Here’s a sampling of the Valentine’s Day cards sent to young Billy Hazard of Garrett Park, between 1914 and 1917 (Billy was born in August, 1913).  Thanks to his mother Maude Wagstaff Hazard, who saved all of her son’s correspondence, we have a variety of cards styles, including…

valentine billy 1 coverA cut-out card, unsigned and undated, addressed in pencil to “Billy.”  The verse inside reads, “Dearest Valentine, this token / Only shows my love in part. / Did I dare think you’d accept it, / I would send to you my heart.”

***

valentine billy 1916 frontA postcard, addressed to Master Billy Hazard, Garrett Park, Md., signed only “B.B.,” and postmarked February 14, 1916.  The verse on the front reads, “If I’m your Valentine, would you say to me, ‘Good morning Glory’?” (Hmmmm.)  There’s no additional message from the sender.

***

valentine billy 2A tiny (2.75″ wide) handmade valentine: pencil and blue crayon on a cut-out, folded-over heart.  The front says “TO MY VALENTINE,” the inside “TO MY LOVE.”  On the back, in the same handwriting, is “Billy.”  A few other cards in the collection are from young Billy’s neighborhood friends; this is probably another one.

***

valentine billy 1914 frontAnd finally, another postcard that may or may not have been intended by the publisher as a valentine proper – though there are tiny hearts between the birds and the landscape – but which, according to the pencil note on the back, was given to Billy on February 14, 1914, “From James.”  I thought I’d end with this one, since it will be 100 years old on Friday.  Let this charming variety inspire you as you prepare for your own 2014 Valentine’s Day!

Billy’s 1913-1917 valentines (including several more not shown here) donated by the Barth family.

For many people, the first day of a new year is a time for resolutions and fresh starts.  January first has been an official U.S. holiday since 1870, when it was included in a list of holidays for federal workers in the District of Columbia.  But not everyone has the day off, of course, and New Year’s Day celebrations – if any – can be muted, quiet, and personal, whether you’re recovering from a midnight party, enjoying time off with family or friends, getting started on those resolutions, or simply taking care of business as usual.  Interested in some New Year’s activities of Montgomery County’s past? Of course you are!  Let’s take a look.  (Note: spelling and punctuation are all as written by the original authors.)

***

January 1, 1891
I have often wanted to keep a diary and as Mother has not written in hers for so long she has given it to me to begin in.
Was at Dr. Brookes, Rainy, so we staid in the house and played Tiddledy Winks.

Carrie Miller Farquhar (1842-1904) of Norbeck kept a diary or journal for much of her life, but rather sporadically.  She took a break between October 22, 1890 and January 7, 1891, and one of her young daughters seized the opportunity (with permission, apparently) to make a start on a diary of her own to start the new year.

***

Carrie’s husband Roger Brooke Farquhar, Sr. (1837-1929) likewise kept a faithful record of his daily work.  He was a farmer, and most of his new year’s entries are little different from any other day; for example, here are the first three entries in the first journal volume, begun on January 1st, 1856 (click photo to enlarge; transcription below):
Farquhar 1-1-1856
January 1856
1st  Took Jinny to shop and she kicked so that they could not shoe her. Mended the dam &c.
2nd Went to Lea’s mill with buckwheat shod colt at Perry’s, hauled wood in the evening. very sleety.
3rd  Shelled corn for cow feed, and took to mill.

In 1861, Roger indulged in a bit of timely festivity, noting on January 1st:

Set up last night at Brooke Grove, saw the old year out for the first time I remember, took Mother to Brooke Grove in the sleigh.  Bill cutting wood     had a political meeting at Rockville.

***

A new year can be a time for reflection on the year that’s concluded, as well as for looking ahead.  Okay, that’s a little trite, but it’s important to remember that it was as true for our predecessors as it is for us today.  As 1924 turned to 1925, recently widowed Henrietta Clagett (1848-1925) of Potomac noted sorrowfully in her diary,

Dec 31st, 1924.  Last day of old year which brought so much sorrow and loss of loved ones &c.  . . .
January 1st 1925.  New Years day dark and dreary snow on the ground from last night’s fall.  Looks like we would have more.

***

The Stang family of Clopper were devout Catholics, who attended nearby St. Rose of Lima Church.  On January 1st, 1912, 18 year old Marie Stang (1894-1970) wrote in her diary,
Stang 1-1-1912
We stayed up until 12:00 to see the old year out and new year in.  We had two masses – 9:00 and 10:00.  Papa went to Holy Communion and so did I.  Mamma & I went to Gaithersburg to get Bess shod, came home and played cards, Papa & I beat Miss Mary and Mamma.

***

Davey 1929In 1929, 23 year old W. Cecil Davey was living at home with his parents in Takoma Park, and working with his father in the plastering business.  New Year’s Day was a chance to relax.  In his red-covered “National Diary” for 1929, he noted on January 1st:

The New Year has come in decidedly damp.  It rained all day but was not cold.  fooled around the house all morning doing nothing in particular. Cleared up my room & books some so that it looks a bit tidier. Some time after dinner I went over to Dodge’s and helped Harry on his railway for a while. Stopped there playing with him & Doris till about six.  After tea Doris & Fred came over & we played cards for a while.  I took some photos of Doris over to Mrs. Johnston & she liked them.  Donald came in about 8 o’clock & we played cards with Frank & Dad till past ten.

(In the 1930 census, the Dodge family – including ten year old Harry, Jr. – are the Daveys’ next-door neighbors on Maple Avenue.  1950s records indicate that W. Cecil Davey was a professional photographer in Silver Spring; perhaps Doris’s photos were some early efforts.)

***

From 1801 through 1932, there was a public reception held at the White House every New Year’s Day.  In 1892, Roger Brooke Farquhar attended with his daughter Anna and friend Katherine Hall; but, as noted in both Roger’s and wife Carrie’s diaries, it was not everything they’d expected (and, yes, Roger still included some of the day’s farm work):

Carrie:
Roger, Anna & Katherine Hall went to Wash. to Presidents Reception – had not a very successful day.

Roger:
Anna, Catherine Hall & I went to town to see the Presidents reception, shook hands with Mr. Harrison but were disappointed at not seeing foreign ministers
Carrie came home
The men plowing & spreading manure

***

And one last entry!  Thirteen year old Catherine Dawson (1910-1974) of Rockville spent January 1st, 1924 visiting family, doing homework and chores, and generally having a nice day.  She ends with a cheerfully misspelled good wish for the coming year – a wish that your blogger also extends to you, dear readers!

Tuesday Jan 1
Had breakfast at Willard with Uncle Wade. There were great times last night. . . . Cleaned up a while & then wrote my synopsis of “David Copperfield.” Fooled around until dinner time. Virginia was here for dinner. Afterwards we read, talked & played with the boys. She left & I read until supper. Had a light supper. Read & fooled around all evening & then went to bed. Hears hopes for a Happy New Year for all my family & friends.

***

Farquhar family diaries donated to MCHS by Roger Brooke Farquhar, Jr.; Marie Stang’s diaries donated by Marie Stang; W. Cecil Davey’s diaries donated anonymously; Henrietta Clagett’s diary donated by Molly T. Keith; copy of Catherine Dawson Hill’s diary provided by Beth Dawson Rodgers.

Here’s more on the diaries, and lives, of Marie Stang and Mrs. Clagett, as well as some notes from the diaries of Carrie Miller Farquhar and Catherine Dawson.

Our Library collection includes photographs of the various efforts of the Montgomery County Community Chest and Council.  “Community Chest” was a name adopted by civic-minded charitable organizations around the country in the early-mid 20th century (many of which were eventually combined under the United Way umbrella); our county’s group was founded in 1943.  Agencies such as local Scout and youth groups, the Public Health Lay Council, and the county Social Service League (founded in 1908, later renamed Family Services Agency) joined the Community Chest and helped organize, fund and run programs like the Christmas Bureau, which provided food, clothing and gifts for families in need.  Here’s a photo of a Toys for Tots delivery to the Volunteer Christmas Bureau Store, circa 1950:

051060G

Toys for Tots was started in 1947, and adopted as an official program of the US Marine Corps Reserve in 1948. This photo from our collections is accompanied by an undated press release, identifying Technical Sergeant Robert E. McPhee “shoulder[ing] one of the cartons of 300 toys delivered this week” to the county Christmas Bureau, along with volunteer clerks Mrs. Sol Goldman, Mrs. Charles Gordon, and Mrs. Seymour Leopold.

In the late 1950s, the Community Chest and Council joined the newly formed Montgomery Health and Welfare Council, “a regional unit of the Health and Welfare Council of the National Capital Area” (according to their 1959 annual report).  The Christmas Bureau was still an important part of the organization’s work, with 391 county families receiving gifts from the Bureau in 1959.  I’ve not figured out where the storefront in the photo above was located, but by the late 1950s the Christmas Bureau store was held at the Montgomery County fairgrounds in Gaithersburg.  Here’s a photo of two Silver Spring Rotarians preparing a delivery of what looks like ham (?) to the Christmas Bureau store, as helpfully noted by the sign propped next to the loaded station wagon: “We are on our way with Christmas Gifts to the Christmas Store located at Gaithersburg Fair Grounds, Sponsored by the Montgomery County Christmas Bureau.”

051060V

Our collection also includes a few photos of “Santa’s Hideaway,” a temporary mini-store set up in Silver Spring, probably to let children choose their gifts from amongst donated toys and games.  Though the Hideaway has so far proven rather elusive, research-wise, the photos themselves tell us that it was funded in part by Red Feather campaign donations (the Red Feather was a symbol used by the United Givers Fund, later part of the United Way), and supported over several years by local radio station WGAY.  The two images below, from different years, show first a ceremonial ribbon-cutting, attended by various officials (including Howard Bain, president of the county United Givers Fund in 1955); and second a group of children, each holding a different toy – though it’s not clear whether they’ve just received them as presents, or they’re preparing to donate them – being interviewed by a very serious-looking WGAY reporter.

051060L(Howard Bain, president of the county United Givers Fund in 1955, is second from right; an Ellsworth Drive (Silver Spring) street sign is on the telephone pole.  In addition to the large “WGAY – dial 1050 – The Suburban Maryland Station” banner, a smaller sign advertises radio broadcasts held from the Hideaway: “North Pole Calling” by Chuck Dulane, and “Melody Circus” by Val Thomas.  If you’d care to while away some time with memories and photos of WGAY, here’s a fun website for you.)

051060J(Notice the Red Feather / Community Chest sign, as well as another WGAY sign, and what might be an ad for the Maryland News paper.)

Do you recognize any of the people or locations in the photos posted here?  Do you remember the Montgomery County Christmas Bureau or Santa’s Hideaway campaigns? Let us know!  A little extra knowledge would be a great holiday-of-your-choice gift to myself and our Librarians.  And here’s a gift for those of you who live (or have lived) in the county, and who enjoy surveys: A survey!  We’re planning an exhibit on Montgomery County’s long tradition of civic activism, including but not limited to activities like the ones featured in today’s post.  This survey, put together for us by a graduate student at the University of Maryland History and Library Science program, will help us gather stories and artifacts for the exhibit.

Photos donated to the MCHS Library by the Health and Welfare Council.

 

 

No turkeys this year – instead, here’s a photo for your Thanksgiving enjoyment.

086dawson007
This circa 1910 image is mounted on a card, and has a long message on the back in ink:
“This was taken Thanksgiving afternoon, After the foot ball game.  Just use this [the next two lines have been scratched out with a stylus].  No. 1.  Harrison Englang [sic].  No. 2. Sir. Thomas Dawson.  No. 3. Duke of South Dakota.  Yours Truly, L.A. Dawson.  This is entitled The Bon Ton Socials of Rockville.”

Bon Ton Socials front and back
This is a pretty fantastic photo, all around.  1) The gentlemen are conveniently sporting a variety of hat and collar styles, making it a nice comparative sample for today’s researchers (a.k.a., me).  2) They gave themselves a funny, if perhaps highly temporary, group name.  3) Dawson spelled his friend’s name wrong – on purpose? – and then someone vehemently erased part of the message – why?  And, 4) It’s Thanksgiving, around 100 years ago . . . and there is football involved.

The pictured gentlemen are Harrison England (1891-1973), Thomas Dawson, Jr. (1892-1944), both of Rockville . . . and here’s where my planned Thanksgiving/Native American Heritage Month post went awry yesterday.  I’d thought that perhaps No. 3 was Bill Ross (1903-?), an Oglala Lakota who came to Rockville in the late 1910s to stay with the family of Hal and Fannie Dawson, and whose story I promised you back in Feburary.  The Dawsons and their children lived for many years on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota; they moved to Hal’s family farm, Rocky Glen, in 1911. Hal and Fannie welcomed Bill “Chief” Ross into their family for a time, and indeed he appears in the 1920 Rockville census as the Dawsons’ “adopted son.”

However, closer examination of the photo makes me think that the third gentleman here is Lawrence A. Dawson (1893-1953), author of the message on the reverse, and oldest son of Hal and Fannie.  I had initially ruled him out because the photo was donated by Lawrence’s daughter, Mary Dawson Gray, but perhaps she took it for granted that we knew “No. 3″ was her dad, without writing it down.  The relative ages of the three young men, the style of their clothing, and comparison with photos of a thirty year old Lawrence and ten year old Bill all point to the “Duke of South Dakota” being Lawrence himself, who came to Rockville* several years before the rest of his immediate family – putting this photo around 1910-12.

Thanksgiving and football have a long-entwined history – there are records of college games held on the holiday as early as the 1870s, and in the DC area Georgetown University’s Thanksgiving Day games were highlights of the season by the late 19th century.  And since I can’t resist a good turkey postcard, here’s a circa 1900 example showing a turkey playing football.

1908 football gameI wasn’t able to find anything about Rockville Thanksgiving Day football games in particular, but our library does include evidence of a possible precedent: The Midget, a one-sheet newspaper published by Rockville youths, reported on November 12, 1908 that “the ‘Uptowns’ and ‘Downtowns’ had a foot-ball game at the Fair Grounds last Saturday.”  (Click the image at left to see the full line-up.) The Downtowns won, 17 to 5, “although the Uptowns had more weight and what was more they had the time-keeper as coach.”   (Alas, our collection of Midgets – and possibly its print-run altogether – is sporadic; no record of a Thanksgiving game has been found in this source.) If any Rockville historians or residents have info, pictures, or records to share, please do!

* Lawrence came east in order to attend school; he stayed with relatives, including his aunt and uncle at our own Beall-Dawson House, where he can be found in the 1910 census.  And don’t worry, I’ll get to Bill Ross’s full story one of these days.

During the 1900s-10s heyday of the postcard, any holiday was a great  excuse for sending friends and family a quick greeting. I suspect the penny postage was cheaper than a phone call (if telephone service was even available to you). Our collection features cards for all kinds of holidays, large and small, but I think my favorite are the Thanksgiving cards. Why? Turkeys! Almost every Thanksgiving Greeting (in our collections, anyway) features at least one turkey; sometimes they makes sense, sometimes they don’t. We have happy turkeys:

less happy turkeys:

sparkly turkeys:

patriotic turkeys:

turkeys getting their own dinner (some, like these here, are wise to the situation – click to enlarge and read the verse):

turkeys dancing with Spanish maidens:

even – the best card ever? – turkeys driving a car.

There isn’t really a deeper point to today’s post, other than showing off all these fabulous turkeys. (Though for the specific-history-minded among you, a list of each card’s provenance is included below.) I did a spot of research on the history of the Thanksgiving turkey tradition and found some information to share, including this article from the Smithsonian. But really, I just wanted to post the turkeys driving a car.

Happy turkey: Postmarked 1911; sent to Raleigh Chinn, Brookeville. Donated by Jane C. Sween.
Deceased turkey: Postmarked 1909; sent to Mrs. Lynch, Washington, DC. Donated by Joyce Candland.
Sparkly turkeys (featuring copious amounts of silver glitter, though it’s hard to tell from this scan): No postmark; addressed to Mrs. Lynch, Washington, DC. Donated by Joyce Candland.
Patriotic turkey: Postmarked 1910; sent to Mr. McRory, Illinois. Donated by Joyce Candland.
Dubious turkeys: No postmark; addressed to Miss Marian Howard, Brookeville.  Donated by Jane C. Sween.  (Here’s the verse: “You feed me well but I can tell that you’re no friend of mine / Because, my dear, I greatly fear, it’s near Thanksgiving time.”)
Dancing turkey: Postmarked 1909; sent to Master Thomas M. Anderson, Rockville.  Donated by the Anderson family.
Turkeys out for a drive: Postmarked 1908; sent to Mr. Raleigh Chinn, Brookeville.  Donated by Jane C. Sween.

During the postcard’s heyday, 1900s-1910s, an astonishing variety of holiday cards was published and sent. Where we would send greeting cards (or an email) today, friends and family in the 1910s sent a postcard. And not just for Christmas, Valentine’s Day or birthdays; there were cards for Thanksgiving, New Year’s, St. Patrick’s Day, Independence Day, Easter, and even Groundhog Day.

Holiday postcards are not always quite as interesting – in terms of random snippets of history – as more everyday greetings are, because the message is often restricted to something like “thinking of you this holiday season.”  (Although there is entertainment value in those greetings of the past; when’s the last time someone sent you their “Hearty best wishes,” or hopes for “A Joyous Eastertide”?)

Some of the Easter cards in our collection are fairly standard, containing, along with the holiday greetings, complaints about not getting a real letter (or apologies for not sending one); updates on the sender’s family; best wishes for the recipient’s health and happiness. A few were sent to young children, and include cute messages about the Easter Bunny and/or egg hunts. The card below, sent to Billy Hazard of Garrett Park in 1916, assures the almost-three year old that “the bunny will be real good to you.” The Easter bunny tradition is an old one, and it’s fun to see the evidence of that from nearly 100 years ago.

Yesterday, my coworkers Jennie and Taylor had a lucky find at a local antique store: an Easter postcard with a particularly fabulous message. In 1908, an unidentified J.E. of Richmond Va. sent this card to her friend Miss Bertie Higgins of Rockville, with the message,

“Hello, Bert, how are you? I suppose you will come out in a ‘six footer’ Sunday. Mine is a Merry Widow but not six feet from brim to brim, because, you see it would be all hat and no girl. Happy Easter to you all.”

It’s a joke about their Easter “bonnets” (in this case, giant wide-brimmed hats)! How great is that? We’re finishing up a “Year of the Hat” exhibit series, you see, and the recurring popularity of wide-brimmed hats has been featured many times. (On this blog, as well – here’s a “Merry Widow” style being sold by Miss Darby of Gaithersburg.) Another example of how satisfying it is to find a primary source, even a minor one, that shows some truth within your research. Now if only it was a photo postcard (however pretty this angel-themed Easter card, below, may be), showing Roberta Higgins (age 21) and her unknown friend, it would be perfect.

Credits: Billy Hazard’s card donated by the Barth family; Bertie Higgins’ card, MCHS purchase.  Other cards: “Easter Greetings,” with rabbits and a giant “river scene”-featuring egg, sent to Mrs. Charles Waters of Germantown in 1910 “with much love from Cousin P.J. Jones,” donated by Charles T. Jacobs.    “A Joyous Eastertide,” ca. 1915, wishing Mr. Raleigh Chinn in Brookeville “a happy Eastertide” from Cousin Rose, donated by Jane Chinn Sween. 

P.S. Happy Passover, too!

Good morning, blog fans!  Happy second day of Hanukkah and Merry four days before Christmas!

These seasonal greetings are brought to you by the Carson Ward General Store in Gaithersburg, 1919.  The remarkably un-festive image above (donated by E. Russell Gloyd) shows, from left to right, Russell Plummer, John Ward, Robert Case, Laura Ward, George W. Darby and Carson Ward in front of the store on Frederick Avenue.  Added to the lower right corner of the postcard is the inscription, “Seasons Greetings, Christmas 1919.”  (In case you weren’t sure which season.)

The building, which is still standing, sits on the east side of Frederick Avenue (Rt 355), just north of the railroad crossing.  It has had a varied history: opened as a dry goods and general store in 1890 by Carson Ward, it also served as the Town Hall, a public library (on the second floor), and the first meeting place of the local lodges of the Knights of Pythias and the Masonic Lodge.  Today it is a mattress store, still recognizable thanks to the distinctively uneven double gable roof.  (Carson Ward himself was important to the city’s history, serving as Mayor from 1904 to 1906, on the town council for several terms, and in the Maryland legislature from 1921 to 1924.)

I was interested to see that the more generic “season’s greetings” was used in 1919 (though whoever designed the postcard did qualify it with “Christmas” immediately following).  There were Jewish merchants in Gaithersburg around this time (sorry, I’m not in my office and I forgot to email myself the notes on those stores) but Mr. Ward may not have been trying to appeal to his neighbors; versions of the phrase appeared on Victorian Christmas cards, and by the 1920s “Season’s Greetings” was commonly used in advertisements.  (Here’s an article on holiday greeting cards.)  Maybe the fact that there’s virtually nothing “seasonal” about the image called for a less specific greeting. It is also one of the reasons I love this picture.  We have a variety of similar images – “Hey, everyone, let’s stand in front of our home/store/place of business and have our picture taken!” – which are great, and the imposed festivity here just makes it all the better.

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