If it’s the first Wednesday of the month, it must be postcard week!

Here’s a nice view of “The Mountains from Clarksburg.” It might even be an accurate view, unlike the images shown on many of the “Greetings From [Your Town Here]” cards, since you’d think a generic card would try harder to show some of the promised mountains. (Nothing against our lovely Blue Ridge!) Though Clarksburg has recently been developed, there are still views like this to be had in the area.

The card is postmarked Burdette, Md, 1912. Burdette was a small community near Boyds and Clarksburg, with a post office, school, and hotel. Addressed to Miss Rose Dawson, Rockville, Mont Co, Md., the message reads:

Hello Rose, Guess you miss Miss Hepburn lots don’t you? Really I don’t miss her half so much as I do the girls, especially “tu.” Ray W.

Rose Kiger Dawson (1896-1979) grew up in South Dakota, and moved back to her father’s home, Rockville, in 1911. (Her arrival dress has been featured here before.) She attended Rockville High School, a.k.a. Montgomery County H.S.; today it is Richard Montgomery H.S.

The first yearbook or annual published by the school came out in 1927; for earlier years, we have to rely on other sources for tidbits about school life. Though the postmark is too blurry to get the exact date, this card has a “school’s out for summer” vibe to it; in fact the message reads, to me, a lot like the kind of thing you write in your friend’s yearbook, hoping to keep yourself in their mind for the few months before school starts again.

“Miss Hepburn” was Alice E. Hepburn, one of the teachers at Rockville High School in the 1910s and early 1920s. I haven’t found too much about her, though she appears in faculty lists, annual reports, and the occasional “Society” article, and in the 1920 census can be found boarding with another teacher in Rockville. One presumes that she taught French, unless Ray W. was being particularly coy. Depending on how you read the message, either Miss Hepburn and Rose had a nice teacher-student bond . . . or they really didn’t.

Above: Members of the Rockville High School faculty, circa 1914.  Though not all of the people have been identified, Miss Hepburn is in the back row at the far right.

As for Ray W., for now he is lost to history, though one assumes he lived in Montgomery County. Perhaps he and his family spent the summer at the High View House Hotel in Burdette?

[edited: to remove mistaken reference to a train station]


We have a lot of postcards in our collections.  Those that features local scenes are accessible in our research library, as part of our photograph resources.  I love postcards, and while I appreciate the photos on the front, it’s the messages on the back that are the best part: little snippets of life; some clear, some cryptic, almost always entertaining.  (And yes,  I will be one of the people enjoying archived Twitter accounts at the Library of Congress in 50 years.)

Here’s a great card. First, the more obviously ‘useful’ aspect:  This photographic card shows High View House Hotel, Burdette, Md.  Montgomery County was home to many summer resorts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, enticing D.C. residents out of the sultry city and into the fresh air of the countryside; many of these hotels were down-county, but the Metropolitan Line railroad meant that up-county communities could get in on the game as well.  In 1887, Somerset T. Williams built a 22 room hotel in Burdette, outside Boyds (a stop on the Line).  He named it High View thanks to its, well, high view over Ten Mile Creek.  It was also known as the Burdette Hotel.  (The building is still standing, I believe; it is a private residence.)  This photo shows a small crowd of people (and possibly one or more dogs) sitting on the porch; doesn’t it look nice and shady?  I’d stay there.

Now for the fun part.  The card is addressed to Miss Wottie King, Germantown, and postmarked Boyds, September 9, 1909.  The message reads: “Dear Wottie – come down with Norman when he brings my skirt, for I want to see you.  Mabel.”

Fantastic!  Who are Mabel and Wottie?  Is Mabel staying at the hotel, or does she live near it?  Did she meet Wottie at the hotel, or do they know each other some other way? Who is Norman, and why does he have Mabel’s skirt?  We may never know (at least not about the skirt), but it’s fun to try and find out.  I get a teenager vibe from this, perhaps wrongly.  I’ve started poking around the census looking for Wottie and Mabel, with no definitive results as yet though I may have found a pair of 14 year olds who fit the bill.  Anyone have an idea what name “Wottie” might be short for?

This long-handled waffle iron was used at Friends Advice, a house in Boyds. The three-foot handles mean it was used over a hearth, not on a stove – think of toasting marshmallows over a campfire, only instead you’re baking waffles in your fireplace. Until waffle technology was improved in the 1860s by the invention of the stove top waffle iron, this was the way to go. Some antique waffle irons were designed in elaborate patterns; this one makes a pretty basic waffle (see photo below), though probably none the less tasty for its plainness. (Mmmmmm, waffles.) The iron (which is in fact made of iron, by the way) is marked Goddard, Balto., indicating it was made at a foundry or ironmonger in Baltimore.

The donor, Mrs. Ruth Davis Wilcox, told us that the iron belonged to Drucilla Simmons Dade Davis, daughter of Col. Robert Townshend Dade (1786-1873). Col. Dade’s father, the Reverend Townshend Dade, purchased a tract called “Friends Advice” outside the town of Boyds around 1770. The house now known as Friends Advice (the Colonel’s daughter Mary married William Wall, and they called the home Walldene) was enlarged and added to over the years, and it stayed in the family for over 200 years.

The photo above (which came out a little small this week – click on it to see a larger version) probably says as much about the Historical Society as it does about waffle technology.  (“Waffle technology” is the phrase of the day – please use it in conversation!)  Dr. Adams’ giant yellow number is visible on the side; the paper string tag on the handle has an up-to-date version of the object number, plus the storage location; and the wire loop near the top is a remnant (a difficult-to-remove-without-giant-wire-cutters remnant) of an old exhibit we put on in the 1960s. Don’t Try This At Home: in this case I doubt much damage was done, but I don’t recommend you hang up your artifacts and heirlooms with metal wire.

For more information on Friends Advice and the people who lived there, visit the Maryland Historical Trust’s page about the home. More about the community of Boyds can be found on the Boyds Historical Society’s website.

A plain waffle is better than none at all.