One area of interest for me is collecting and researching old postcards. A fancy word for such is ‘ephemera’. I’m not as interested in the photos on front as I am the messages on back. Reading what people had to say one-hundred-years ago can be delightfully entertaining plus highly educational.
Recently I came across an unusual postcard. It’s made of wood and paper. This is the first of its kind I’ve owned. A penny stamp is still attached. The postmark reads October 1907.
The picture on front features a comical looking fellow. He’s an older gentleman sporting a straw hat, goatee, and purse. The card reads: JUST ARRIVED IN ______. The purchaser of this card had to fill in the blank. In this case it reads “ELGIN”.
My newly acquired 4 inch x 6 inch postcard was mailed to Miss Myrtle Holverson – Cedar Vale, Kansas. Something written upside down, underneath ‘Miss Myrtle’ immediately caught my eye. It appeared as if the sender was trying to disguise their message. Four lightly-penned words read, “Many here have heard.”
Wanting to know what they heard had my head spinning. The possibilities were endless. I decided to do some serious sleuthing.
Elgin is or was a city in Kansas. The place is now considered a ghost town. Cedar Vale is only 22-miles northwest of Elgin. Why would someone mail a postcard such a short distance? My first thought being it had to be Myrtle Holverson’s suitor, or as they’re now called, boyfriend.
I equated this to my sending letters across town to my girlfriend before we married. It seems the purchaser of this specially designed card was doing the same. He was letting his sweetheart know he was thinking of her.
I had no problem finding Miss Myrtle ‘Mary’ Holverson. She was born in Cedar Vale, Kansas on May 26, 1887. Her parents were Ole and Frances Holverson. Myrtle had 2 brothers; Herman and Frank. Herman was tragically killed at an early age in a farming accident.
Myrtle Holverson married Orval Younkman on December 31, 1907. This was 2-months after the postmark date. The sender of the card had to be Orval Younkman. His subtle upside-down-message most likely referenced their soon to be wedding.
Orval and Myrtle lived on Oakwood Farm near Cedar Vale until their deaths. Both are buried in the Blackwell Cemetery in Blackwell, Oklahoma. The couple had 2 children; Dolores and Bernadine.
I researched several lines of Holverson and Younkman kin. A good many remained in the Sunflower State. I was hoping to find a descendant of Orval or Myrtle to pass this card on to. For this to have survived one-hundred and seventeen years tells me the previous owners truly cherished it. How the memento came to be on eBay is a sad mystery. Family heirlooms aren’t meant for such.
Without going into excruciating detail I was able to connect all the genealogical dots. I’m fairly positive I’ve found the gg-niece of Myrtle. This special card will be sent to her from my home in Arizona. Hopefully it’ll be placed once again in a special drawer or box. A most unique artifact of Holverson family history will hopefully be around for years to come!
- Update:I was successful in returning this family heirloom to the proper Holverson survivors. They were ecstatic to receive it in the mail. A local Kansas newspaper ran a featured story on it.