Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Fotos (December 19, 2014) -- A Little Detective Work On A Brother's Postcard To His Sister

Post Card showing the Carpenter family homestead at 551 High Street, Cumberland, Rhode Island (circa 1910)

Correspondence side of the Post Card

The home shown on the Post Card above is the Carpenter homestead at 551 High Street in Cumberland, Rhode Island. It depicts the home as it probably appeared in the decade from about 1900-1910 (for reasons explained below).

The Carpenter home was actually the homestead of the Miller/Millard family for several generations before Ruth Ann Miller married Samuel Carpenter in 1852. Sam and Ruth had three children: Samuel Eber Carpenter (1853 - 1929); Abby Laura Carpenter (1859 - 1929); and Nancy Bishop Carpenter (1864 - 1928).  Ruth Ann [Miller] Carpenter died in 1893 and Samuel died in 1904. The Carpenter/Miller home eventually passed to Sam and Ruth's son, Samuel Eber Carpenter.

Abby Laura Carpenter married John Harris Angell on December 30, 1884 and her sister Nancy later went to live with Abby and John Angell after their brother Samuel married Sarah Etta Freeman in June 1887.  The four generations of a Carpenter family homestead at 551 High Street ended when Samuel and Sarah's son Everett inherited the home in 1945 and Everett's three children grew to adulthood in the home.  The home and its surrounding property were sold by Everett's widow (my maternal grandmother, Ruth Eaton [Cooke] Carpenter) in 1962 or 1963. The property is now the site of a fire station and little league baseball field.

The Post Card is written by Samuel Eber Carpenter (my great grandfather) to Abby, the older of his two sisters, who he addresses as "Mrs. John H. Angell."  The Pawtucket cancellation stamp is not fully legible, but it does clearly indicate the Post Card was mailed from Pawtucket on
"Aug 11  4-30 P." The year is not at all clear, but some research makes it almost certain that the year is 1910. The rationale is as follows . . . 

The "19" in the date stamp is fairly clear, and so is the "0" as the fourth digit of the year.  It is the all- but-missing third digit that is the mystery -- until one notices the green, One Cent stamp depicting Benjamin Franklin in profile! A quick Google search reveals that this particular stamp was issued from 1908 - 1912 (see, The small scrap of the third digit of the year that is visible, is clearly a vertical piece at the top right of the digit space and does not appear to be part of a curved section such as would appear in say a "2" or "3"-- and the angle of this little vertical scrap matches the angle of what is clearly the "1" in the first digit of the year!  Only one year in the time period when the ONE CENT Ben Franklin stamp was issued ends in a zero -- 1910.  While it is possible someone might still have and use such stamps over an extended period of time after they were no longer issued, the scrap of the third digit in the year makes it extremely unlikely the year of the communication was 1920. And by 1930 -- the next year ending in a zero -- Abby, Mrs. John H. Angell, and Samuel himself, were both deceased and therefore brother Sam could not be writing a Post Card to sister Abby.

A transcription of Sam's correspondence with his sister Abby is as follows and indicates that Sam is wishing his sister were able to come home for a visit and stay a while. She and her husband were living in Ashton, Rhode Island, which was only about 3.5 to 4 miles away!

                                             I am spending
                                       my vacation here.
                                             The sun sets are
                                       beautiful and the 
                                       mornings are delightful.
                                             I wish you could
                                       come and stay a while.

                                                     Your affect. Bro.


As reader Michael Stephens so correctly pointed out in his comment to the original post here, the Ben Franklin ONE CENT stamp was only produced between 1908 and 1912.  The Ben Franklin stamp in other denominations was produced until as late as January 1919. This means that the original statement in the post, "A quick Google search reveals that this particular stamp was issued from 1908 - 1922," was inaccurate and the analysis flowing from that inaccuracy was flawed; both have now been corrected. While the analysis has been updated from the original, the end result is that Michael's kind correction leads even more strongly to the same conclusion -- my great grandfather sent the Post Card to his sister Abby in August 1910. Thank you Michael!  
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Scan of the original Post Card in the collection of the author.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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1 comment:

  1. The one cent Franklin was, in fact, current from 1908 to 1912 when it was replaced with a very similar stamp depicting George Washington.