Postcard Story: A Happy Easter

A Happy Easter

A Happy Easter
Postcard circa 1904

My criteria for purchasing old postcards could be described loosely as follows. They should picture an interesting place or location. They should be personalized, that is, they should have a message written on them – hopefully to a person that can be further researched using and other genealogy resources. Even better if that person has an interesting history to tell. Finally, a stamp and/or postal cancellation that can date the postcard is much desired.

This postcard did not catch my attention at first because of the rather blasé image on the front. Like so many other greeting cards in the pile I almost passed it over. Fortunately I make a habit of going through piles twice, once for looking at the front artwork and another time through looking only at the writing on the back. This one caught my attention because of the short, humorous message and also the strange cancellation.

A Happy Easter (reverse)

A Happy Easter (postcard reverse)

The message reads: Happy Easter. Are you sick yet.
We know immediately what it refers to even some 113 years later.

It was sent by Mabel W. to Mr. Truman Royer, both of Rural Route No. 2, Lanark, Illinois. It was sent and delivered on 10 April, 1904. We know it was sent the same day it was delivered because of how the postcard was cancelled. “RFD Cancels” were hand-canceled mail done by the delivery person on rural routes when picking up mail from one postal customer and delivering it to another on the same route. A purple-colored indelible pencil was used by writing the date and often the initials of the deliverer across the stamp. I had never seen this before so it caught my eye.

Mabel W. turns out to be Mabel Whitmer (b. 7 March 1894), a 10 year old girl a few parcels down from 16 year old Truman Harry Royer (b. 5 July 1887, d. January 1963) in the small farming town of Lanark.

Truman would go on to remain a lifelong resident of the town. Mabel Whitmer married Mike Kottow in Cook County, Illinois in 1916 at age 20 and nothing is known about either her or Mike after that point.


Amateur photographer, cyclist, and beer brewer in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.

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