Thursday, on Shades Of The Departed, will be dedicated to many things,
and nothing in particular.
From a simple postcard so much is found. This is another find from the antique stores of Montana. So what is the connection to this postcard and the old photographs of Shades, you ask? Read on and all will be revealed.
I had stopped at a small antique store in Missoula to look for old photographs when our California Daughter found hundreds of postcards written to the same person. She brought this one to me and I was completely taken with it and the entire collection. How could any family have let these treasures get away? I couldn't buy them all, but I did buy the best.
The postcard is addressed to Miss Grace Mathewson, Anaconda, Montana, United States of America.
The card reads:
Sept. 12, 1906
I have been sick for two days. We are anchored now in the Straits. It is very dark and stormy out. The chairs are tied to the deck to keep them from being blown overboard. We will reach Punta Arenas tomorrow.
Along the side it reads:
This is our ship. Its first trip to coast.
A close examination of the card indicates the name of the ship was the Orita of the Pacific Line - Liverpool to South America.
The Orita was built by Harland and Wolff, Belfast for the Pacific Steam Navigation Company in 1903. A 9,266 gross ton ship, length 485.4ft x beam 58ft, one funnel, two masts, twin screw she had a speed of 14 knots.
There were accommodations for 169-1st, 111-2nd and 528-3rd class passengers and she carried 172 crew. When the Orita was launched on 15th November 1902, she was the largest vessel on the Liverpool - West Coast of South America route.
Her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Valparaiso started on 8 April 1903. Her final sailing via Montevideo was on 22 September 1927; she was then laid up in the UK until 1931 when she was scrapped at Morecambe.
When Donald indicated in the margin of the postcard “Its first trip to coast;” he clearly meant the picture was of the Orinta’s first trip to the coast, not his voyage, as his voyage is in 1906.
In 1904, the South Atlantic route was Liverpool, La Pallice (La Rochelle), Corunna, Vigo, Lisbon, Recife, Salvador, Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Port Stanley (Falklands), Punta Arenas, Coronel, Talcahuano and Valparaiso.
Where Donald has written they are anchored in the Straits, he is referring to the Strait of Magellan. His next stop was Chile's Punta Arenas which is located on the Strait of Magellan and was one of the most important supply stops for mariners of the day, until the Panama Canal opened for business in 1914.
Gracie is not quite eleven at the time this postcard was sent by Donald Vigero, having been born on 5 December 1895 in Pueblo, Colorado. She is living at 422 Hickory St., Anaconda, Montana with her parents Edward Payson Mathewson and Alice (Barry) Mathewson.
Grace is surrounded by her siblings, Mary her elder sister, her younger sisters Gertrude and Mary, and in 1908 the family adds a little brother, Edward.
Grace not only liked to collect postcards, but she also became accustomed to traveling herself. In August of 1909, when Grace is thirteen she receives another postcard from Don while at the Arlington Hotel In Santa Barbara, California. The Arlington catered to the rich and famous of its time.
Many of the postcards sent to Grace after August 1909 ask about “the fire.” August 15, 1909, while Grace was a guest, the Arlington Hotel burned to the ground in a fast moving fire killing several of the guests. One card postmarked four days after the fire writes how glad the sender was that Grace escaped. We can only imagine what a traumatic experience this must have been for her.
Grace married Norman Church Streit (pronounced like fight) on 5 December 1917. They settled in Missoula with her father-in-law Lewis Streit while Norman sold farm equipment. Grace and Norman had three children Norman, Jr., Barbara and David. Young Norman was born in New York City 9 February 1919 while Grace was visiting her parents.
Norman started his own insurance business and Norman, Jr. came to work for him after graduating from the University of Montana in 1941. In 1942, Norman, Jr. entered military service. He was a lieutenant with the 87th Mountain Infantry Division and first saw action against the Japanese in Kiska Island in the Aleutian Campaign. He was then sent to the European Theater as part of the 36th Infantry, 3rd Armored Division. His unit took part in the June 6, 1944 D Day invasion at Normandy, France. Lt. Streit was killed in action in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge on Christmas Day, 1944. He is interred at the Henri-Chappelle U.S. Military Cemetery, Belgium. I could find no records to indicate that Grace and Norman were ever able to visit their son’s grave.
Norman died in Missoula in December of 1959, Grace died thirty-four years later in Missoula, 27 September 1993, three years short of 100.
Edward Payson Mathewson and Grace’s mother Alice, are not diplomats. E.P., as he is called, is the superintendent of the Washoe Smelter of The Anaconda Copper Mining Company in Anaconda, a position that provided a very comfortable income for his family of seven plus their two Irish maids Bessie and Nora.
Born in Canada in 1864, Edward worked as a mining engineer in Colorado, Montana, Mexico, Canada, China and Chile. In 1926 he became a professor at the University of Arizona where he organized a new course in mine administration. E.P. was the President of the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. It was said that E.P. was Mr. Mining and Mr. Anaconda.
E.P. lectured, wrote books and articles and owned a mining consulting firm in New York. He worked with and for Herbert Hoover and showed President Taft around Anaconda when he visited.
The family often accompanied E.P. on his travels. Grace had led a very privileged life.
E.P. Mathewson was a pioneer photographer in Bolivia in 1901. Thirty-one ten-by-eight inch toned bromide prints from Bolivia, dated January 1901, are part of the Benjamin Stone Collection at the Birmingham Central Library in Birmingham, England. They are attributed to E.P. Mathewson of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company.
The prints were obtained by Sir Benjamin Stone (1838-1914), a member of Parliament, world traveler, and photographer, in the early 1900s. Most of the views are of the mining camps at Huanchaca and Pulacayo (including women sorting ore, an amalgamation retort, plazas, llama herds, markets, street scenes, and policemen). A few are of streets and plazas in La Paz and Oruro.
Note: I am continually amazed at the wealth of information found on the internet. I could have written a book on the information I found on E.P., Alice, Grace and her siblings.
To be added.