Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Sign Of The Times

A Modern Convenience Appears In A RPPC

Telephone: n. An invention of the devil which abrogates
some of the advantages of making a disagreeable
person keep his distance.

The Devil's Dictionary 1911

Yes, the candlestick telephone was a sign of the times and in this Real Photo Postcard it acts as the photographer's prop. "After the invention of the telephone in 1876, the candlestick (or desk stand) was manufactured from the early 1890's through the 1920's. During this period there were hundreds of independent phone companies and even more unique candlestick phones in production." Now how do I know it's a prop and not the telephone of the young woman pictured? Research, plain old fashioned research.

History of Post Card

This is a Real Photo Postcard (RPPC), as previously discussed in Big Wheels and Sometimes Main Street Is The Whole Town. The way you tell the difference between an RPPC and a printed post card is to look at the card under a magnifying glass. If the photo is printed, you will see that it is made up of a lot of little dots, the same as a photo printed in a newspaper. A Real Photo Postcard is solid, no dots. This post card is solid no dots.

Here is the information contained on the back of this postcard. As this post card is postally used, we have the benefit of a postmark.

Select Image To Enlarge View

July 13




This post card is in very poor condition. The author of this postcard, Ella Rouse, has handwriting that is very difficult to read. The postcard was mailed from Hannibal, Missouri to Columbia, Missouri on July 13, 1911 at 11.30pm. The recipient is Marrial/Marrie Davidson.

The postcard transcription:

from Cousin Ella Rouse
411 Lyon St.
Dear Cousin Marrial/Marrie
When are you coming home
we would like to
see you Marrial/Marrie
Send me Cordelia
Stamps pictures Marrial/Marrie
tryed to get you over
the home.

This sentence is questionable: I read of W. R. Brown Storm. This is my best guess and would appreciate other interpretations.

Name & Address:
Miss Marriel/Marrie Davidson
Columbia, MO.

History of Person:

Ella Rouse is listed in the 1911 Census for Hannibal, Missouri, as the twenty-three year old wife of Joseph Rouse. This is a second marriage for sixty-three year old Joseph; Ella's first. Living in the home with Joseph and Ella is Joseph's seventeen year old daughter Cordelia. This is most probably the Cordelia mentioned in the postcard.

The Polk Directory for 1911-1912 for Hannibal, Missouri, lists Joseph and Ella Rouse as residents. The directory contains the telephone numbers for residents and businesses. There is no telephone number listed for the couple for 1911-12. It is my assertion that the absence of a telephone number in the directory translates to Joseph and Ella not having a telephone. I believe the candlestick telephone shown in Ella's photograph is a studio prop.

The recipient of the postcard is more difficult to determine. From the postcard it appears that Marrial/Marrie Davidson is visiting in Columbia, as Ella asks her cousin when she will be coming home. I have assumed that Ms. Davidson was a resident of Hannibal.

The 1910 censuses shows a Marri/Marre Davidson living in Hannibal in 1900. She is the same age as Ella Rouse. The census was enumerated between 17 and 28 April 1910. There is a Marle Davidson living in her permanent residence at the same time in Columbia, Missouri. There is insufficient information to determine if any of these woman are the recipient of the postcard.

The Prop - The Candlestick Telephone:

On the other side of the state, in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1891, lived the inventor of the automatic telephone exchange and the telephone dial seen on the candlestick phone pictured above. Almon Strowger was an undertaker whose business was losing clients to a competitor. Strowger discovered his competition for undertaking business in town had a wife who was a telephone-operator. When potential customers asked the operator to connect them with Strowger's business she would redirect everyone to her husband's undertaking business. Strowger's complaints to the telephone company went unanswered. It is said he went to his basement and constructed a model of his automatic system from a round collar box and some straight pins. He patented the automatic telephone exchange in 1891.

A Sign Of The Times, from a simple postcard so much information.

Other Postcard Articles:

Big Wheels - President Theodore Roosevelt and Family.

Sometimes Main Street Is The Whole Town - Glendive, Montana

Papa Can You Hear Me - A young girl in Montana looks for her father.

From A Simple Postcard - Grace Mathewson and her collection.



Anonymous. Ella Rouse. Real Photo Postcard. 1911.


1910 U.S. census, Marion County, Missouri, population schedule, Hannibal, p. 75, dwelling 314, family 337, Joseph Rouse (Head); digital images. Heritage Quest ( : retrieved 10 July 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 798.

1910 U.S. census, Marion County, Missouri, population schedule, Hannibal, p. 121, dwelling --, family --, James F. Davidson (Head); digital images. Heritage Quest ( : retrieved 10 July 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 798.

1910 U.S. census, Boone County, Missouri, population schedule, Columbia, p. 177, dwelling 302, family 228, Charles O. Davidson (Head); digital images. Heritage Quest ( : retrieved 10 July 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 770.

Telephone Conversation:

Librarian. Hannibal Free Public Library. Telephone conversation regarding Polk Directory 1911-1912. July 21, 2009.


Collector, The Telephone. The Telephone 2008.


Blogger Jasia said...

I love when you write these sorts of articles, fM... entertaining and educational! Thanks!

July 21, 2009 at 9:08 AM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Thank you, Jasia. They are some of my favorite to write.

I'm going to "dial back" (pun intended) the social networking and write. It's where my heart is.

Just call me the "Anti-social footnoteMaven."


July 21, 2009 at 9:17 AM  
Blogger Brett Payne said...

And I suppose you all know without me needing to remind you that Hannibal, Missouri was Sam Clemens' boyhood home. I'm currently reading the very interesting, although rather lengthy, biography "Mark Twain - A Life" by Ron Powers (publ. 2005 by Free Press, New York, ISBN-13: 978-0-7432-4899-0). By April 1911 he had been dead for just over a year, departing - as he had predicted - with Halley's Comet, although the tourist industry based around the stories of his legendary youth was probably already well developed.

July 24, 2009 at 2:30 AM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Hey Brett. I am a Missouri girl born and raised, and a lover of Mark Twain. I was also fortunate enough to marry into a family with a Mark Twain scholar. That's made for some of the best conversations I've ever had.

It is said Samuel and my Great Grandfather Isaac Campbell belonged to the same Lodge. A letter from Clemens to that ancestor has since disappeared. I continue to look.

Going to check out your book.


July 24, 2009 at 11:50 AM  
Anonymous Sheila said...

She doesn't look especially happy, does she? But with a husband 40 years her senior, I suppose that's understandable.

I love all the detail you've managed to pick out of the card.

July 30, 2009 at 1:24 PM  

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