“Dowling, District RFD No. 2, Kenyon. March 13, 1910…My Dearest Cousins, Frank, Dora; Ella and the dear little baby. How are you all to day. We are here on the farm and like it real well so far. We are liveing with the people untill they get our new house done. by by, love & kisses. Pearl and Orla. do write soon”
Card addressed to: “Mrs. Frank Simmons, Grand Rapids, Mich., 355-S Ionia St.”
Well, I love it when the sender or addressee can be found right away in census records, and this was one of those heavenly quick finds. Frank Simmons and wife Catherine are on the 1910 Federal Census taken in Grand Rapids at the above address. Both born in Michigan, Frank is about 47 years old, and Catherine (Dora on the 1900 census) about 39. In the household with them are daughter Ella Finney, about age 18, born MI; her husband George, a waiter at a restaurant, about age 20, born MI; their five month old son Leroy, born Iowa; and boarders Earle (or Carle?) Smith, machine helper, age about 24, born MI; Fred Mosher, carpenter, age about 33, born Indiana; and Peter Fagan, Western Union messenger boy, age about 16, born New York. Many of the men on this census page are working for the railroad, and I don’t know exactly what is meant by this but some entries say “Railroad Shops” which is the case for Frank Simmons, Earle Smith and Fred Mosher.
Dowling, Michigan is located in Barry County, in driving time about an hour southeast of Grand Rapids, and Nashville, Michigan is about twenty minutes northeast of Dowling.
Regarding the senders: Another easy find; they are Pearl and Orla Kenyon. (Ahhh, they were putting their return address with their name at the top of the card.) Orla is doing general farm labor. Since their ages were so difficult to read on this census I went to the 1920. The 1920, taken in Thornapple, Barry County, MI shows: Clark O. Kenyon, age about 47, wife Pearl M., age about 43 and children Margaret, Arthur, Ralph, Forest and Sydney (ages ranging from 16 down to 7.) The whole family is listed as being born in Michigan, although on the 1910, Orla is listed as being born in New York. Where were the kids on this 1910 census? Well, they must of been staying elsewhere till the family got into their permanent place, as there is a second 1910 census taken on April 27th in Thornapple Township. In rechecking the 1910 without the children, that one shows it was taken on May 11th. Maybe the parents were still in the process of moving and so still shown on the temporary address a couple of weeks later.
As to the front of the postcard, which has the caption “Scene Near Nashville, Michigan,” it’s not of the highest quality (and I really bought it because I love birch bark stuff) but the design is nice, showing a birch bark tableau peeled back to reveal a lake scene with a rowboat moored on the bank. This is definitely not the first card with a birch bark motif, so it must have been somewhat in vogue for a while, a holdover perhaps from the days when it was actually used to write on (and am making a new category on this website.)
Just as a side note, and as alluded to above, Clark Orla Kenyon’s place of birth on these census records is varying (rather amusing) from Wisconsin to New York to Michigan.
Divided back, used postcard. Postmarked March 15, 1910 from Dowling, Michigan. Publisher unknown. Number or series 3771.
Sources: Year: 1910; Census Place: Grand Rapids Ward 1, Kent, Michigan; Roll: T624_656; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 0052; FHL microfilm: 1374669. (Ancestry.com)
Year: 1910; Census Place: Baltimore, Barry, Michigan; Roll: T624_636; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 0036; FHL microfilm: 1374649. (Ancestry.com)
Year: 1920; Census Place: Thornapple, Barry, Michigan; Roll: T625_756; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 63; Image: 585. (Ancestry.com)
Year: 1900; Census Place: Grand Rapids Ward 12, Kent, Michigan; Roll: 723; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 0089; FHL microfilm: 1240723. (Ancestry.com)
Year: 1910; Census Place: Thornapple, Barry, Michigan; Roll: T624_636; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 0052; FHL microfilm: 1374649. (Ancestry.com)