Samuel W. Kirvan, Pilot, Game Warden, Publisher…

Sault Saint Marie, Michigan…

If ever a guy was game (just a happy coincidence with the pun) to try new things, it seems that Sam W. Kirvan, was one such guy. S. W. Kirvan, the publisher of the Old American Locks postcard in our prior post, was also at various times, a pilot, fishing guide, fish and game warden, vaudeville theater partner, store and restaurant owner. Not surprisingly then, but luckily, as we can see from the ad below, he was also a very good self-promoter. (In the world of antique postcards it’s uncommon to find a likeness of the actual publisher.)

Samuel W. Kirvan was born in Ontario, Canada, November 15, 1862, and died December 26, 1937. He was the son of Irish immigrants, Martin and Ellen Jane Kirvan. The 1871 Federal Census shows Samuel at about age 6, with his family in Arran Township, Bruce County, Ontario. On October 3, 1886 he married Margaret Ann Harper, in Cheboygan, MI. It’s not clear how long he may have published postcards. The 1893 date comes from a snippet book result that shows up on another site with a later estimated date for the same four-page publication, and the American Locks postcard is 1906, though there may have been later ones. There don’t seem to be too many of S. W. Kirvan’s postal cards that survived. In any case, his name can be found numerous times in the Sault Ste. Marie Evening News, as well as in census records and city directories. The following is an occupational timeline with rough date estimates:

1892 – Fruit and confectionery store bought from T. A. Campbell

Pilot and fishing guide – 1893 – ? 18 years experience as a pilot per ad

Deputy game warden – June 1893 – ?

Publisher of tourist views and postcards – 1893 – 1906?

Fruit and candy tent sales – May 1894

Restaurant at 59 Portage Ave. W. – 1898

Fur dealer – 1900 Federal Census

Dealer in Indian curios – 1900 – 1905

Opening vaudeville theater with Mr. Devine – 1906

Bought the Gerrish Cafe on Portage Ave, Sault Ste. Marie – about April 1906

Hotel manager – 1920 Federal Census

Owner of cigar store and billiard room – 1922 – ?

Owner of decorating store – 1930 Federal census

Some clippings below from the Sault Ste. Marie Evening News….

Notice of appointment to Chippewa County deputy game and fish warden, dated June 3, 1893.

Tent sales mention

A clip from a December 20, 1905 article, with Samuel Kirvan later in the article making the distinction that,  “We will allow nothing that parents cannot conscientiously take their children to witness.”

An April 1921 snippet, remembering 1906.

United Cigar Store ad, December 16, 1922. The cigar store is mentioned in a later article as being a cigar store/pool hall.


Sources:  Year: 1871; Census Place: Arran, Bruce, Ontario; Roll: C-9937; Page: 6; Family No: 16. (

Kirvan, S.W. Brook Trout and Black Bass Fishing: Tourists and Others While Visiting Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. .. S.W. Kirvan. Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. (

“Souvenir of the Soo: Scenes Around La Saut De. Ste. Marie, Michigan.”  (1893) snippet view. (accessed May 28, 2017).

R. L. Polk & Co.’s Sault Ste. Marie Directories for 1895, 1898, 1900, 1902 and 1905. ( U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995).

Original data: Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867–1952. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics. (

Year: 1910; Census Place: Sault St marie Ward 3, Chippewa, Michigan; Roll: T624_641; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 0247; FHL microfilm: 1374654. (

Year: 1920; Census Place: Chippewa, Chippewa, Michigan; Roll: T625_761; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 21; Image: 49. (

Year: 1930; Census Place: Superior, Chippewa, Michigan; Roll: 980; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0025; Image: 1052.0; FHL microfilm: 2340715. (

Death Records. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, Lansing, Michigan. (

“Deputy Warden Kirvan.” Sault Saint Marie Evening News. June 3, 1893, Saturday. (

Tent sale. Sault Saint Marie Evening News. May 5, 1894, Saturday. (

“To Open Theatre.” Sault Saint Marie Evening News. December 20, 1905, Wednesday.

“15 Years Ago.” Sault Saint Marie Evening News. April 4, 1894, Monday           . (

United Cigar Stores. Sault Saint Marie Evening News. December 16, 1922, Saturday.      (

Near Nashville, Michigan

Near Nashville Michigan pc1Near Nashville Michigan pc2

“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.

Price:  $15.00

Sources:  Year: 1910; Census Place: Grand Rapids Ward 1, Kent, Michigan; Roll: T624_656; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 0052; FHL microfilm: 1374669. (

Year: 1910; Census Place: Baltimore, Barry, Michigan; Roll: T624_636; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 0036; FHL microfilm: 1374649. (

Year: 1920; Census Place: Thornapple, Barry, Michigan; Roll: T625_756; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 63; Image: 585. (

Year: 1900; Census Place: Grand Rapids Ward 12, Kent, Michigan; Roll: 723; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 0089; FHL microfilm: 1240723. (

Year: 1910; Census Place: Thornapple, Barry, Michigan; Roll: T624_636; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 0052; FHL microfilm: 1374649. (

From A Sister Of Yours

From A Sister Of Yours pc1From A Sister Of Yours pc2

Divided back, unused, embossed postcard. Publisher unknown. Circa 1908

Price:  $20.00

Here’s a wonderfully unusual one:  A postcard with a cropped photo attached to it! The card shows a likeness of a pink rose and bud with the stems holding an unfurled piece of birch bark which bears the inscription  “With Best Thoughts.”  Underneath these well wishes, the sender has glued a charming photo of herself, and written,  “from A Sister of Yours.”  At the top corners she wrote,  “Oakland, Calif.”  and  “September 1, – ’08.”

The card is addressed to:  “Mrs. L. L. Collins, Iola, Kansas”  and signed,  “With Love.” 

Thankfully, for research purposes, the date and place of the card were given, if not the sender’s name. The addressee turns out to be Lydia Loretta (Pember) Collins, born Michigan, July 19, 1867, died Alameda (county or city) California, February 19, 1946; parents John Wesley Pember and Sarah Elizabeth Christie. The Iola, Kansas city directory for 1908, shows Lydia married to Louis L. Collins, occupation travel agent, with their residence at that time being 414 S. First St., Iola, KS. Later, on the 1910 census, Lydia and daughter Lucille are shown living with Lydia’s parents and some of the siblings in Oakland, CA.

The identity of the woman in the photo has to be either Goldie, Edith or Alice Pember. The 1910 Federal Census for Oakland, California shows the girls living with their parents and a brother James Lewis Pember. Goldie, Edith and Alice were all born in Kansas, and at the time the 1910 census was taken, Goldie was about 23, Edith about 22, and Alice about 19. The photo would have been from at least a couple of years earlier, so it could be more likely that it is of one of the older two girls. (Doesn’t she look like she might be in her early twenties rather than seventeen?)

Were we doing a family tree for the Pember and Collins families, we would have plenty to work with, and would be including records from locations in Ohio, Michigan, Kansas, California and Canada. (Interesting to note some moving back and forth between Kansas and California and to take note of Louis Collins’ seemingly unusual occupation, for that day and age, of travel agent – but this likely meant traveling salesman, as we see the term come up in pretty often in census records.) And per the census records, the full list of Pember children appears to be:  Lydia, Valentine, Charles, Miles, Mary, John, James Lewis, Goldie, Edith and Alice. The 1880 Federal Census for Jamestown, Michigan shows Mary, age three, and she could be the woman in this photo but this seems highly unlikely, as no other records were found on her. So, we’ll venture to go out on a little bit of a limb and state that here is either Goldie, Edith or Alice Pember! We hope the answer to which Pember sister this is will come to us at some future date.

Sources:  Year: 1880; Census Place: Jamestown, Ottawa, Michigan; Roll: 601; Family History Film: 1254601; Page: 559A; Enumeration District: 247; Image: 0319. (

R. L. Polk & Co.’s Iola City Directory including Gas And LaHarpe, 1908. p. 60. ( U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989)

Year: 1910; Census Place: Oakland Ward 1, Alameda, California; Roll: T624_69; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0077; FHL microfilm: 1374082. (

California, Death Index, 1940-1997. Place: Alameda; Date: 19 Feb 1946. (