Maxwell B. McClain’s Calling Card

Calling card, circa 1870s – 1900.

Price:  $5.00        Size:  3 and 3/4 x 2 and 1/4″

Amazing that the rather delicate fold-back portion, the hand offering violets (with a flower faerie choosing to be viewed) of this calling card is still intact.  After peering under or folding back (we tried to be careful when scanning) we see the full name, Maxwell B. McClain. And I was getting ready to type in how many entries under this name were found in census records, city directories, etc. but curiously, none were found that would fit the time-frame for a card of this type, which would probably have been from the later 1800s to the turn of the century.

Rany Lammers Calling Card

Calling card, circa late 1880s – early 1890s

Price:  $10.00            Size: about 3 and 7/16 x 1 and 7/8″

Here’s an old nautical-themed calling card for Rany Lammers, which is probably from the late 1880s to the early 1890s. It’s certainly not in the best of conditions, but could be the only card for this gentleman still in existence, and is a wonderful piece of family history.

Venus Loraine Lammers

A good number of records can be found for Rany, whose full name was Venus Loraine Lammers. (Middle name also spelled Lorraine, Lorain, Lowreen). Most records show him under Venus L., however, the 1880 Federal Census, when he was age eight, shows him as Rany. He was born in Cedar Grove, Wisconsin, May 3rd 1872 and died September 21st 1944 in Los Angeles County, California. He married Charlotte Swanman around 1884. The 1900 Federal Census shows Venus L. Lammers, salesman at a department store and wife Charlotte living in Luverne, Rock County, Minnesota. By 1912 the couple had made their way to California and were living in San Jose.

Lammers importance to Sheboygan County, Wisconsin

Rany’s parents were Garret Lammers (1844 – 1917) and Anna Mary Zeeveld (1848 – 1874). (By the 1880 Federal Census Garret is remarried to Harmena “Mena” Claerbaut.) Garret Lammers twice visited his native Holland, both times bringing back with him a large number of Dutch emigrants.

Venus in the U. S.

The boy’s given name, Venus, is not as unusual as one might assume:  For instance, federal census records in the U. S. for year 1900 show about 130 males under this name.

Sources:  Year: 1880; Census Place: Holland, Sheboygan, Wisconsin; Roll: 1447; Family History Film: 1255447; Page: 45D; Enumeration District: 203 (

Year: 1900; Census Place: Luverne, Rock, Minnesota; Roll: 787; Page: 17B; Enumeration District: 0256; FHL microfilm: 1240787 (

Minnesota Historical Society. Minnesota State Population Census Schedules, 1865-1905. St. Paul, MN, USA: Minnesota Historical Society, 1977. Microfilm. Reels 1-47 and 107-164. (

Zillier, Carl (ed.) History of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, past and present, Vol. 2 (1912) pp. 567-569.

Venus Lowreen Lammers. Find A Grave Memorial# 85446771 (

Charlotte Swanman Lammers. Find A Grave Memorial# 85446768 (

J. J. Mahoney, Trainmaster, Chicago & Alton Railroad

Business card. Circa 1900 – 1910.

Price:  $15.00               Size:  About 3 and 5/8 x 2 and 1/4″

A nice piece of history involving the Chicago & Alton Railroad:  the business card for Trainmaster, J. J. Mahoney. What’s a trainmaster you might ask? Here’s a definition from the Houston Chronical:

“The railroad industry employs many professionals that ensure the safety of trains, their passengers and cargo. A trainmaster oversees the safe departure and arrival of trains at a specific train terminal. They work with yardmasters, conductors and engineers to ensure trains arrive and depart in a timely manner. While other railroad professionals work outside on the train or in the railway yard, trainmasters spend a large majority of their time indoors communicating with staff on the trains.”

So, we did some web searching (per usual) for the full name of our trainmaster, but no luck. However, we did find him mentioned in the publication Railway Age Gazette, that was put out for the first half of the year, 1910:

“J. J. Mahoney, assistant superintendent of the Chicago & Alton at Bloomington, Ill., has been appointed superintendent of transportation of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, with office at Newton, Kan. The office of assistant superintendent of the Alton at Bloomington has been abolished.”

And we’ll add this post to our Unusual Occupations category, not that trainmaster is necessarily so unusual but rather in the probability that many (like myself until now) have never heard of this particular job title.

Sources:  Alton Railroad. n.d. (accessed September 22, 2017).

Michael, Elvis, “What Is A Railroad Trainmaster?” Houston Chronical. (accessed September 30, 2017).

Railway Age Gazette, January 1 – June 30, 1910, Vol. 48, no. 13. p. 916. (Google eBook).

George Gordon Bemis

Set of three:  Two photos size:  About 2 and 1/2 x 3 and 1/4″  and 2 x 6″ and calling card.

Price:  $18.00

Three wonderful finds from Hollister, California:  Formal photography of George Gordon Bemis, as a boy in a sailor suit (name written in pencil on the back) and as a young man in a photo taken by the Bauter photography studio in Antigo, Wisconsin, and lastly, his calling card, showing “G. Gordon Bemis.”

Much can be found online for George Gordon Bemis, born December 2, 1896 in Antigo, Wisconsin, including photos from college yearbooks, WWI Draft registration, census records and a detailed obituary on Find A Grave. The obit states he had married Mary Ross, they had one son, George, Jr., who like his father, became a doctor. G. Gordon Bemis graduated from Harvard with a degree in medicine in 1925. He died in the Bronx, New York October 31, 1982. Backtracking to 1910, the Federal Census taken in Antigo, Wisconsin, shows Gordon with his parents, George M. and Matie E., and sisters Grace M. and Mildred H. His father’s occupation is listed here as timber inspector.

As for the photography studio, we see that it had belonged to photographer Fred W. Bauter, listed on the 1920 census in Antigo, born about 1870. We’ll see if we can find more details for Fred Bauter in an upcoming post.

Sources:  Year: 1910; Census Place: Antigo Ward 1, Langlade, Wisconsin; Roll: T624_1718; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0039; FHL microfilm: 1375731. (

Fred W. Bauter. Year: 1920; Census Place: Antigo Ward 2, Langlade, Wisconsin; Roll: T625_1993; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 109

Registration State: Wisconsin; Registration County: Dane; Roll: 1674749. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.

Find A Grave Memorial# 114936131. (accessed August 28, 2017).

Flora J. Van Fossen Calling Card

Victorian Era Calling Card, circa 1893

Price:  $7.00         Size:  About 3 and 3/8 x 1 and 5/8″

A lucky horseshoe, a spray of single-petaled pink roses and love….

This card appears to have been made for the Miss Flora J. Van Fossen, born Worcester, Pennyslvania, August 21, 1876, daughter of Josiah Van Fossen and Sarah Louise Jones. Flora married James Stroh January 5, 1894 in Camden, New Jersey. The marriage index record shows “Stroak” as the groom’s surname, no doubt a transcription error when viewing the original.

Sources:  “New Jersey, Marriages, 1670-1980,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 31 March 2016), James R. Stroak and Flora J. Vanfossen, 05 Jan 1894; citing Camden, Camden, New Jersey, United States, Division of Archives and Record Management, New Jersey Department of State, Trenton.; FHL microfilm 495,719.

Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Pennsylvania, USA; Certificate Number Range: 004651-007200. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1964.

John Adams Handmade Calling Card

Handmade Victorian Era Calling Card

Price:  $6.00       Size:  4 and 3/4 x 1 and 1/16″

Some people collect old handmade cards; here’s our latest offering, and it’s sure a beauty. And certainly not by the early U.S. president but isn’t that what comes to mind when you hear the name John Adams (unless of course you are someone or know someone by this name?!)

T. A. Stephens Calling Card, January 1886

New Year’s Calling Card, January 1, 1886

Price:  $7.00         Size:  3 and 1/2 x 2″

It’s not often that you find a calling card with a date printed on it, and this one was made for the new year that was 1886. It’s not in pristine shape but in nice condition except for some soiling marks, especially considering its present age of 131 years old. The gold-tone edging has also held up well.  “A Happy New Year”  in block lettering is printed on the little fold, as well as a spray of pink flowers with stem and leaves artistically displayed to appear as if fastened to the card, bringing the bearer this small floral offering along with good wishes. The name  “T. A. Stephens”  and the date  “Jan. 1, 1886”  appear in printed script. Most likely it would have been made for a Mister rather than Miss or Mrs. and it’s tempting to start a search in records, if only to come up with a ballpark, maybe comical number of possibilities….

Okay we’ll cave, somewhat:  From U. S. city directories was he the attorney, T. A. who is (Thomas A.) Stephens in Portland, OR, the T. A. in Manatee, FL, the lady in Hennepin, MN? From the T. A. or Thomas A. possibilities from the 1880 Federal Census:  Was he the farmer in Bell County, TX, the clerk in Wilmington, DE, the attorney in Bodie, CA? The list goes on, and there’s probably about 25 possibilities within just the common first name possibility of Thomas and including T. A. It’s fun to imagine though….

Gustaf A. Johnson Calling Card

Gustaf A Johnson cc1Gustaf A Johnson cc2

Calling card, embossed. Circa 1880 – 1910

Price:  $6.00         Size:  3 and 1/2 x 1 and 5/8″

Here’s another calling card, but there are too many possibilities for this common Swedish name, even with the middle initial included, to try to narrow them down to who this card may have belonged to. The writing on the back (by Gustaf?) is a translation to Swedish of the lovely message that the rosy-cheeked girl displays.

“Across your path may sunbeams play!”

“Må på dén stig solstrålar leka.”

Mrs. S. E. Applegate

Mrs S E Applegate cc1Mrs S E Applegate cc2

Calling card, embossed. Circa 1900

Price:  $15.00        Size:  About 2 and 1/2 x 3 and 7/8″

This calling card (for lack of a better term) with lovely rose design, has an attached (faded) photo of a woman. The flip side has some other writing on it, besides the identification of  “S. E. Applegate”  and  “Grandma Applegate.”  A name with address appears to be “Mrs. N. Fablinger, 3 E. 3rd St.” [?]  and below that it looks like  “A. L. Arble”  (or short for Arbunkle?) or perhaps it’s reading as,  “A. L. Auble.”  Then we have some more scribbling, from the photographer, we presume,  “Bust as is”  (or Best as is?) and, based on some research, a possible train time schedule, showing,  “431”  and  “Callaway.”  

The most likely candidate…

S. E. Applegate is a name that comes up in census records in various places around the United States. However, after a bit of research, the most likely candidate to fit this photo, is Mrs. Sarah E. Applegate, born Pennsylvania, January 1855. The 1900 Federal Census for Dorp Precinct (Gandy vicinity), Logan County, Nebraska reveals:  John Applegate, born Indiana, January 1839, wife Sarah E., born Pennsylvania, January 1855 and daughter Dalorus (Dolores) born Nebraska December 1881. The 1900 for Gandy lists Nicholas Fablinger, wife Lizzie and daughters, Margaret and Lizzie. And Abraham Auble (Abraham Lincoln Auble per additional records), shows up living in Garfield Precinct, Lincoln County, (southeast of Gandy, a short distance.) The name Callaway (originally thought to be the photographer’s name) shows up as a place name. The town of Callaway is located in Custer County, about 40 miles southeast of Gandy:  hence the thought that the 431 could have a been a quick note jotted down by the photographer re catching the train to meet his appointments. Just doing some quick browsing of historical newspapers, it appears there was a proposed Union Pacific Callaway-Gandy extension, though there was a line running from Kearney to Callaway in year 1900. “Detouring” a little to the subject of the town of Gandy and the proposed line we find an interesting June 1914 article in the Lincoln Star. (Click to enlarge.)


A little more about Sarah E. Applegate…

Per an family tree, Sarah was Sarah Elizabeth Clark, born January 25, 1855. She married John Burge Applegate December 21, 1873 in Lisbon, Iowa, and died May 10, 1909 in Gandy. The 1880 census shows John B. Applegate, wife Sarah, and children, Elizabeth, Cyrus and Frank, living in Precinct 7, Custer County, Nebraska. As previously mentioned, linking the photo to this Sarah is our best guess. Gandy, NE and vicinity seems to be the only area that shows all the names mentioned on the back of the card, though the “3 E. 3rd Ave[?]” is a bit of mystery – if that is what it says, it could be for nearby Arnold, NE.  

Sources:  Year: 1900; Census Place: Dorp, Logan, Nebraska; Roll: 934; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 0156; FHL microfilm: 1240934. (

Year: 1900; Census Place: Gandy, Logan, Nebraska; Roll: 934; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 0156; FHL microfilm: 1240934. (

“United States Census, 1880,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 6 June 2015), John B Applegate, Precinct 7, Custer, Nebraska, United States; citing enumeration district 171, sheet 292B, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 0746; FHL microfilm 1,254,746.

“Fire Call From Callaway.” The Kearney Daily Hub. 24 July 1900: p. 3. Web accessed June 6, 2015. (

“Supreme Court Orders A Depot.” The Lincoln Star. 28 Jun 1914: p. 3. Web accessed June 6, 2015. (

Lee T. Lasenby

Lee T Lasenby cc

Calling card or business card. Circa 1900 – 1910s

Price:  $4.00          Size:  About 3 and 1/8 x 1 and 5/8″

A calling or business card estimated from about 1900 – 1910s; of the very plain but serviceable variety, of simply the handwritten name on a card of appropriate proportions. This was found in Salinas, California, in an antique store. It brings us around again to briefly musing on the unpredictability of finding (or not finding) corresponding records:  This name was a quick match-up, and without other likely possibilities showing up.

Lee Thomas Lasenby was born September 8, 1880 in Mason, Ingram County, Michigan; the son of Thomas Lasenby and Ella Haines. He married Mary L. Lee on August 9, 1905 in Mason. Lee Lasenby’s occupation was Farmer on the 1918 WWI Draft Registration card and on the 1910 and 1920 Federal Census records. By the 1930 census he was listed as a Cattle Buyer for a stockyard. The city directories show that he also worked as the County Road Commissioner from at least 1927 through part of 1939. He died August 25th of that year, in Detroit. Per the 1920 census, Lee and Mary Lasenby had three daughters, Ruth, Margaret and Harriet.

Sources:  Registration State: Michigan; Registration County: Ingham; Roll: 1675755. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.

“Michigan, Marriages, 1822-1995,” index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 April 2015), Lee F. Lasenby and Mary L. Lee, 09 Aug 1905; citing reference p 122, rn 1828; FHL microfilm 977,064.

Year: 1920; Census Place: Vevay, Ingham, Michigan; Roll: T625_771; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 131; Image: 448. (

Lansing and East Lansing City Directories, Vol. 27, p. 492. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989

Lansing City Directory, 1939, p. 311. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989

Find A Grave Memorial# 38058306. Find A Grave. Web accessed April 27, 2015.