To Mrs. Johanna Johnson of Stillman Valley

To Mrs Johanna Johnson Of Stillman Valley pc1To Mrs Johanna Johnson Of Stillman Valley pc2

Divided back, Real Photo Postcard. Postmarked from Stillman Valley, Illinois, circa 1910 – 1919.

Price:  $15.00

“Skulle jerna skrifva ett brev men då blir min sida ond så vill ej fõrsõka. Hullo Mor Hur ãr det med er vi ãr alla friska hãr hoppas vi ãr det samma.”

Well, shouldn’t the ã and õ be spelled ä and ö?

This postcard is from about 1910 (You can’t quite read the postmarked year but it looks like it’s the 1910s for sure.) Maybe it’s a historical difference in the letters with accent marks? I will find out shortly and update this post.

“Skulle jerna skrifva ett brev men då blir min sida ond så vill ej försöka. Hullo Mor Hur är det med er vi är alla friska här hoppas vi är det samma.”

The note in Swedish appears to translate roughly as:

“I would write a letter, but then my side starts to hurt so I didn’t try. Hello Mother How are you, we are all healthy here, we hope it is the same with you”
The sender goes on to write in English…

“We have canned 75 quarts of sauce, 9 of sweet pickle, 10 of fruit Butter, 60 glasses of Jell, 29 glasses of Jam. Elin went to lottas yesterday. with love Anna.”

Most likely Anna is either of the lovely young women in the postcard photo. They both wear rings on the left hand; perhaps they are sisters. We searched for possible married names with maiden name Johnson but this is one of those that would require more time; nothing jumps out at us as an “ah-ha!”  type of thing. They are hardworking, that we know, according to all those pickles and jellies, etc. that got “put by.” 

The addressee, Johanna…

“Mrs. Johanna Johnson, Stillman Valley, Ill.   % Chas. H. Johnson”

According to a couple of census records, Anna’s mother, Mrs. Johanna Johnson was born in Sweden in July, about 1840. The 1900 Federal Census for Rockvale, Ogle County, Illinois shows she is with her husband, Gust (Gustav?) L. Johnson, who is born in Sweden, September, about 1832. Their son, Charley H., was born July, about 1877. Johanna and Charley emigrated to the U.S. about 1884, and Gustav the year before. The family is farming, and Johanna is listed as the mother of eight children, five of whom are living in 1900. By the 1910 census, Charles is married (Sophia) and they go under the spelling of Johnston. Johanna is widowed but living with her son and daughter-in-law. Also in the household by this time, is Swedish born, John Levin, hired farm labor.

Another clue about the family appears as the little note written sideways on the back of the note, and in pencil:   “Anna sent this to me thinking you would be here.”

Sources: Year: 1900; Census Place: Rockvale, Ogle, Illinois; Roll: 333; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 0090; FHL microfilm: 1240333. (

Year: 1910; Census Place: Marion, Ogle, Illinois; Roll: T624_314; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 0077; FHL microfilm: 1374327. (

Alaskan Blue Fox

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Divided back, unused, commercial-type Real Photo Postcard of Arctic Blue Fox. Photographer:  Robinson. Number or Series:  316-E. Circa late 1940s.

Price:  $15.00

The blue (a smoky gray, blueish gray or black) is a color phase of the Arctic Fox. See photo 4/16 by Bjorn Anders Nymoen (Your Shot) in this link.

Most likely, the image of this beautiful animal can be attributed to travelog lecturer and world traveler Karl Henry Robinson.  Many newspaper accounts can be found detailing some of his travels and lecture stops, including the two articles below:

Karl Robinson article 1  San Bernardino County Sun, Oct. 15, 1950

Karl Robinson article 2  The Bakersfield Californian, Nov. 18, 1949.

Reminiscent of My Cousin Vinny….

In researching other possibilities for photographers named Robinson, we find a color postcard of Franklin Street, Juneau, Alaska attributed to a Howard Robinson under publisher J. Boyd Ellis for sale online. However, also for sale, but in black and white and signed “Robinson” (same as our postcard above) is almost the exact same view of Franklin Street. The large clock in both photos show the time as two minutes apart. Are we to believe that two photographers with the last name of Robinson showed up at the same time to take photos of this street, from an identical angle? Highly unlikely. More likely, the color version was adapted from the black and white photo. (We’ve seen this a number of times in the world of postcards. Images are slightly altered, for example, a person is added into the scene, or taken out. Sometimes it’s quite obvious, other times, not so much.) To compare the two, here’s the digital page from Card Cow that, at the time of this post, offers both Franklin Street postcards for sale.

More on Karl…

Karl Henry Robinson, son of dentist Henry S. Robinson and Ella H. Davis, was born August 17, 1902 in Attleboro, Massachusetts. He married Ruth Charmion Cotton in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on February 14, 1939. He died in Los Angeles County, California May 29, 1997.
The following (don’t mind the typo on Karl’s father’s initials) is an article on Karl and Ruth’s wedding:

Ruth Cotton article  San Francisco Chronicle, March 4, 1939.

Sources: “Arctic Fox. Alopex lagopus.National Geographic. (Web accessed August 16, 2016.)

“Karl Robinson To Deliver Speech On ‘China Journey.’ ” San Bernardino County Sun, 15 October 1950, Sunday, p. 16. (

“Alaskan Films Presented to Large Crowd at Forum.” The Bakersfield Californian, 18 November, 1949, Friday p. 22. (

Card Cow digital page image re search for “Robinson” and “Alaska”. (Web accessed August 16, 2016.)

Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840–1911. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts. (

State of California. California Death Index, 1940-1997. Sacramento, CA, USA: State of California Department of Health Services, Center for Health Statistics. (

“Ruth Cotton Married in Pennsylvania.” San Francisco Chronicle, 4 March 1939. p. 107. (

Ice Breakup In Fairbanks, Alaska

Ice Breakup In Fairbanks, Alaska p1Ice Breakup In Fairbanks, Alaska p2

Vintage photo, Cushman Street bridge and Ice Breakup, Fairbanks, AK. Circa 1920s – 1940s.

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

You can see the spire of Immaculate Conception Church that, from this angle, is appearing behind Samson’s Hardware store. The church, built in 1905, is listed on the National Registry of Historic Sites and was originally located on the other side of the river. It was hauled over the ice on skids (logs or planks) to its present location in 1911 so it would be close to the hospital that had been built a few years prior. And that’s the Cushman Street bridge, built in 1917, that is spanning the Chena River. Samson’s, in business since the Gold Rush days (now Sampson’s True Value) relocated in 2010 about a mile and a half west of the site it occupies above. Here’s an image from Alaska’s Digital Archives showing a somewhat similar view of the store (note the long windows) as well as partial views of the church spire and bridge.

Sources:  “Fairbanks – Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.” Diocese of Fairbanks. Missionaries in the last frontier. (Web accessed August 12, 2016.)

Cole, Dermot. “Historic Samson Hardware celebrates grand opening at new store.”, May 22, 2010. (Web accessed August 12, 2016.)

Photo of “Sled dog team on Chena River in Fairbanks.” Alaska’s Digital Archives. (Web accessed August 12, 2016.)