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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Postcards- A Valuable Historical Resource

Last Monday we discussed postcards that came from the Allen Variety Store on Allentown Road in New Gretna. The Allentown Road (Now North Maple avenue) street scenes were especially interesting and valuable to me. The postcards, from the 1920's, showed early views of houses that I hadn't seen before and may not be available anywhere else. It makes me, as an amateur historian, want to shout, "Thank God for postcards and those itinerant postcard photographers!"

This postcard of the lower Allentown neighborhood, showing five houses, is an historian's dream. (Postcard courtesy of Paul Steinhauer.)

You're probably saying "Yes, but the houses are so small in the postcard view, you can't see much." Well, modern technology to the rescue! With today's computers and scanners that situation can be rectified. It's a simple procedure to place the postcard on the scanner, make a few mouse clicks, and divide the postcard image into a series of larger photos of the individual houses. In the case of the above postcard, these are the only 1920's photos of these houses that I have.

While obtaining a photo of an individual house from a postcard might not interest or excite most Blog readers, it would be of interest to someone with a family connection to that house. With that in mind, the following are enlargements of the five houses in the lower Allentown neighborhood postcard. I've also included some photos of people who lived in those houses at one time or another. After all, the most interesting thing about a house is who lived in them. If you are aware of others who lived in any of the houses, please email me or write a comment below. Your input would be greatly appreciated.

House #1

This is "Ry" and "Rita" Allen's house where the Allen Variety Store occupied the front room. (Enlargement from postcard courtesy of Paul Steinhauer.)

"Ry" and Rita" Allen scanned from an old tintype. (Courtesy of Paul Steinhauer.)

House #2 and #3

The house on the left was owned by Woodrow and Dorothy Allen for many years. The house on the right belonged to Otto and Monica Kalm at one time. (Enlargement from postcard courtesy of Paul Steinhauer.)

Woody and Dorothy Allen with daughters Marjorie (left) and Eleanor in June, 1945. (Photo courtesy of Almira Steele.)

Otto and Monica Kalm by their Allentown Road, now North Maple Avenue, home (Photo courtesy of Alston and Claire Kalm Allen.)

House #4

This house belonged to Harold and Evelyn Elberson, parents of Betty Petzak who now lives, with her husband, Joe, in the yellow house next door. Harold and Evelyn lived at Sym place before moving to New Gretna. (Enlargement from postcard courtesy of Paul Steinhauer.)

A young Harold "Toots" Elberson before moving to New Gretna. Anyone out in the Blog-O-Sphere who can identify the make and year of the car? (Photo courtesy of Joe and Betty Elberson Petzak.)

A young Evelyn Scott Elberson deer hunting near her home in Sym Place, circa 1920's. Sure looks like Annie Oakley to me. (Photo courtesy of Joe and Betty Elberson Petzak.)

House #5

The final house in the postcard belonged to Thomas Jefferson Gaskill many years ago. It was torn down by Frank and Ethel Archer in the late 1950's a few years after they built a brick ranch house at the back of the property on the Bass River. Charlotte and Ricky "White Shoes" Steele now live in a modern ranch house that was built at the front of the property. (Enlargement from postcard courtesy of Paul Steinhauer.)

Thomas Jefferson Gaskill (1855-1936). Photo courtesy of Norman and Ann Mathis.

Eliza Cramer Gaskill (1859-1896), Thomas Jefferson's first wife. (Photo courtesy of Norman and Ann Mathis.)

You can see how one postcard, with a little ingenuity, can produce valuable photographs that otherwise would be lost. What a valuable historic resource!

So, search your attics, scrapbooks, cigar boxes, etc. for old postcards. They may hold a treasure-trove of information. If you find any of New Gretna, I would be happy to scan and enlarge them for you.

Pete S

1 comment:

  1. My husband is the great grandson of Thomas J. Gaskill. This is the first photo we ever saw of his house, only the second photo of him, and the first photo of his great grandmother. Thanks for this great blog spot.