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Thursday, August 20, 2009

"Greetings From" plus "Who is Katie Gerber?"

I've spent parts of the last few days looking through a stack of old area post cards that were loaned to me by Pat Steinhauer. Most of them were from the early 1900's and were either sent or received from members of her family, both on the Allen and Corlis sides.

In the early through the mid 1900's most towns had small mom and pop stores that sold local postcards. Mail was delivered twice a day and most people used postcards to communicate short, simple messages much as we would use the telephone, email, texting, or Twitter today.

Following are old postcards from specific towns in our area. I thought many of you out in the Blog-O-Sphere would enjoy looking at them. I know that I did.

A variation of the "Greetings From" postcard.

Now, regarding this last postcard, I thought we would have a little quiz. Most people know where the above places are, but who will be the first to tell me where Randolph was and why it isn't there any more? The answer to this question is important to everyone doing serious geneology in our area.

Hope you enjoyed a look back at an early, popular form of communication.

Pete S

PS- While not a "Greetings From" postcard, the following is the oldest postmarked postcard that I have seen from our area. It's a birthday card from Katie Gerber that was mailed from Batsto on October 9, 1896 and delivered on the same day to Miss M. Etta Corlis. Actually, I believe M. Etta Corlis was Marietta Corlis who eventually married Ruy Allen from New Gretna, as her marriage certificate lists her as "Miss MaryEtta Corlis" and the photo of Katie Gerber (See Below) was scanned from a photo album which came from her family. She would have been seven years old in October, 1896 when Katie Gerber sent the Happy Birthday postcard.

The very early postcards had no space for writing a message on the back of the card, so the writer had to be creative in writing a message on the card's front. Katie wrote the following message around the border - Keep this card until Dec. 27 and then think of me. I will arr [arrive] as soon as I can. Give my love to all the people. Remember me Dear. from Katie Gerber. Batstow.

Interestingly, the card was routed through the Elwood postoffice . . .

Another reason that this postcard is special for me is that I have a photo of a Katie Gerber. I always like to put a face on a name from the past. The question will become, we will soon see, "Is this the Katie Gerber that wrote the postcard?"

Katie Gerber (Photo courtesy of Paul Steinhauer.)

I am unaware of the relationship between Katie Gerber and Marietta Corlis; however, I've done a little detective work on the Gerber family at Batsto that someone out in the Blog-O-Sphere might be moved to follow up on and, perhaps, discover a relationship between Katie and Marietta. But first we must determine "Who is Katie Gerber?"

John Pearce, on page 132 of his book, "Heart of the Pines", presents the following photo of a group of people standing in front of the Grist Mill at Batsto, around 1910. Three of the people are identified as Gerbers - Jules and his wife, whose name is not given, and Pauline. What is striking about the photo is that Pauline Gerber looks remarkable like the photo of Katie above. She even has the same hair style! I would surmise that they were sisters.

Circa 1910 - Photograph Taken in Front of the Grist Mill
Standing (L to T): Rev. Martha Jervis, Jules Gerber and his wife, Amos "Boney" Ford, and Ada Coleman
Seated: Pauline Gerber and Mag Love.
Herbert Adams is holding his brother, Percy, and their mother, Mary, is next to them.
Percy was still living in Batsto as late as 1976.
(Photo courtesy of Budd Wilson.)

A quick trip to produced the Gerber family in Washington Township in the 1885 New Jersey Census, the year before the Happy Birthday postcard was written. Since Batsto is in Washington Township, I'm sure this is the correct Gerber family. The 1885 New Jersey Census is particularly valuable as the 1890 Federal Census was destroyed by a fire which leaves a 20 year gap in the Federal Census records in the late 1890's. It is somewhat difficult to read, but we can make out the following: Julius is listed at the top. This agrees with Pearce's photo and gives us the name of Julius' wife, Catherine. The children are listed as Julius, Jr.; Pauline (in the Pearce photo); Lewis; Willie; Katie; Philip; and George. This confirms that Katie and Pauline are, indeed, sisters. But, is this the Katie who wrote the postcard? At first blush it might appear so.

The 1900 Federal Census, below, lists much more data to help us in our quest to learn more about Katie Gerber and her family. The narrowness of the Blog format makes the small print difficult to read, but the effort is worthwhile.

We learn that Julius' wife, listed as Catherine in the 1895 New Jersey Census, is listed as "Kattie" in the 1900 census. The use of this common nickname for Catherine now gives us two "Katies" in the family. The younger Katie, 9 years old in the 1900 census, would have been only 5 years old when the postcard was written; therefore, I think it is safe to assume that her mother, also called Katie, wrote the postcard. The Katie in the above photo is the daughter. It's also important to note that three more children have been added to the family since the 1895 census - Charles, Edward, and Herbert.

Columns further to the right of the 1900 Census data shown above indicate that both Julius and Katie, his wife, emigrated from Germany, he in 1880 and she in 1881. Julius' occupation is listed as a farmer.

Hopefully, this Gerber information will some day lead to the discovery of a relationship between Marietta Corlis and Katie Gerber who were connected by our 1896 Happy Birthday postcard.

PPS- The nature of the message written on the front of the card does not sound, to me, as if it were written to a seven year old. It seems much too adult in nature to me. That gets me to wondering if M. Etta Corlis is really Marietta Corlis as I had assumed. But, then, maybe the Happy Birthday was for Marietta and the message for her mom. I'll leave that delema for another time. This genealogy business is never easy.


  1. Found this information on the Gerbers:


  2. Phyllis,

    Great detective work! I'm going to have to put you on the Blog's payroll. Interested? I'll give you the same as my salary.


    Pete S

  3. Pete,

    My great grandmother Melinda (wife of Keever) Allen was also a Corlis. She originally came from Stafford. The 1880 census shows 2 older brothers, Hankinson and Hilliard, who later showed up in Bass River. The 1910 census #119 shows the family on Simms Place Road. Marrietta is listed as Hankinson's daughter as 19. Right age for Ruy's bride. We'll have to check the marriage records.

    John Allen

    ps: Randolph Township was absorbed by Washington Township in 1893.

  4. oops, closer exam shows that she is daughter-in-law, married to Hankinson's son John.

  5. John,

    Unfortunately, I don't have much info on the Corlis family, so I can't be of much help. The little I do have lists Melinda's parents as Joshua and Maria Penn Corlis with Hankinson listed as Melinda's brother. Could there be more than one Hankinson? Perhaps a Hankinson, Jr.?

    Anyone out in the Blog-O-Sphere who has info (genealogy info, photos, etc.) on the Corlis family, I'd like to hear from you. I can use all the help I can get.

    Pete S

    1. My great grandfather is Hankinson Corlis who married Annie. Their children were Marietta, Rena, Stace, John, Horace and Vernon (who is my grandfather).His parents were Joshua Corlis spelled (Corlies) and Maria Penn Hankinson. If anyone has any pictures of my family I would love to have copies of them. Let me know - Thanks!