Grandma Julia’s Christmas Postcards

Grandma Julia (Julia Ann Moore James) kept some of her most-prized postcards within an album, or two. The prize in this case was not a recognition of monetary worth but rather of her most priceless possession–her family and close friends. The same was true for Aunt Etta, daughter to Julia. However, Aunt Etta’s albums seem to be twice as thick, a sign of her times as postcards grew in popularity.

In this blog, I shall present a selection of Christmas postcards that were sent to Grandma Julia, from one of her albums. Next week, or so, I will follow with a similar selection of Christmas postcards that belonged to Aunt Etta. Finally, just prior to the holiday, I shall post a selection from my grandmother, Gra Gra’s collection. These are my three leading ladies as outlined in my Blog Intro Intro to my blog.

To learn more background on Grandma Julia, please see my previous blog post: Intro to Grandma Julia and the Bitgood’s Pine Knoll Laboratory.

Grandma Julia’s Siblings

Julia’s parents, George Martin Royal Van Buren Moore and Harriett (Daniels) Moore had eleven children: Clarissa, Harriett, Mary, Julia, Betsey, Florinda, Sarah, George, Ethan, Ellen, and Emma. In future blogs, I will do further exploration about them but make mention here, briefly, as a couple of the Christmas postcards shown below are from or about her siblings.

Grandma Julia’s Children

Grandma Julia was married to Charles Henry James and they had ten children: Harriett, William, Charles, Henrietta (Aunt Etta), Martin, Ethan, George, Charles, Byron and Frank. Again, I will explore them further in the future but wish to aid the reader when I reference the sender of the postcards that are posted below.

My featured postcard was sent by Aunt Etta and her husband William Hooper in 1909 to Grandma Julia, in Plainville, Mass. from Franklin, Mass. Here is the written side view:

There is no indication of a publisher on the featured card, but it shows that it was printed in Germany. This card has an embossed technique which adds texture to the surface.

The next postcard, shown here, “A Merry Christmas” was sent by Bertha, my grandmother “Gra Gra” to her grandmother Julia.  It reads: “Dear Grandma, I wish you a very very very Happy Christmas Day. Bushels of love from your granddaughter, Bertha.”

Gra Gra was 17 years old at the time she sent this card.

This card was made in Germany and was postmarked in 1908, from Arctic (West Warwick), Rhode Island to Plainville, Mass.

This is one of only a few cards in this selection that is not embossed.

Shown below is the written side.

The next two postcards shown are embossed style and say on the front “A Merry Christmas”. Each card was sent or given to Julia by her sister Emma, on two different years. There is no postmark appearing on the cards so I am uncertain of the date. One card reads: “We wish you all a Merry Xmas. To Julia from sister Emma.” The second card reads: “With much love to all. From sister Emma, sister Julia.”

And here is the reverse side of these two cards:

The postcard displayed here, “Christmas Wishes, To Greet You” was sent to Grandma Julia by her sister Ellen.

The postmark on this postcard was from Westwood, Mass., sent to Julia at 69 King St., in Franklin, Mass. The year is not readable, but I think it is 1913 as that is the street address which matches another card sent from someone else in the same year.

The written side of this postcard reads: “Dear sister and brother (Julia’s brother Ethan) – A Merry Christmas to you both – Lovingly – sister Ellen.”

The publisher of the card was B.B. London, printed in Germany.

Below is the reverse side:

The next few images are actually from a regular folding-style Christmas card, not a postcard. It was found inside of Grandma Julia’s album along with the other postcards.

This card is just beautiful, very unique I would say. The front cover says “A Merry Christmas”. The next page is a signature page, with verse: “To wish you every Happiness” and is written to “Mother” from “May and Will”. This would be Julia’s son William and his wife Mabel “May” (Dollof) James. The following page of this card has a very nice verse on it:

The verse inside reads as follows:

Christmas is here,

and with all my heart,

I send you a

greeting rhyme,

For upon your face

shines the tender grace,

Of a dear old

by-gone time,

So for old sake’s sake

take my words of cheer

And my warmest wish

for a bright New Year.

The embossed postcard shown below “A Merry Christmas” with Santa driving the old car was published by H.I. Robbins, Boston and Copyright in 1907. The card was sent in 1908 to Grandma Julia, in Plainville, Mass., by Dewey, from Hyde Park, Mass. He was a son of William and May (Mabel). The written side reads: “Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Dear Grandma, from Dewey.”

The next three postcards were sent from grandson Leroy James. To learn more about Leroy, please see my previous blog: A Thanksgiving Greeting from 1908!

This embossed postcard, Santa walking with the polar bears, was postmarked in 1911 from Boston, Mass., and was sent to Julia in Franklin, Mass., in care of W.T. Hooper (Aunt Etta’s house).

It reads: “Hurry up Grandma. Santa Claus is waiting for you, put on your old gray bonnett. With love from your grandson Leroy James.

At the time he sent this card, Leroy was 14 years old.

Below is shown the reverse side with his written message.

On the front of “A Merry Christmas” card, shown below, is a girl pulling a sled with a little “rider”. This card was postmarked in 1912 from Boston, Mass., and was sent to Julia, in Franklin, Mass. It reads: “Dear Grandma, I hope you will have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and I hope you will get lots of presents from Santa Claus. From your loving grand child, Leroy James.”

At the age of 16, in 1913, Leroy would send Grandma Julia a final Christmas postcard. On the front side of the card it says “Season’s Greetings” and shows a lady, in a lovely purple dress, sitting within a wreath. There is glitter attached to the front.

This card was published by the National Art Company and Copyright 1906. It was postmarked from Boston, Mass., and addressed to Julia at 69 King Street, in Franklin, Mass. It was via the message on this card, from Leroy, that I was able to learn that the “brother” referred to by sister Ellen on her postcard (shown earlier in this blog) was actually Julia’s brother Ethan.

This is the message written by Leroy in 1913: “Dear Grandma, We had a lovely Thanksgiving with Aunt Etta and Uncle Will but I was sorry you were not here but we will make up for it at Christmas time with love to Uncle Ethan and a big share for yourself. From your loving grandson, Leroy James.”

Shown here below are the reverse sides of Leroy’s cards from 1912 and 1913.

 It is sad to think about, but both Leroy and Grandma Julia died within the next year, in 1914.

The following two postcards shown here below (just the front sides) are both embossed style. I believe they were sent to Julia from friends. The card shown on the right, has no postmark and reads: “With the Season’s Greetings. Mrs. Stewart.” The card on the left, is postmarked 1910 from Plainville, Mass. and it just has initials signed: “S.S.”

Finally, my last two postcards displayed below (again, just the front sides) have no writing, no postmarks but I thought they were nice cards to show. Both of these cards are embossed. The card, on the left, says on front “Bright be your Christmas” and was made in Germany.

So, there you have it, a few select postcards from Christmas past, during the very early 1900’s, by way of Grandma Julia’s album.

Until next time…

Intro to Grandma Julia and the Bitgood’s Pine Knoll Laboratory

She was the fourth born of eleven children, Julia Ann (Moore) James and she was my great great grandmother. In 1907, according to the postmark on my featured postcard, Grandma Julia was residing at 18 Pleasant Street, in Plainville, Mass. Upon some effort on my part via the Internet, I made an attempt to find an existing home in the present day at that address with no success. Therefore, I assume either the address numbers on the street have since been changed or the home no longer exists.

The Bitgood’s Pine Knoll Laboratory, was operated by George E. Bitgood and was located in Farnumsville, Mass., which is a historic district encompassing the Village of Grafton. Located on the Eastern bank of the Blackstone River, the Village has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1996. According to the front of this postcard, Bitgood’s sold an Original Compound, vegetable syrups, ointments and powders including the use of roots and barks.

It seems that the postcard was sent to Grandma Julia to serve as a reply after her payment for an order was sent.

On the front right edge is a handwritten message for a receipt, to the best of my ability, it says: “Your check received allright, many thanks for same and promptness. Yours in Respect, G.E. Bitgood Farnumsville, Mass. 8/14/07”

Grandma Julia was born December 19, 1836 in Salem (Chesterfield), Conn. to George Martin Royal Van Buren Moore and Harriett Otis Daniels. Her father was born in the Chicopee Mountains, Monson, Mass., on April 5, 1804 and died at the age of 79 in 1882. He married Harriett Otis Daniels in Old Lyme, Toron, Conn., they had eleven children. In upcoming blog postings, I will get into more details about some of the siblings and other extended family as they come into play with exploring the postcard correspondence.   

Grandma Julia’s mother Harriett was born in 1812, the only child of Betsey Widger and Ransford Daniels. He was a sea Captain and was lost at sea, leaving behind his widow and daughter. Betsey Widger remarried to Stephen Otis and they had ten children.

At the right here is a tin type photo of Julia Ann (Moore) James probably from the late 1800’s.

In 1853, Julia married Charles Henry James, in Massachusetts, and they had ten children, two of whom died as infants. In a later blog, I will list their children. Charles Henry was born July 1, 1824 in Bennington, Vermont. He was the son of William Henry James and Catherine Jane (Simmons) James Northup. From his parents William and Catherine, he had two siblings Henrietta and Sally. After his father’s death, at about the age of ten, Charles Henry and his sister Henrietta were placed with the family of Dr. Wilcox who sent him to Williams-Town College. After the death of Dr. Wilcox he lived with a family named Mattison at North Pownal, Vermont.

According to my grandmother’s notes (Gra Gra), that were passed down to her from her own father…this William Henry James was a writing and music teacher. He hired a school and taught evenings in Providence and surrounding towns, 12 lessons for a $1.00. When he was not teaching, he ran a shingle mill.

After William’s death, Catherine remarried to Ichabod Northup, Jr. and they went on to have a son also named Ichabod. I may explore this further in future blogs, as my genealogy research continues on this branch.

Both Grandma Julia and Charles Henry James were Nurses by occupation. Julia retired in 1909, only five years prior to her death. In this photo, Julia is on the left. I am not sure who the other girl is.

Prior to 1860, Julia and Charles resided in Dighton, Mass., then in at least the 1860, 1870 and 1880 Census they lived in Providence, R.I. In reviewing some Census information in prep for this blog, I noticed in 1860 they had a Phillis Moore, age 84, living with them. There will need to be some more research with this but it is possible she is Julia’s Great Aunt. At first, I thought maybe it would be her grandmother but her father’s mother’s name is supposed to be Clarissa. So, perhaps I can get the mystery solved and share that another time.

Charles Henry James died on December 19, 1892, in Providence (sadly, notice that was on Julia’s birthday). From reading the postcard correspondence, from the collections passed down, I have learned that after this timeframe, Julia tended to reside in Plainville, Franklin and Attleboro, Mass.

This photo was appears to be taken not long before her death and it is actually a real photo postcard. The gentleman standing in the back would be her son, it was either William or Martin. The two ladies, I am not certain who they are but I think they would be either her granddaughters or nieces. I am still working on better identity for them. Although I have most of the genealogical data on this branch, trying to figure out who they are in the pictures can be a bit difficult.

Grandma Julia Ann (Moore) James died on April 12, 1914 at the age of 77 yrs., 3 mths., 24 days. Her residence was listed as 121 Peck Street, in Franklin, Mass. According to her death certificate, she had Cancer of the Pylorus (stomach) over the previous year and had been sick for a month from February 27th until the 12th of April. She and Charles Henry (along with their daughter Harriet) are buried in Springvale Cemetery, in Rumford, R.I. Since I learned this a few short years ago, I have made the trip a couple of times to visit their graves, I do have photos but they are not handy at the moment.

This introduction for my great great Grandma Julia is compiled of a few more “facts and figures” and a little less personal touch than I might like. However, as I am able to share some of the postcards that belonged to her and can share her correspondence between family members then more will be learned and shared about her life in a more personal way.

My next blog will introduce you to the last of my three “leading ladies” Aunt Etta (Henrietta). She is the daughter of Julia and Charles Henry…assumably named after Charles Henry’s sister Henrietta. Until next time…