Saturday, December 10, 2011

Postcard: Wishing Thoma
a Merry Christmas in 1913

Keeping up the Christmas theme, here's a colorful postcard that was mailed in December 19131 from Alexandria, Virginia, to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Interestingly, there seems to be no indication of what company manufactured this postcard. There is a copyright symbol on the front. On the back, it states, "Series 318 A."

The postcard is addressed to Mr. Thoma2 J. Miller, 610 Schuykill [sic]3 Street, Harrisburg, Pa.

The note on the left-hand side of the back states, in cursive: "Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. From your Grandaughter [sic] Anna."

1. Around the time this postcard was mailed -- on December 21, 1913 -- Liverpudlian journalist Arthur Wynne published a "word-cross" puzzle in the New York World that is considered to be the first crossword puzzle. Check it out here.
2. Thoma is an interesting name. My understanding is that it's a common historical surname in Germany. (Here's one geneaology site that mentions it.) As a first name, it seems to be a bit less common, especially in the United States.
3. Americans have a long history of being unable to spell (or pronounce) Schuylkill correctly.


  1. What a gorgeous postcard, Chris! I wonder, though - may the grandaughter (sic) from Schuykill (sic) have possibly misspelled "Thomas"? She certainly doesn't have a great track record in spelling, at least judging by this postcard! :D

  2. In the 1910 and 1920 United States Federal Census records, there are several "Thomas" and/or "Thomas J." Miller's listed in Harrisburg, but none on Schuykill Street. There are also no "Thoma J. Miller" names listed in those years.

    As Mel mentioned, this may be meant to say Thomas.

  3. Interesting, Blake. Appreciate the research. ... Were you looking up "Schuykill" or "Schuylkill"?

  4. There was actually no need to look up an individual street name. In the census records for those years it lists the street names along the edge of the pages. The house number is usually included as well for each household.

    I have an paid membership, so anything you need looked up, let me know.

  5. If you find out who the publsher of the Post Card is, let me know. I have a card with an identical Post Card header but underneath it is an additional little Trademark of an S inside a larger Q. I have net been able to identify the trademark, yet...

  6. The Harrisburg Telegraph of April 29, 1918 shows a photograph of a Paul W. Miller, son of Mr. and Mrs. H. J. Miller, at the same address (610 Schuylkill Street). Source:

    According to the Evening News of Harrisburg dated September 2, 1918, Paul W. Miller was a lieutenant. Source:

    The property at 610 Schuylkill Street was a three-story brick building. Source:

    Numerous sites list other owners over the year. There was a chimney fire there in 1933, when the property was owned by a J. D. Brightbill:

    Google Earth, Realty Trac, and similar sites seem to show that the property is now gone.

    This does not solve the mystery of who Thoma (or Thomas) J. Miller was. The fact that "Mr. and Mrs." is not listed in the address suggests that Anna's grandmother may have predeceased her grandfather.

    Who Anna was is even more of a mystery.