Friday, February 20, 2015

Nannie Wilson

The young woman whose likeness was captured in this Real Photo postcard image was a schoolteacher in Red Wing (or Redwing), Kansas in 1907-08. The names of her pupils are neatly written on the back of the card:

Harry Hall
Willie Ruble
Amelia Proksch
August Proksch
James Ruble
Matilda Heoffner
Blanch Cliff
Carl Winkle
Joseph Heoffner
Ethel Bailey
  Alloys Heoffner
Dell Wylie
Richard Bailey
Stella Ruble
Regina Smith
Anna Proksch
Rosine Winkle
Isabell Bailey
Joe Proksch
James Bailey

Below the names is the following inscription: "In loving remembrance of days spent to-gether in district 31./ Nannie Wilson / Teacher".

There are twenty students listed but some of the surnames are repeated (there are four children named Bailey, four named Proksch), so Wilson undoubtedly taught a range of ages at the same time, presumably in one room. Amy Bickel, who writes the Dead Towns in Kansas blog and has photos of the area as it looks now, includes Redwing today among the state's more than 6,000 ghost towns.

There are identifiable traces of a number of Nannie Wilson's pupils in census records and other online sources, but I'm not inclined to pursue them. Perhaps in this case I just feel that the stories of these people don't belong to me, that I have no right to them.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Some rocks

for Michael Leddy

Top: Ogdred Weary (Edward Gorey), The Dancing Rock (bound with Dogear Wryde, The Floating Elephant), The Fantod Press, 1993. Shown: cover and sample page. Purchased at the Gotham Book Mart. Bottom: Peter Blegvad, Stones in My Passway, The London Institute of 'Pataphysics, 2002. Shown: cover, title page, and sample page.

Friday, February 13, 2015


"Just a few of our crowd and guess you will know the majority of them. If not will tell you of them later." Mailed from Salina, Kansas to nearby Culver in either 1906 or 1908. The recipient was a Miss Blanche Caldwell.

"Made by Frank E. Mohler McPherson Kans." The Mohler family name was common among the members of the Church of the Brethren, a pietist (and historically pacifist) sect with roots in Schwarzenau, Germany. The individuals in this photo may have been associated with McPherson College, a Brethren-founded institution.

The fact that Frank E. Mohler had his name and address pre-printed on the back of the card suggests that he may have been a professional photographer, at least briefly. His identity is complicated somewhat by the fact that various records mention a Frank Ellis Mohler and a Frank Martin Mohler, both of whom had ties to religious institutions and to Kansas. Frank Martin Mohler, who seems to have been the elder of the two by a few years, attended Washburn College in Topeka and later went to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, before serving for a number of years as a Y.M.C.A. missionary in China. The less distinguished Frank E. Mohler was a teacher in McPherson during World War I, but then seems to have headed west; a man by that name is recorded as having sold water heaters in San Diego around 1930, having operated a bookstore there in the later 1940s, and having died in 1960.

The image above, taken by the Garver studio in Dodge City, Kansas, shows the Prough family. The Artura stock on which it was printed was manufactured from 1908-1924. There are various records of that family name in Dodge City during those years, but I haven't been able to identify the family more specifically.

All three of these photographs were printed as Real Photo postcards.