Postcard to Mamie: 110 Years Ago

On October 28, 1907, the postcard shown above was mailed and postmarked from Thomasville, N.C. to Miss Mamie L. Thomas.  The address for Miss Mamie L. Thomas was St. Luke’s Hospital, South Bethlehem, PA.  Only the address was written on the backside of the postcard, because the instructions on the postcard read “THIS SIDE FOR THE ADDRESS.”

The front of the postcard showed the Carnegie Library in Greensboro.  A strip of white space on the right side of the front of the postcard was designed for the written message.  It helped that in 1907 many individuals used sharp-pointed ink pens for correspondence.  This correspondent managed to write six cursive lines in the 1-inch by 3.5-inch space.

On March 1, 1907, the “divided-back” postcard came into use, with equal portions of the card to be used for the address and the message, with the sections appropriately marked.  But the undivided back postcards were still in use after that date, probably until the stock of the older design was exhausted.

Messages are always interesting to read, if they are legible, and if they say more than “having a good time, wish you were here.”  The message is signed “Your cuz, Corinne,” and mentions the fact that she is going to Expo on Friday and then will be at 14 E. Franklin St. in Baltimore after November 6th. She mentions that her mother and (illegible) had a nice 2-day visit with Blanche and returned yesterday.  And, there is a line on the front of the postcard that reads “I spent last Thursday in Greensboro.”

The line on the front of the postcard explains why she sent a postcard of the Greensboro Carnegie Library, which was built in 1902.  The “expo” that she mentioned could be the Jamestown Exposition that ran from April 26 to December 1, 1907, at Sewell’s Point on Hampton Roads, in Norfolk, Virginia. It celebrated the first permanent English settlement in the present United States.

Since the postcard was addressed to Mamie L. Thomas, and it was signed “Your cuz, Corinne,” we might search through to find a cousin named Corinne.  It turns out that there was a cousin named Mary Corinne Thomas and she was born in the same year as Mary L. Thomas, and that was in 1870.  Mary L. Thomas was better known as Mary Lillian or Mamie Thomas.

Mamie and Corinne were cousins through their fathers, who were brothers.  Their fathers were the sons of John Warwick and Mary Lambeth Thomas.  John W. Thomas was known as the founding father of Thomasville.  Mamie was a nurse and Corinne was a teacher, and both were unmarried.  But there was another difference in the two women.  Mamie’s mother was Maria Caroline Butner, a Moravian, and the daughter of Adam Butner, and the sister of Harriet “Hattie” Butner Clemmons.

Mamie graduated from Salem College and trained as a Red Cross nurse.  She served in this capacity during World War I at Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Georgia. Following her service in World War I, she spent several years in Alaska, working as a medical missionary of Home Moravian Church.  She returned to Winston-Salem in 1932, and lived there until her death in 1950.  As the photograph shows, Mamie also made beeswax candles, probably for the Candle Tea in Old Salem, dressed in the clothing of a Moravian woman living in earlier times.  Mamie is buried in God’s Acre in Salem.  Her cousin, Corinne, died in 1936 and is buried with her family in the Thomasville City Cemetery.

Color postcard images courtesy of Molly Grogan Rawls. Black & white photo courtesy of Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection.

Stay tuned for the next historical post on November 15th.


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