Sunday, February 12, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day! A Dozen Antique/Vintage Greeting Cards from Sarah's Scrapbooks

I'm delighted to share some of the Valentine's Day cards Sarah Eva Howe pasted into her scrapbooks. None of them are dated, but I've assigned time frames based on the clippings, photos, and other items on the surrounding pages. The dates are pure speculation, and I welcome your thoughts on when these cards were published.

While I would like to see the other side of these charming valentines – to see who sent and received them and to read any handwritten messages – I dare not risk destroying the cards by trying to separate them from the crumbling scrapbook pages. Some of the cards are crumbling, too.

1880s – 1890s


Sarah married in 1905. By 1920 she had four living children: Robert King Salyers (1907), James Richard Salyers (1910), Mary Alice Salyers (James Richard's twin, 1910), and David Hillis Salyers II (1915). I speculate that all but the first of these cards belonged to those children. Several of the cards were in a scrapbook Sarah compiled for her youngest son.
The first card has an Irish look to me, maybe a nod to the Howe family's strong links to Ireland. Her grandparents John Howe and Sarah Brown Howe immigrated to the U.S. in 1847.

I hope you enjoyed seeing these 12 vintage cards. Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Howe-Winslow Letters, Part 2: Dust-up Over the Ghent Ferry

Roughly half of the packet of letters between John J. Howe of Carrollton, Kentucky and his uncle Henry M. Winslow of Harriman, Tennessee are about Henry's trials and tribulations as owner of riverfront land and a ferryboat landing at Ghent, Kentucky. I found the letters both fascinating and surprising. After reading them, I think both Henry and his nephew may have been disorganized and easily distracted in their business practices and a bit inept in money management. In this post, I will tell you why I think so.

On Jan. 1, 1923, Henry wrote to Paul M. Williams of Lexington, inviting him to buy Henry's riverfront property in Ghent.
I have been paying no attention to this matter [the land and related ferry business] for many years past as I had too much on my hands here and have just let this matter rock along at the insignificant sum of $35 per month.  ...  This is a perpetual ferry franchise, tho I conveyed the right to the land in front of the town of Ghent for wharfage purposes exclusively reserving all of the ferry rights some years ago.
The Graham Ferry Company, which by the 1920s had been transporting people and goods across the Ohio River between Ghent, Kentucky, and Vevay, Indiana, for a century, paid Henry $35 per month to dock at the Ghent wharf.

Ferry (the Eva Everett?) at the Ghent Riverfront
Throughout the packet are letters from John (Henry's agent for business conducted in Carrollton and Ghent) to Martha A. Graham, acknowledging receipt of the monthly rent payments from the ferry company. Also there are a few letters asking about a missed payment. These inquiries were sent months after the fact, and John's words included phrases such as "I have no record" and "am unable to account for." Was he just softening the demand for a late payment, or was he admitting he could have misplaced the rent checks?

Letters from the rest of 1923 include information about both men getting loans of $500 and $1000 from multiple banks; both men receiving notices of late re-payments on those loans; and notes related to John's campaign for U.S. Senate. My impression is that the campaign was soaking up much of the borrowed funds.

On Feb. 8, 1924,  J. L. Graham writes to John Howe about a problem with the Ghent ferry landing:
Dear Sir:
As manager of the Vevay & Ghent Ferry Co. I wish to draw your attention to the attitude of the Ghent Authorities in regard to the road leading from the bank at the top of ferry grade to the state pike, "about one square." They stopped all tobacco trucks (during the recent thaw) coming from the ferry.
The tobacco pool officer proposed to put metal on the street & then continue to haul but they [the town of Ghent] would not permit them to do so.
I have put from $25 to $100 of metal on the ferry grade each year for the past several years, have had to do so to keep road somewhere near on a level as we have deep deposits of soil on each side of the road every year, as a result of this new metal & constant washing to remove the mud. I have a good hard road [is he referring to the ferry grade on the Indiana side of the river?], but the town of Ghent has only put about 5 yards of gravel on the grade in the past 5 years. I was just wondering if they could be persuaded to repair same so as not to stop our business, it seems there was an agreement between Mr. Winslow and the Town of Ghent whereby the town was to keep the street & grade in repair (to the foot of the bank) in exchange for the Ferry landing proper just one square farther upstream, the idea being that the large str [steamboat] could not use the lower landing during low water.
I have had to move the ferry dock up to the upper landing for the past several summers & the City authorities have had the [writing illegible] notify me to not use their landing.
I wish you would kindly investigate this matter right away.
Yours very truly,
J. L. Graham

In a letter dated March 24, 1924, a man named Leon Ash asked John to find out the lowest price Henry would accept for the Ghent ferry. (I assume that means the land and ferry rights.) John wrote to Henry:
Ash is now living in Vevay and is more or less familiar with the trouble Graham has been having about the road, but nevertheless is interested and, as I have thought for some time, is the best prospective purchaser around here.
Henry responded while on vacation in Florida:
On Sept. 16 – six months after Mr. Ash first expresses interest in buying the land – John invites Ash to his office to discuss the matter, saying that he and Henry had not given this matter consideration recently but would be pleased to hear from Ash if he was still interested. Were John and Henry so busy with other matters (or so disorganized) that they forgot about this possible offer? Or was this gamesmanship on their part?

John and Mr. Ash did meet, and on Sept. 19 John wrote to Henry:

In response, Henry balked at $5,000 and favored a $7,000 minimum. He also expressed a desire to sell the "circus" lot (see note below under "Two Other Bits of Interest . . .") for $300-$375 and, in a later note, proposed selling his lots on Second Street to Dave Miller for a good price – and offered to finance the purchase. Obviously, Henry is selling off assets to raise cash – either for John's campaign (to which he contributed $10,000) or for other reasons.

Several letters sent by both John and Henry during 1924 include comments about lack of funds – not just for the campaign but for meeting general obligations. The year 1925 began with Henry alerting John that he had received no ferry rental checks for the past 14 months – a total of $490. The Grahams routinely sent the monthly rent checks to John, who would send them on to his uncle. Why had Henry received no checks for 14 months? Was John so busy with his campaign and with his work as commonwealth's attorney that he didn't get around to sending them? Did John (I hate to think it) apply the money to his campaign with intentions of making good sometime down the road? Why did it take Henry 14 months to notice he hadn't been receiving his money? More hints at disorganization and careless business practices on both sides.

Then Henry got into a bit of tax trouble. Judge Matthews of Carroll County notified Henry (through John) that the Ghent School District expected Henry to pay school taxes on his ferry property. Henry offered several reasons why the school board had no right to tax the property. Judge Matthews held steady, warning that the school district could proceed to sell the ferry franchise to recoup the unpaid taxes. In a letter dated June 19, 1924, John postulated that by hiring someone to monitor the ferry business for a month, they had brought unwanted attention to themselves. He also reported that the judge had made some unflattering remarks about the ferryboat owners.
It seems that our having those receipts checked for a month has revived this old ambition on the part of the Ghent folks to gouge you for taxes. Judge Matthews was anything but complimentary concerning the Grahams, saying that they were lacking in enterprise, and most difficult to get along with, and that that was the reason why it would be impossible for you to sell the ferry at anything like a reasonable price as long as the Grahams would have to be contended with.
On July 2, 1925, Mr. Albertson, apparently the manager of Henry M. Winslow's law office in Harriman, Tennessee, reported to John that Winslow wanted to pay the taxes to avoid interest or penalties, but that the firm's bank account was "somewhat low" and would not cover the cost. Mr. Albertson wrote:
If the Ghent folks make demand for the payment of this $160 before Mr. Winslow sends it to you, just give them your check for it and then draw a sight draft on Mr. Winslow thru the First National Bank of this city to cover same. And I will of course take care of the draft when presented for payment.
The tax was apparently still unpaid on Aug. 29, 1925, when John notified Henry that the trustees of Ghent had hired an attorney, J. Wirt Turner of Newcastle, Ky., to collect the tax payment. 

On Sept. 12, John sent Henry the school district officers' receipt for $160. It appears that Henry Winslow lost the battle and paid the tax.

I'll have to do more research to determine if Henry ever sold the various parcels of land, if he got the prices he wanted, and if either man ever managed to solve their cash-flow issues. 

Two Other Bits of Interest

On March 9, 1923, John notified Henry that Joe Miller offered to pay $10 per month to rent Henry's "circus lot" to cultivate corn. I think this lot was close to Henry's riverfront land, because I came across a picture of elephants boarding the Robert T. Graham ferryboat.

On Nov. 30, 1923, John wrote to his uncle about his busy days in court and refers to his hope to win a seat in the U.S. Senate. Notice the second paragraph in this excerpt. He mentions that the court in Carroll County had, for the first time, women serving on the jury. Momentous event!

Within an hour of publishing this post, I found this small document. It appears to be a Kentucky State Bank deposit receipt showing that John J. Howe deposited a $650 check from J.L. Graham on Jan. 15, 1937. What was Graham paying for? Henry Winslow died in 1931. Was John his executor? Was Graham buying ferry rights from Winslow's estate? Was he paying a previous debt to Henry or John? Was this a payment toward buying the land at which the ferry docked?

The mysteries continue.

More information and images of Ghent ferryboats and related topics:
Switzerland County (Indiana) Historical Society
Kenton County (Kentucky) Public Library
 Kentucky Kinfolk
Juanita Graham – First woman in the district to get a river pilot's license (1900)
News of a fatal accident involving the ferry
More photos and history of ferryboats
"Brief History of Switzerland County, Indiana"
"19th Century Overview of Vevay, Indiana"

Photo Credit: The ferry image in this post appears on the website Original source: Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Howe-Winslow Letters, Part 1: John and Uncle Henry Confer on John's Campaign for U.S. Senate – and Blame the Anti-Saloon League for His Loss

The handwriting above this photo of John Junior Howe (1879-1939) says "vote for." Because of other items in the scrapbook, we think the writing was by John J.'s 1st cousin once removed, David H. Salyers II (my husband's father, 1915-1981). "D2" would have been 9 years old in 1924, when John was a candidate in the Kentucky Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. John would have been 45. Although John ran for public office several times, I think this scrapbook entry pertains to his unsuccessful race for U.S. Senate.

Remember my comments in the previous post about having a packet of letters between John and his uncle Henry M. Winslow? I found a picture of Henry in the Carroll County section at Northern Kentucky Views. It identifies him as an lawyer and president of Carrollton National Bank. The image is not dated.
 reports his birth date as 3 Aug 1850 (Carrollton, Kentucky) and his death year as 1931 (Sarasota, Florida). I'd estimate Henry to be 40 to 45 years old in the photo. (There's gray in the beard but no facial wrinkles.) That dates the image to 1890-1895. I'm  speculating, of course.

Most of the letters in the packet include one or both of these topics:
  • John J. Howe's campaign as the "dry ticket" candidate in the 1924 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. (Remember that several of the Howe men were card-carrying, tee-totaling members of the Temperance movement.) Most of the letters on this topic were focused on campaign finance.
  • Henry's trials and tribulations related to owning the Carroll County, Kentucky, land from which a ferry made sojourns from Ghent to Vevay, Indiana, home base of the ferry's manager, Martha J. Graham.
In today's post, we focus on the campaign.
The Senate Primary Campaign of John J. Howe
John used caution as he made his decision to throw his hat in the U.S. Senate political ring. Here's an except from a letter he wrote to Uncle Henry on Nov. 9, 1923:
Now that the Democratic state ticket has been elected by such an overwhelming majority [William J. "Honest Bill" Fields, who like John J. Howe was a Methodist and a prohibitionist, was elected governor], I will soon begin to enter into the activities of my canvass much more vigorously and will shortly confer with some of my most dependable advisers preliminary to making my formal announcement.
On Dec. 3, 1923, Henry expresses a possible obstacle between John and victory in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate:
I am a little astonished and concerned to know what effect Gen. J. Tandy Ellis' candidacy will have upon your prospects, thinking probably that Senator Stanley's friends are pulling him out into the race in order to divide the dry vote with you.
(Augustus O. Stanley represented Kentucky in both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate and was the state's governor 1915-1919. Fellow Kentuckian  J. Tandy Ellis had multiple connections with him. Stanley was Howe's victorious opponent in the Democratic Party primary for U.S. Senate in 1924, but he lost the general election to Republican Frederick M. Sackett)

Just three days later, Henry writes to his nephew:
I got it in the neck to the tune of about $6000 in the Roane Chancery Court last week. And I am proceeding to pay it up before I leave here tomorrow to meet you in Lexington on Saturday.  . . . In view of this large unexpected demand upon me which I am proceeding to raise the money and pay off rather than continue longer in the courts, kindly do not clip or send in any of the coupons or expect any interest payment before the first of January on behalf of your mother and Lille, as I will be away in Florida until about the first of next year and may not be able to leave my finances in such condition as to meet these demands before that time.
Henry apparently was a defendant and lost in court to the tune of $6,000.

In the packet of letters I purchased, the correspondence about the campaign jumps from December 1923 to July 1924. Now we see a lot of references to cash, loans, rejected loan applications, and the like. On July 2, the president of Louisville National Bank, Richard Bean, writes to John J. Howe at his campaign headquarters, Room 349 Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, with carbon copies to John at his bank in Carrollton and to HMW, likely Henry M. Winslow in Tennessee:
I return herein the note inclosed [sic] in yours of the 30th ult. for $1000.00 because we are not seeking outside loans now Mr. Howe, and, of course, the loan as you offer it is rather unusual anyway. Whenever individuals borrow over $1000.00 we generally have collateral. I hope you can furnish that on this paper without any inconvenience.
I interpret the language to mean that John proposed borrowing $1,000 or more from the Bank of Louisville but was turned down flat.

Then on July 7, Henry replies to a letter from John – a letter in which John wrote, "It will be necessary soon for me to have more and if you are not coming this way soon maybe you better arrange it if possible." Henry responds:
I was in Chattanooga this morning and sold some of my stuff at really about 10% less than I thot [sic] it was worth and nearly 10% less than I was substantially offered last January, and I got for it the enclosed cashier's check for $1820 which I have endorsed to you. Do you suppose that you will be able to pull thru with this? If not, give me the best estimate you can as to what any balance you think I ought to contribute, will likely be.
Henry asks for the total cost of what campaign advertising has cost in the county and city newspapers, as well as the cost of travel and hotel lodging. He reports that relatives in Lexington have commented that John has "about a million of his pictures put up over the cities and country on every post, tree, telephone pole, windows, etc." While Henry admits that the relatives might be exaggerating a bit, he suggests that this kind of publicity may be "over-done."

He adds his opinion that the "Democrats in New York at the Convention are acting a fool very considerably and their chances of success in November maybe considerably lessened by reason of the bickerings they have had among themselves and that Coolidge and LaFollette may each reap considerable benefit for the lack of gumption among the democrats." (Indeed, Republican candidate Coolidge defeated Democrat John W. Davis and Progressive candidate LaFollette.)

Four days later, Henry returns to the topic of posters, relaying reports from Lexington:
. . . some of your friends as well as your enemies are adversely criticising [sic] your extravagant use of posters in that section of the country. I suggest if you should not warn your county managers against repeating this kind of advertising to the extent of over-doing it. However good this "poster" kind of advertising may have been in the more or less remote past, when it was first started, I hardly think it is apt to amount to much after it has become a sort of "old song" to which little attention is paid.
On July 17, Henry expresses dissatisfaction with the system of campaign finance. As I read it, I wondered if the Anti-Saloon League, a powerful, temperance-promoting social/political organization, was demanding money from the candidates it supported. Later in the letter, Henry expresses appreciation for the way a Republican running as a Progressive is funding his campaign. Again, we hear themes that may be familiar today, almost 93 years later.

The letters continue, back and forth. The men occasionally meet in Lexington, Carrollton, or Cincinnati to discuss campaign strategy and family business. In what appears to be his last letter to John during the campaign, Henry urges attention to "getting out the unpurchasable [sic], reliable and honest voters."

The primary election must have been soon after Henry wrote this letter, because a letter written by Henry's daughter Alice on Aug. 7 expresses sadness and surprise over John's loss.
It seemed to me that every body [sic] I knew was going to vote for John as there is so much feeling against Stanley. ... I was sorry too when John sent out word after the election that he would support Stanley in the fall. I think that was a mistake as well as wrong. John knows the type of man Stanley is and all he stands for, and to think that just because he is Democrat that he [John] would support him now in the Fall. It would be far better for us to have a good dry republican for a couple of years and get rid of Stanley than to keep him as a disgrace to the party and state.
The packet contains post-election letters, more of them from Henry to John that from John to Henry. We must extrapolate some meaning and make some guesses along the way. I get a sense from Henry's letter dated Aug. 9 that John wrote to him soon after the loss at the polls, thanking his uncle for his generous campaign support (Henry contributed $10,000 in an eight-month period) and maybe apologizing that he did not win. Henry responds:
I do not regret a thing in regard to the whole matter, except that the anti-saloon league did us up the way it did. I am of the opinion that its management is mostly rotten and merely, in recent years especially, becomes a mere graft on the candidates which it sees proper to to endorse for its supposed strength.
Perhaps my old friend Young and some few are reasonably honest (being largely deceived of the Devil however) but they are for the most part nearly as rotten as the old parties have gotten to be, and in their vain imaginations only pretending to earn their salaries and perquisitses [sic].
If in your experience with them you think that I am much misjudging them I would be glad to know.
. . . Still yet your affectionate uncle,
The last few letters about the campaign and election tell us a lot about money. It's easy to assume that both John and Henry were prosperous. Both came from entrepreneurial, successful families. Both worked as attorneys. Both were bank officers and had financial interests in land and other assets. The letters from Henry seem to cast doubt on that assumption. In a letter dated Sept. 3, 1924, Henry itemizes his outstanding loans:
I am up to my limit in both the banks here and another bank in Tennessee, besides having $4100, which I renewed at the Louisville National Bank, with the understanding that I would pay it about the first of November. This, besides the $5000 which I have from the Carrollton National Bank, including a $3000 note of Mr. Kennedy, discounted there by me. . . . I will see what other help I can render you, but if I add on another thousand, it will have to be by increasing my notes at Carrollton from $5000 to $6000 and putting up collateral. And taking out Mr. Kennedy's note discounted there.
Three days later, John writes back to his Uncle Henry, describing his own financial woes:

Did John accidentally buy a farm? Was he at the auction to inflate the bidding but got caught with the high bid? If he made a habit of that, it's no wonder he lacked cash!

More questions than answers at this point – and some of those answers may never be found.