The Psychogenealogist Pic of the Week (#58)

Every Friday The Psychogenealogist shares a "Pic of the Week." The intent is to encourage thought and imagination about the spaces where psychology, genealogy, and history converge.

This week, in preparation for Valentine's Day, we have a cute postcard from 1907 featuring a couple of young lovebirds. We catch them in a romantic moment on a court of some sort. 

The postcard was postmarked from Battle Creek, Michigan in August of 1907. It was sent to a Miss Alice Dickerson on S. Jefferson St. in Hastings, Michigan. 

The card reads:

Your card from Ohio came all O.K. Spose you had a dandy time. When are you going to write. We have been to the lake for 2 weeks are going tonight for over Sunday.
R.M.B.
75 S. Division St. B.C.

This was actually one of the easier postcard mysteries to solve. A simple Ancestry.com search for an Alice Dickerson in Hastings, MI around 1907 led to the following 1900 U.S. Federal Census entry:

 1900 U.S. Federal Census - Hastings, Michigan

1900 U.S. Federal Census - Hastings, Michigan

In 1900 Alice was 11 years old and lived with her grandmother, Sorah (presumably Sarah) McClintock (age 67). Two of Sarah's children also lived with them in 1900 on Jefferson St, Nettie Hendershott (44) and Orteman McClintock (29). I would guess that Alice is Nettie's daughter, but the different last names are curious.

There is a birth record indexed listing for an Alice G. Dickerson born on April 2, 1889. Her father is listed as Clarence Dickerson (36) and her mother is listed as Isa L Hendershott (31).

Alice G Dickerson 1889

I found some evidence that Isa Henderhshott was a full sister with Nettie Hendershott, and half sister to Orteman McClintock. 

Interestingly, I found a death certificate for Nettie that indicates she died in 1905 at the Michigan Asylum for the Insane in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

 Nettie Hendershott death certificate, 1905 

Nettie Hendershott death certificate, 1905 

Check out this wonderful gallery from the Kalamazoo Public Library that features photos from this institution, later known as the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital. Here are just a few of examples. There are about 100 photos in the full gallery. 

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I found some of this information on an very large public tree on ancestry.com. It had over 19,000 entires listed it. I contacted this person who said that the people describe here are distant cousins of her aunt's husband. They were only very tangentially related to her, and not by blood.

With a little more searching I am sure I could find what happened to Alice and her mom, Isa. If I ever get to that here are some of the genealogy and psychology questions I would focus on.

Questions:

  • Is Alice's mom alive in 1907, the year of this postcard? If so, why isn't she living with her daughter?
  • Why was Nettie institutionalized?
  • How were issues of "insanity" and mental health handled in the early 1900s?
  • How does institutionalization impact your genealogy research?
  • What game are they playing on the front of the postcard? It looks like a weird combination of tennis and lacrosse. 
  • Who is R.M.B., the presumable sender of the card?
  • Is there anyone connected to this family that might be interested in having this postcard?

 

As always, please let me know if you discover anything. Feel free to post it in the comments below or send me an email. I'll be sure to post any updates in the future if I get them. 


Do you have an old photograph or a genealogical story that you would like to share? I am happy to consider guest submissions for possible Pic of the Week or other blog posts in the future. Send an email to info@psychogenealogist.com for more information.

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