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Special Rate Train Trip Tennessee to California–Write Today for Particulars!

Many a marketing and/or advertisement campaign included postcards. I’ve got a variety of postcards advertising one or another product, plus various postcards announcing gift subscriptions, and more. Today, however, I’m focusing on a travel tourism endeavor for which I happen to have not one but two connected postcards sent to the same person.

The recipient was Emma Looney, then living in Decherd, Tennessee. Alas, in her case the U.S. Census is not particularly helpful. I have 78 postcards from an album she kept, but there’s no ready match for her in 1900 given the dates of the postcards and names/initials of family members versus the potential hits in the Census; since Franklin County is on the border with Alabama she might have been born elsewhere and her family moved to Tennessee after 1900. In 1908 she married Knox Moore, who may have been John K. (Knox) Moore in the 1910 Census but it’s unclear.

That said, this particular Emma Looney taught at the Franklin County High School in Tennessee, for 1907-1908. It was the inaugural year, and in August she wrote to her mother in Decherd, Tennessee, “We opened with 75- the enrollment reached 80 today, and we hear of more to come. Already have sixteen boarders, with places engaged for some more.” She didn’t teach the next year, after getting married, and at least one of her former pupils was sorry for it.

In the spring of 1908, Emma received a card encouraging her to join a special trip West to California.

Photograph of a mountain and river with the caption "Mount Sopris On Colorado Midland Ry." -- on the side is stamped "Special train, special rate to California. Delightful party. Write quickly. Address A.N. Eshman Radnor College, Nashville Tenn."
Trip advertisement postcard #1

According to a post on Historic Nashville, A.N. Eshman had relocated to Nashville from Mississippi in 1905–or rather, returned to Tennessee where he’d been born around 1865. He had solid academic career, having served as superintendent in Huntsville and as president of the Southern Female College. In Nashville, he founded Radnor College (which he gave up in 1914), and, in 1908, had evidently decided to organize a group trip. A special, dedicated train at a “special rate” which he described as a “Delightful party.” On the reverse, a stamped message exhorted the reader not to miss “that great western outing,” sure to be “the trip of your life.”

Stamp. 2 Postmarks: Nashville Tennessee 7.30 P.M. [illeg] Mar 1908 and Dechert, Tenn, 8 A.M. 26 or 28 Mar 1908. Typewritten message: "Why not begin planning and saving now for that great western outing? You'll miss the trip of your life if you miss that tour. Write for particulars. Very truly," signed A.N. Eshman, Pres.
Trip advertisement postcard #1, reverse.

The postmark isn’t clear, but it appears the card went out late in March on the 26th or, possibly, the 28th.

How did A.N. get Emma’s name? She might have attended Radnor College in 1905 or 1906, before going to teach at Franklin County. While it’s possible she taught at Radnor, I doubt it.

Because on the 28th, another card headed toward Emma also advertising the trip. It had a different image, but bore the same stamped message on the front.

Photograph of a mountain seen from the end of a railroad tunnel with the caption "Cameron's Cone From Tunnell On Colorado Midland Ry." Below is stamped "Special train, special rate to California. Delightful party. Write quickly. Address A.N. Eshman Radnor College, Nashville Tenn."
Trip advertisement postcard #2

As a side point, it’s interesting that both of these cards use images from Colorado–specifically from the Colorado Midland Railway–to advertise the trip. The suggestion is that it’s the sights along the way that are the attraction as much or more as reaching California.

At any rate, the reverse of this postcard offers much more information for analysis.

Stamp. Postmakr Tracy City, Tenn., 11 AM 28 Mar 1908. Handwritten message: "I suppose you High School people received cards of this kind today. This is a fine $155 trip, and if you want to go west I'd advise you to write for particulars. I gave your names as ours who might be interested. Grace, Luella, and I, also friends here, are going. We are all enthusiasm. Hope you will decide to go. Sincerely Hallie Hampton.
Trip advertisement postcard #2, reverse

A woman named Hallie Hampton apparently shared Emma’s name and was fully aware that other cards advertising the journey were being sent out and might have been received a few days earlier. The absence of a salutation (i.e. no “Dear Emma” or “Dear Miss Emma”) leaves open to question just how well Hallie knew Emma, particularly since Hallie referred to Emma as one of “you High School people.” Did this mean Franklin County High School in particular? Alternatively, Hallie may have had connections with a number of high school teachers. Hallie dropped the names of two others, along with her, who are going and “are all enthusiasm”–and uses first names only, with the implication Emma knew them.

Hallie did let slip the price: $155. This was probably the equivalent of several thousand dollars today. There’s no indication Emma went on the trip, based on the available postcards from later in 1908. These place her in Tennessee, albeit relocated to Huntland following her marriage.

That said, she appreciated the postcards enough to retain both and give them places in a postcard album.

“Special Rate Train Trip Tennessee to California–Write Today for Particulars!” copyright 2021, A.R. Henle.

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