General Info,  Katheryn McMahon Newton Album,  Presentation/Appearance,  Social,  Travel

Lots to be seen but, I can’t see it

Katheryn McMahon Newton album, cards 66-70

Image of Brown's Lake, Wisconsin, with a roof visible among the trees lining the shore. Message: "Friday 5.15 Dear Kit-- Lots to be seen, but I cant see it Fred"
Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 23 August 1907

As shown above, the title for today’s post comes from one of Fred’s postcards. I’m not sure what Fred meant when he wrote it, but I know what I mean by including here. This post will raise questions–most/all of which will never be answered. In short, we’ll know that there are things to be seen, but be unable to see them.

You have been warned!

Up to now, the bulk of postcards have been from Fred to Katheryn during the period in 1908 when they were engaged (presumably) but before their marriage. By-and-large, he’s written lengthy notes on the cards and on multiple occasions used all available space barring that left for the stamp and the address.

Check just about any of the previous posts with his cards, and you’ll see.

Ah, but these cards? They have short messages. I do mean short. The title above quoted from one of the cards? It’s the whole of the message other than the day and time, salutation (“Dear Kit”), and Fred’s signature.

Or is it?

Take a look at this card which, handily, appeared in the album on the same page–likely courtesy of whomever sorted them once upon a time.

Exact same image with an X added over the roof. Message "X Indicates our cottage? With P.[?] Fred"
Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 4 July 1907

Looks familiar, eh? The only difference, other than the message, is the X marking the spot. This card went its merry way to Katheryn over a month before the former, but she kept it. Fred likely knew she had. Perhaps the later postcard was intended to invoke the earlier and raise memories of the time they had both been at the lake.

I don’t know who sorted the cards (never will) but in the album they were placed on the page in this same order. So whether or not Fred intended the association, it manifested in the album–and with placement suggesting the marked postcard as an answer to the statement about inability to see. After all, when on the album page no one could see the postmarks and thus a viewer might well assume they’d been sent in reverse order to reality.

It will not surprise those of you following along with the album that Fred sent more than one card on the same day. Two other postcards postmarked with the same place, date, and time, accompanied the July 4th postcard. Both also portray images close in proximity to that already shown. Evidently at some point prior to July 4th, Fred and Katheryn had both been to Burlington, Wisconsin, and enjoyed a stay at Brown’s Lake.

For those who might be interested, Browns Lake lies in Burlington, Racine County, near the southeastern end of Wisconsin, and relatively close to Chicago. Nowadays, the drive from Katheryn’s home to Browns Lake would run a little over eighty miles and hence an hour-plus allowing for traffic. It may have been a vacation place for Chicagoans of sufficient means–although the cards offer no clues as to whether the lake was a retreat for the well-to-do or the middling classes. My suspicion is the latter–but that’s not something I’ve researched (yet).

These cards, too, have very short messages: “Dam it? The Mill!” for an image of The Mill Dam in Burlington, and “Miss you Horribly” for the other view of Brown’s Lake.

I admit to having peeked ahead at the remaining cards. There are a few from 1907, but not many and none from earlier than these. How many cards did Fred write and send to Katheryn in 1907? No one will ever know. Odds are some of the cards that were removed from the album when it was picked over came from that time period (others may have come from 1908). If they were courting and not-yet engaged, or even if they were engaged, Fred might have opted for different types of cards–such as romantic images–which are more collectible than little-known geographic locales.

A glance or two at the reverses of these cards offers us another mystery. Can you spot it?

I suspect you have spotted it, but I’m going to skip to the missing card in the sequence before returning to discuss the mystery.

Keen eyes will have noted that this post covers cards 66-70, but the cards thus-far shown haven’t included 67. That’s because it’s the strange bird in the flock. Based on the front, it belongs with the rest–or so whomever sorted them likely decided, since it portrays a waterfall and followed another waterfall. I’m only showing you the image here, but as with all the other cards signed “J.T.R.” this was addressed to Miss Anna McMahon.

Horse Shoe Falls from Table Rock, Niagara Falls. Signed JTR
J.T.R. to Anna McMahon, 13 July 190x

And now back to the mystery challenge–Fred changed how he addressed the cards, from “Miss Kittie” to “Miss Katherine” (later “Miss Katheryn.” As above, I peeked ahead a bit in the cards remaining. There are a few addressed to “Miss Kittie” but they come from July or earlier with two possible exceptions (for which the postmark is missing and/or I can’t make out the date). All the others, from August onward, go to some variation on Katheryn. There is at least one 1908 card to Katheryn from someone else that calls her “Kittie”, but none that I can see from Fred. As discussed in an earlier post, he mostly uses a variety of endearments as salutations to the postcards from 1908.

At some point between July and August, Fred evidently changed how he thought of her. Maybe he proposed or maybe he didn’t. Perhaps he decided that Kittie was a fine name for a woman to court, but he wanted the world to know his fiance more formally as Katheryn (by whatever spelling). Why the change? It’s a mystery. We’ll never know.

But we can have fun speculating, so guess away!

“Lots to be seen but, I can’t see it,” copyright 2021, A.R. Henle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *