Collecting,  Miscellaneous,  Thomas Gray Haile subcollection

Good and True and Truthful

Thomas Gray Haile subcollection, overview

Time to switch to a new set of postcards! The Haile cards. These, too, date from around 1907-1908, with some later cards.

Nevertheless, the Haile cards differ in many respects from the Katheryn McMahon album.

  • The Haile cards don’t constitute a coherent album collection. Oh, they were in an old postcard album when I got them . . . but mixed in with other unrelated cards. In short what I’ll be focusing on for the next month or two (or three) is a sub-collection: cards that at some point became part of some one’s collection. Was that someone one person? I don’t know. Were they related to the sender or recipient? I don’t know.
  • The images on the cards are quite different — almost all are drawings rather than photos.
  • They’re not in particularly good condition. In fact, many show notable signs of wear, neglect, damage, and/or mold.

What I do know is — these make for a very interesting contrast. Previously, I shared a large set of cards sent to a woman, the majority from her male fiance. This next bunch is about half as big. They were sent to a man, mostly by a woman whom he was dating? engaged? dallying?

So let me introduce the two central characters we’ll be learning about for a while.

The recipient: Thomas Gray Haile. I located a possible match for him in the 1900 and 1910 census, which suggest he was born in the 1880s in Tennessee and became a lawyer by 1910. Several of the cards suggest he was employed by the Cumberland Telephone and Telegraph Co. circa at least 1907-1908. Regardless, he bopped around some. He received cards addressed to him in Nashville, Gainesboro (possibly his home town), Oneida, and Flynn’s Lick, Tennessee, as well as Kiowa and Coney, Oklahoma, and Lebanon, Texas.

Ultimately, most of what we know about Thomas / Tom /T.G. is where he was (or was expected to receive mail).

He received and kept at least 49 postcards, of which slightly more than half came from a woman who signed herself as “Madge.”

Sadly, Madge never included her full name (then again, why would she? He already knew it). Her cards, at least, were generally postmarked from Gainesboro, Tennessee. This does not make her easy to research. I haven’t found any track of a Thomas Gray Haile married to a woman who’s first name was Madge or anything conceivably nicknamed as Madge. Granted, I’ve mostly searched the Census so far, but still . . .

Madge was likely in her teens or possibly early twenties when she wrote to Tom. Her handwriting isn’t always clear, a matter complicated by the poor state of the cards. There are a number of places where I’m not sure what she wrote.

But some of what she did write — and her choice of cards — is quite colorful and interesting. Almost all the cards she sent had some kind of connection to romantic love and/or affection. She also regularly reminded Tom to “be good” even though she admitted she sometimes had trouble with that herself.

I will be presenting these cards in the order of their postmarks, where legible. Any whose postmarks weren’t legible when I transcribed them will be shared at the end.

So, to whet your appetite, here’s the first card. Unfortunately not from Madge (you’ll have to wait a week–but then there will be a long run of cards from her!)

Head and shoulders of a woman in a fur-lined coat. Ribbon. Printed message "With Best Wishes." Inscription mostly illegible.
[illegible] to T. Gray Haile, 12 February 1907

Not exactly the most legible message. At a guess, the writer was asking how Haile was doing, had received a card from Haile, would be pleased do . . . . do something, maybe go with Haile somewhere? And if you can definitively decipher the sender’s name speak up!

I tried using the auto-enhance on the photo, with not much more luck in reading the message. Ah well. Maybe another time.

It’s a pretty image. Senders often (but not always) matched images to messages. Perhaps the sender sent good wishes for Haile’s birthday? or some other accomplishment? Or just generally . . .

It was sent to Haile in Gainesboro, and postmarked Roughpoint, Tennessee.

Tune in again for more legible (and interesting) missives.

“Good and True and Truthful”, copyright 2021, Alea Henle.

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