A Merry Christmas
To: Esther Ganter From: Albert
23 December 1913
This pretty, heavily embossed Christmas card is in near mint condition. That is amazing since it is 103 years old. Santa is featured, wishing the recipient “A Merry Christmas” in lettering still sharp and clear. Santa isn’t quite as plump as he would become in later years, but is still looking like himself, with clearly defined cheeks, moustache and beard. His red suit is lightly colorized and has likely faded some with time.
The reverse side of the postcard shows just how well the embossed image has stood the test of time. Even from the back side, Santa and his words can easily been recognized.
“Albert” mailed this postcard on 23 December 1910 from Whittier, California to Esther Ganter, who also lived in Whittier.
I decided to try to discover who Esther Ganter was, and, if possible, to identify her friend, Albert.
Esther Minta Ganter was born 23 July 1903 in Pennsylvania, probably in the town of Butler. The family moved to southern California when she was a young girl and apparently first lived in Whittier before moving to South Pasadena. The cities are not far apart and were but small communities in the early 1900s.
Her parents were Alva and Jennie, and, like her, born in Pennsylvania. Alva and Jennie must have married not long after the 1900 census as they reported being married for ten years in 1910.
Sometime before 1910, the Ganter family – Alva, Jennie, Esther and grandmother Sadie Ganter – made the cross-country move. The 1910 census shows Alva as a rancher in Los Nietos, Los Angeles County. Los Nietos is part of West Whittier, so the postal address of Whittier on this postcard doesn’t necessarily mean the family moved between 1910 and 1913.
Esther was probably an only child. The 1910 census shows her parents had been married for ten years, but no entry is made indicating how many children Jennie had had. Sadie, on the other hand, had given birth to six children, with only one, Alva, surviving.
The Ganter family moved from Whittier to South Pasadena between the 1910 census and 1920, when she was a senior at South Pasadena High School.
Esther Minta Ganter, 1920
Esther married Walter S. Ellis on 20 June 1933 in South Pasadena. Walter was 8 years older than Esther and from Sussex, England. She hasn’t been found in the 1940 census and it is unknown whether she had any children. However, Walter S. Ellis, born 1 March 1896, was married and living in Bexhill, Sussex, England in 1939. (Only the index is available, not the image itself.) It may be that Walter and Esther were living in England as World War II began. Walter was listed as an electrical engineer.
Esther Minta Ganter Ellis died on 26 February 1997 in Bloomington, San Bernardino County, California. She outlived Walter by many years. He died on 27 February 1971, also in Bloomington, California.
Who was “Albert,” the sender of the 1913 Christmas postcard? I don’t know exactly, but there are two clues. First, the handwriting on the postcard is that of a young person, probably someone who hadn’t been writing in cursive all that long. Secondly, the postcard was mailed in Whittier, so Albert lived locally and was likely a neighbor and/or classmate.
Assuming that Albert’s family was also in Los Nietos for the 1910 census, there are several possibilities – six, to be exact. However, three of these Alberts were born before 1900 and I think they would be less likely, at the ages of 15 and 16, to be sending a postcard to a ten year old girl.
That leaves three possibilities: (1) Albert D. Graves, born 1902 in California. His family lived on North Bright Avenue (2) Albert W. McDaniel, born 1903 in Missouri. His family lived on Judson Road and (3) Albert Poland, born 1903 in California. His family was on South Greenlaw Avenue.
There were 24 pages of families enumerated in Los Nietos in 1910. Albert Graves lived closest to Esther. Her family was enumerated on page 18 and his on page 20. The other two Alberts lived in other neighborhoods, as Albert Poland’s family was on page 1 and Albert McDaniel’s on page 5.
Magnolia Avenue is still a street in Whittier, but the other two roads are either gone or renamed so today’s maps won’t help.
It isn’t possible to narrow the choices down more than this. If I had to pick one, I’d do with Albert Donovan Graves, who lived closest to the Ganter family. However, it’s not a sure thing that he is the right choice because Esther might have known Albert (whoever) from church or some other social organization.
Although how they became friends or which Albert sent this cute card, it is certain that Esther either thought a lot of Albert or else loved the card for it to survive the remaining 84 years of her lifetime.
I bought this card years ago in California at an antique store. I imagine that, after she died, her estate sold off many of her belongings and this postcard was part of the collection.
Little did Albert and Esther Minta know that 103 years later, the postcard still exists and it’s in excellent condition. I wish I new whether Walter and Esther had any relatives who might like to have the postcard back in the family. For some reason, maybe because they married later in life and traveled to Europe and back several times (found on Ancestry), I am thinking that they had no children.