Another Photo Mystery Solved! Joseph H. Brasher, Part 2

Yesterday, I shared the life story of Joseph Henry Brasher, who worked in three post offices in the early days of Oklahoma – in the towns of Springer, Tuttle and then Noble. Sometimes, the passage of time, and taking new looks at old items, really does help solve mysteries.

Ruby, my mother-in-law, had written this on the back of a photo:

Back of Old Photo

These pictures are of Joe Brasher at work. The 1910 census of Tuttle, Grady County, Oklahoma and 1920 census of Noble, Cleveland County, Oklahoma both showed that he worked as the town post master.

Now take a look at the front of this and a couple of other photos:

Post Office, 1910-1920

Who is in this photo anyway? That was, and might still be, a mystery, but I think I’ve got it figured out. I’m quite sure that these are the three men who worked in the post office. The calendar on the wall is dated and it is difficult to make out, but I think the last digit in the year is a “2,” and the year is 1912.

I don’t know when Joe moved from Tuttle to Noble, but I think this might be the post office in Tuttle and I might even know who each of these people is. Exactly how would I be able to pull names out of thin air? Well, the 1910 census is a great help. It perhaps has given me the answers because it included the occupations of the adults and Tuttle was a very small place with only 794 souls living there in 1910.

I found only three men whose jobs were related to the post office. First was William H. Cooper, aged 57, and a widower. He worked as a mail carrier. Second was Joseph Henry Brasher, who worked as a postmaster. He was 36 years old in 1910. The third man was William F. Elsner, aged 22, who also worked as a postmaster.

Now, take another look at the three men in the photo. I think the man on the left is William H. Cooper. He is much older than the other two men and easily could be 57 years old. The middle man is also the man who looks to be younger than William and older than the man to the right. That is Joseph Brasher, who would have been about 36 years old. The man on the far right looks way younger than the other two and I believe he is William F. Elsner, aged 22, in 1910 and a newlywed.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this building is standing anymore.

Newly Built Post Office

The new post office was constructed of wood. It looks like William Cooper and Joe Brasher are standing out in front.

Just to be sure that this isn’t the Noble Post Office in 1920, I checked that census for postal workers and again found three. Joe Brasher is listed as the actual postmaster, Florence Noyes, aged 39, is a clerk and W.E. Morris, aged 36, is the mail carrier. They definitely don’t fit the photos above!

I can narrow down this photo just a bit more to pre-1915, as Joe’s daughter, Pearl, came to live with him and his second family and she was a graduating member of the Class of 1916.

The Tuttle Post Office was established in 1902, but Joe Brasher was living in Carter County, Oklahoma in 1904 when he married Della Benton so this picture can’t be any earlier than 1904. He was in Noble by the fall of 1915, when Pearl attended school there.

Where might I find more information that might tell me exactly when he moved from place to place? A city directory, possibly, if there was one in Tuttle or Noble in those very early days. There is a better source linked to his job as postmaster – that was an appointed U.S. government position and Ancestry has the records in one of its databases, U.S., Appointments of U.S. Postmasters, 1832-1971.

Joseph Brasher, Entry #9, Springer Post Office Appt.
Source: Ancestry

A surprise was that Joseph H. Brasher was appointed postmaster of Springer, Carter County, Oklahoma on 26 September 1903. The postmaster who followed him in Springer was appointed on 22 October 1909, so I believe he was a new arrival in Tuttle, not long before the 1910 census was taken. He wasn’t the actual postmaster in Tuttle, just an assistant, as there is no appointment in the records for him there. When did he move on to Noble? Well, he was appointed as the Noble postmaster on 3 September 1914, so he likely moved there by the summer of 1914.

I mentioned a surprise at the beginning of yesterday’s post. Come back tomorrow and I will share it with you. 🙂

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