It’s getting more difficult to find reasonably priced vintage photos to return to family descendants, so I’ve started to look at vintage postcards with handwritten messages.
I happened to be browsing Passaic (New Jersey) items online and came across a postcard that piqued my interest for two reasons:
1. The message written in 1910 was from someone who identified himself as a nephew to an unmarried aunt, Hattie Wenz. That really cuts down on the amount of research needed to identify people!
2. The postcard was mailed on 18 November 1910 from Passaic, which was just a week after my grandmother returned permanently to New Jersey from Ujak, Slovakia. Nana wouldn’t have known the Maitland family, but it was still fun to find the Passaic and date connections.
William appears to be a young boy, based on his cursive, which is beautiful, but has the look of a child’s writing.
As 1910 was a census year, it was very easy to find this family.
Robert Laurie Maitland was born in April 1870 in Scotland. he emigrated to American in 1891 and married Matilda Eleanor Wenz on 28 June 1894.
At the time of the 1900 census, the Maitlands were living in Saddle River, Bergen, New Jersey with infant William having been born in October 1899.
Robert was employed in the print works, while Matilda was at home with William.
By 1910, the family had moved to Garfield, Bergen, New Jersey and Robert worked in the rubber works industry, most likely U.S. Rubber Works, which was located in Passaic. Garfield actually borders Passaic, so Robert had a quick commute to work.
William’s brother, Robert Laurie Jr. joined the family on 16 September 1902. On Robert Jr.’s WWII draft registration card, he reported that he was employed at U.S. Rubber Works, which is what makes me believe that his father probably also worked for the company.
What of Matilda’s family? Matilda was born in March 1868 in New York, the daughter of German immigrants Philip Wenz and Theresa Rose Thiessen, who were living in Passaic by 1880.
Philip Henry Wenz was born in 1833 and died on 12 January 1907 in Dedham, Norfolk, Massachusetts. Theresa was born in 1838 and died on 27 July 1922 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts.
Sometime between 1880 and 1900, the Wenz family made the move from New Jersey to Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts.
They were the parents of seven children, with six living in 1900. One of those children was daughter Henrietta Josephine Wenz, born 14 December 1878, reportedly in Passaic and died 15 June 1943 in Worcester, Worcester, Massachusetts.
Henrietta would be William Maitland’s “Aunt Hattie” and the “Miss H.J. Wenz” to whom this postcard was addressed.
William Maitland died in 1984 in New Castle, Delaware. He married c1925 (1) Catherine Stienstra, born in the Netherlands, but they divorced in the 1930s and he married (2) Gladys Rash Ponsell in 1939.
William and Catherine were the parents of one son, Howard William Maitland, who died several years ago.
Howard married and has descendants today. This cute Thanksgiving postcard is going home, appropriately as a Thanksgiving surprise, to one of his descendants.