Some Christmas Postcards from Years Past

My grandfather, Cornelius Schumm, had a scrapbook filled with postcards he received and collected when he was a young man in the early part of the twentieth century.

I am not sure how I ended up with the scrapbook but I am glad to have it. I like old postcards and have a modest collection myself.

There are a few Christmas postcards in the collection. Most of the Christmas cards were sent to him but there are a couple that were sent to his mother, Sarah (Breuninger) Schumm, to his sister Frieda, and one to my grandmother HIlda (Scaer) Schumm. A few cards have no stamp, postmark, or writing on the back. Maybe someone gave him the card in person or perhaps they were leftover cards that he did not send.

This is the oldest postcard in the group, dated 22 December 1909.  The sender did not sign the card. I wonder who it was from?

To Cornelius Schumm, 1909.

To Cornelius Schumm, 1909.

To Cornelius Schumm, TT 2, Willshire, Ohio. 1909.

To Cornelius Schumm, RR 2, Willshire, Ohio. 1909.

The following postcard was sent to my grandfather from Carl S. in 1919. “Ft. Wayne Ind, 12-22-19. Old Scout: How are you? Am all well & happy. Will see you Wed. night at church. Best wishes & a Merry Xmas. From Carl S.”

From Carl S, Fort Wayne, 1919.

From Carl S, Fort Wayne, 1919.

The date is unreadable on the next postcard from Cornelius’ cousin Lizzy, postmarked Prairie ___, Wisconsin. “It is very cold here, think we will have snow for Christmas if it don’t all melt. Will close. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Lizzy.”

From Cornelius' cousin Lizzy.

From Cornelius’ cousin Lizzy, unknown date.

The postcard below was sent to Frieda Schumm, from M.K. Frieda was Cornelius’ sister. “Best Wishes for Christmas and a better one than you had last year. MK.” M.K. may be M. Koehler, who sent several postcards to my grandfather and his mother:

To Frieda Schumm from M.K., undated.

To Frieda Schumm from M.K., undated.

Cornelius married Hilda Scaer in 1927. Before their marriage Hilda worked as a housekeeper for the John Perry Reed family in Van Wert. John P. Reed was married to Estella Brumback, [1] daughter of John Sanford Brumback. John Brumback was a Van Wert banker and businessman who left a sizable bequest to Van Wert County to establish a county library. The Brumback Library in Van Wert was built with this money in 1899 and is the oldest county library in the United States. [2] [3]

The Reeds sent my grandmother the postcard below from Venice during the Christmas of 1925. John P. Reed died in 1920, so the postcard was probably written by his widow Estella or their daughter Ellen. Written on the back, to Miss Hilda Scaer: “Venice, Italy, 6 December 1925. The Reeds wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

To Hilda Scaer from "The Reeds" in Venice, Italy, 6 December 1925.

To Hilda Scaer from “The Reeds” in Venice, Italy, 6 December 1925.

Back of postcard from Venice, 1925.

Back of postcard from Venice, 1925.

Below is a postcard sent to Mrs. Louis Schumm, Willshire, Cornelius’ mother. Postmarked Cleveland, the date is unreadable: “Dear Aunt Sarah, Received your letters, both of them, and thank you very much. Yes, everything is very high, and some things you can hardly get, even for much money. I guess pretty soon we will have to stop eating, drinking and all else. Regards to Uncle Cornl, Frieda.  Tony Schumm.[4]

To Mrs. Louis Schumm from her nephew Tony Schumm, date unreadable.

To Mrs. Louis Schumm from her nephew Tony Schumm, date unreadable.

The final Christmas postcard was sent to Mrs. Sarah Schumm (Cornelius’ mother) from M. Koehler, postmarked Van Wert, 22 December 1919. “A Happy Christmas. My New Year wish to you all. We are all well and I hope you’re the same. We will have our program by the Sunday School on Christmas day at 4:00 p.m. I wish that your kin see it. Will be a good program. They don’t have it [?] Best regards to all. Write or come. M. Koehler.” [5]

To Mrs. Sarah Schumm from M. Koehler, 1919.

To Mrs. Sarah Schumm from M. Koehler, 1919.

[1] “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 5 December 2013), John P. Reed Jr and Estella or Estelle BRumback, 26 October 1886; citing Van Wert, Ohio, United States, reference v7p 102; FHL microfilm 1015861.

[2] “The Brumback Library,” Remarkable Ohio, Marking Ohio’s History, The Ohio Historical Society ( : accessed 5 December 2013).

[3] “Brumback Library,” Discover Ohio, Ohio Development Services Agency, Office of TourismOhio  ( : accessed 5 December 2013).

[4] Tony Schumm was Anton Gerhard Schumm (1878-1938), son of Rev. George M. and Charlotte (Breuninger) Schumm. Charlotte (1855-1905) and Sarah (Breuninger) Schumm (1861-1921) were sisters.

[5] M. Koehler was probably Mary A. (Breuninger) Koehler (1858-1930), sister of Sarah (Breuninger) Schumm. Mary Breuninger was married to Oscar Koehler and they lived in Van Wert.




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  1. Wow! It cost a whole penny to send a postcard back then! A pretty dramatic statement about the inflation over the last 100 years in just the cost of a stamp. Even when we were kids, the cost was still only pennies, maybe 3 cents (although I think that may have been a first class letter). So the first 50 years inflation was nearly nothing, but the last 50 has been exponential increase with another coming with the new year, they say.

    1. I wonder if Christmas postcards were the norm back then or if cards in an envelope were also sent. Maybe someone knows??

  2. According to the history of Christmas cards (online search) they were developed in England in 1843 with only a few thousand being sold. While these were folded cards sent in an envelope (or hand delivered), the market for them was quickly overshadowed by simple post card type Christmas cards and the envelope type did not return to common use until after 1920.

    While very few folks use post cards today, up through the mid-1900s, they were not only common, but perhaps the preferred means of snail mail communication. Note that every filling station, tourist trap, etc. had a rack of post cards for easy access to send back home. Even hotels and motels included them in their stationary resources. Today we may buy them for the pictures, but back then they were usually a way to let folks at home know where we were, all was well and just keep touch. Think of them as the short, quick “text” message of the pre-internet days. Any family chest of old communications and family photos probably contains many cards with there very low cost both as stationary and to mail.

    1. Thanks for the interesting information. Sounds like Christmas postcards were the norm for the early 1900s.

  3. On the farm we seldom made the trip to town or the post office, but a quick note and a few pennies in the mailbox would result in the mailman providing stamps, stamped envelopes or post cards. Often they would be left the same day as the note was placed in the box, but if the supply in the car was low, they would be delivered with the mail the next day. Roland Marbaugh was our mailman for many years and often made special efforts to be helpful.

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