Saturday, January 19, 2013

Identifying William

When I first saw these postcards in my grandmother's boxes, I didn't scan them in, as there wasn't much on them, and what was there wasn't very legible. But going through the collection of letters and postcards recently to see if I had missed anything, I saw them, and realized I didn't know for certain who they were from.

They're birthday cards sent to my great grandmother, Margaret Jane (Denyer) Vanevery. I know this primarily because I can read the postmark date, I know her date of birth, and I can read "many happy returns." One is signed "Wm" and the other "Bro Wm." Neither Margaret nor her husband, Melvin, had a brother with the given name, William. Margaret did have an uncle, William. William Sliver Denyer was born in 1834, and it's possible he was still alive in 1914 or 1917. However, he'd sign the card Uncle William, wouldn't he?

You may have noticed that I said neither Margaret nor Melvin had a brother with the given name, William. I said nothing about middle names. She had one brother, Samuel William Denyer, and one half-brother, George William Foster, Jr.

When her brother testified in front of The Dawes Commission in 1900 he identified himself only by his first name. However, the Dawes packet does make reference to him by his initials, SW Denyer, in a few places. And the packet contains a letter he wrote to the Commission.

I believe the handwriting matches.

So, while the postcards themselves don't have a lot of information on them, they do tell me that Samuel Denyer at least on occasion referred to himself by his middle name.

The 1914 postcard also indicates my great grandmother was living in Berclair, TX in September of 1914. This doesn't come as a surprise, as my great grandfather opened a cheese manufactory in Berclair in November of 1914. However, I believe they kept their farm in the San Marcos/Maxwell area until they moved to El Paso in 1917.

In the collection of postcards my great grandmother saved, there are several from her husband's siblings. However, there are none from her half-siblings. There is no evidence that they kept in touch. There is, of course, also no evidence that they didn't.

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