By Doug Hylton
Every town has a remarkable story to tell. Sometimes these stories come from major events that have a huge impact on the creation of the community such as a civil war battle or establishment of a large lumber company. Most time, however, it is the small stories of individual lives that create a community and make the mark that impacts the fabric of a town.
Following the turn of the last century, life in America was much different than it is today. Most recently the Ronceverte Museum was presented with a gift of an album of postcards and picture cards that provide an extraordinary glimpse of early twentieth century America. The album was the property of Sue Ella Miano’s grandmother, Margaret Ellen Gee.
Margaret Ellen Foglesong Gee epitomized a woman of her day. She was the hard working, farm wife of Edward Evereth Gee, who had a devotion to family and an appreciation of the world going on around her. Her album of postcards represents a period from 1905 through 1915 when America was expanding its influence and the society was running at a quick pace. It was a time of Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson, a time of social change and governmental rules and regulations to protect the citizens of the country. A time of growth and progress and a time of different mores that reflected the decades of the early 1900s.
Seen through Ellen’s album are photos depicting events of the time to include the San Francisco earthquake; or community improvements such as photos of a new water treatment plant. Other cards included photos from large skyscrapers from New York and Chicago, and scenic postcards of Florida. Also are found beautiful cards with Seasons greetings from Christmas, Easter, Halloween and birthday wishes, birth announcements, and simply cards of hello. These cards also show changes of the time with Santa in the newfangled automobiles and dancing “Teddy Bears”.
“My grandmother was careful to save each and every card which included birthday cards and special cards sent to my father, Mark Gee, when he was a small boy”, says Sue Ella. “Family was important to my grandmother and each card and photo represents someone special or somewhere important to her.” Sue Ella’s father, Mark Gee, went on to become a postman for the area, perhaps due to his receiving these special cards from family members.
The album is an important part of the Ronceverte Museum as it reflects a Ronceverte family and the influences of everyday events on their everyday lives in a more innocent time. To see this album and find out more about Ronceverte and its rich history, visit the Ronceverte Museum at 218 Edgar Avenue. Hours are Sunday from 1-4 p.m. or call for an appointment to view the museum at 304-646-2880.