A Piece Of History From 1885



Recently I came across a postcard sent from Payson in 1885. This is quite a find.

A lot of things were different in Payson back then. The rodeo had just begun a year earlier, and our county seat was in Prescott, not Globe -- it wouldn't be until 1889 when we would become part of Gila County.


This postcard was mailed from Payson in 1885, while it was still a part of Yavapai County.

The Pleasant Valley War was still a couple years away from its peak, and the occasional Indian raid was still a possibility. In other words, Payson was a far different place then than it is now.

Unfortunately, this postcard doesn't shed a whole lot of light on Payson. But it does provide a feel for the times. It was written by Margie Blake to Emma Gilliam in Visalia, Calif.

Visalia is a place with Payson ties. The Houston name you see all around? It goes back to Visalia. The famous Arizona Charlie Meadows? Once again, it's a Visalia connection. You see, the trend of Californians coming here is not a new one.

With regards to the names involved, I haven't been able to find a whole lot of information. The name Blake should be recognizable to some. Mark Blake homesteaded in Tonto Basin, his mother a Harer. However, I can't firmly tie this Margie Blake to these Blakes. I suspect that she was related somehow, perhaps an aunt of Mark's, because she does mention Mark's father Andrew in her note.

What I do know about Margie is that she was born in 1857 in California and grew up in Tulare County, where Visalia is located. Her father was Thomas M. Blake, born in Florida, and her mother was Mary Ann Blake, born in Ireland. By the time she visited Arizona in 1885, she was 28 years old. Now let's get to the note.

My dear Emma,

I reached here a few days ago and felt rather tired out after my long ride over a very rough mountain road. The weather is quite cold and I have put on winter clothes again, I wore lawns for two weeks before leaving Tempe. You know how I always dreaded warm weather and can imagine how glad I am to summer in a cool climate. The water here ice cold. Fannie and the babies are well, both the little ones are strong and good looking infants. I am very sorry for Andrew - he feels his loss [illegible]. I hope you will write some. Mail comes here once a week on Wednesday evening. Registered mail goes by Globe District via Verde where you write.

Very Truly as ever,

Margie Blake

Payson Yavapai Co., A.T.

April 25th/1885

One of the things that troubled me in this note is the term "lawns." So naturally, I Googled it and found the following definition in Wikipedia. "Lawn cloth or lawn is a plain weave textile, originally linen but now chiefly cotton. Lawn is designed using fine, high count yarns, which results in a silky feel. The fabric is made using either combed or carded yarns." From the sounds of it, the texture would've felt cooler, thus being useful in the Valley.

Further down we have the mention of Fannie, who I don't recognize, and then Andrew. As I had previously noted, the mention of this Andrew makes me believe that she's referencing Andrew Blake, the father of Mark Blake. According to Rim Country History, Mark Blake was born in November 1884, and thus would've been one of the babies that Margie references. While we cannot be 100 percent sure of this match, it surely is a possibility. And remember, Andrew Blake was from Tulare County as well, further increasing the odds of a match.

If anyone has any further light to shed on these names, I'd be much obliged for the information. It's a fascinating little piece to me and I'd love to find out more related to it.

Side Notes

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting the great-granddaughters of Sampson Elam Boles. They were in Arizona to visit their mother, Barbara Jean, whose father was Eddie Boles. They came up to Payson, visited Rim Country Museum, and then came out to Tonto Village, at which time I took them out to the old homestead. It's always a pleasure to meet with descendants of those that you research, especially ones that you've corresponded with via e-mail through the years. After all, it is the people who have helped make this area so great through the years.

I just talked to someone at the Arizona State Archives in Phoenix and they told me that their new facility, the Polly Rosenbaum Archives and History Building, is not quite yet finished. They had expected to begin moving earlier this month, but at present time the move has been delayed until September. I will keep you posted as far as a grand opening date. This new state-of-the-art building will be a great step forward in the preservation of Arizona artifacts and will be welcomed by researchers around the state.

The dates of the 50th annual Arizona History Convention have been released. It'll be held April 23-26, 2009 in Prescott at the Hassayampa Hotel. The convention brings together some of the best historians that the state has to offer, and features some terrific presentations on Arizona history. Further details about events surrounding the convention are slated to be released in February 2009.

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