genealogy of the Bird and Musgrove families
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The poem and the Spinster

Take this card as a token,
nevertheless true because unspoken,
From my heart I wish to say,
Could we meet on Saturday ?

What would your reaction be if a complete stranger contacted you and said they had found a postcard with a romantic poem sent to their grandmother by an admirer ?  Well, I purchased this postcard off e-bay and am trying to find out as much as I can about the recipient and the sender.  My daughter thinks I'm a genealogical stalker !  


I believe the card was sent to Jessie Harris, who was just 16 years and ten months old, living in Fore Street in the small village of Pool in the far south west of Cornwall.  She had been born in Dalton, Lancashire so was a northern lass. 


I originally thought I had discovered Jessie marrying in 1914 and having a number of children.  I found a living relative and contacted them but unfortunately this was a different Jessie Harris who was a servant girl living in Truro in 1911 rather than 10 miles away in Pool.  Not only did I not find her marrying, but I am afraid to say I am pretty sure she died a spinster aged 84.  According to a tree on Ancestry, Jessie and her sister Ada are buried in same plot at St Stephens Parish Church, Treleigh, Scorrier with Ada’s husband, William John Thomas.  Maybe she never found the love of her life ?


I then tried to discover who "R.F.J" was who sent the card.  The postcard was sent in September 1905.  Was the sender older or younger than the recipient ?  My guess is that he was younger or he would have perhaps approached Jessie face to face rather than taking what must have been an unusual approach of asking her out ‘by post’.  Jessie was born in 1888, so my guess is the sender was born after this.  Assuming the sender was living in Cornwall, I have searched the 1901 and 1911 censuses and there is only one possible “R.F.J” but he was only 12 when the card was sent, so is probably too young to be our man.  Of course the sender may have been visiting Cornwall or been down there temporarily.  However extending the search country wide is like looking for a needle in a haystack. 


Perhaps Jessie and he met on that Saturday evening and had a dalliance, but then again, perhaps his love was unrequited.  We will probably never know.  


In order to bring everything together, I tried to find a living relative of Jessie's sister, Ada Harris. I sent messages to two individuals on Genes Reunited who are also listing their father, Frederick Harris who was born in St Erth in 1863 but, so far, have not had any response. 



Postcard set to an RSO address


An RSO address means it was posted using the "Railway Sub Office" system whereby local correspondence could avoid going to the main sorting office and taking longer to be delivered.  Carn Brae was a railway sub office and could deliver its own mail.  


RSOs ceased to exist, officially, on 1 August 1905, just before this postcard was franked.  By 1905 there was a properly surfaced road system in place with mechanised road-going vehicles and, hence, it wasn't as necessary to use all the old methods to speed the mail. However, the basic system continued for many years and postmarks including RSO were apparently still in use as late as 1944.




Visit St Stephens Parish Church, Treleigh near Redruth TR16 4AY. 

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