“A Square of Huckaback Toweling” – Gouverneur, NY (1910)

Before finding this postcard, I was ignorant of the “Huckaback” weave of cloth.


“Huckaback fabric or Huck is a type of toweling cloth with a bird’s eye or honeycomb pattern. It is a loosely woven fabric made of cotton or linen with Huckaback weave.”

Miss Vanche Noble was visiting Gouverneur, a town near the St. Lawrence River in northern New York.

In the 19th century, it was a center for mining of marble, zinc, and talc.

Today, the town is less than half the size that it was in 1910.

From the address, it appears that Vanche was staying in the household of Mrs. Eliza Freeman.


In October of 1910, Vanche received a postcard from Mary.

Mary wrote from Edwards, a hamlet about ten miles east of Gouverneur.


The face of the postcard is a drawing of lilies, and a quotation, “Love is better than Fame”.

The author of the motto is given as Bayard Taylor.

For those who have not specialized in 19th century American poetry, the name is probably unfamiliar.

Here is the Wiki summary:

“ Bayard Taylor (January 11, 1825 – December 19, 1878) was an American poet, literary critic, translator, travel author, and diplomat.

As a poet, he was very popular, with a crowd of more than 4,000 attending a poetry reading once, which was a record that stood for 85 years.

His travelogues were popular in both the United States and Great Britain.

He served in diplomatic posts in Russia and Prussia.”

(Interestingly, Taylor was born into a Quaker family in Chester County, PA.)


On the reverse, Mary writes:

“When you come home, bring me a square of Huckenback (sic) toweling with those threads quite big.”

The reference to “coming home” might indicate that Vanche was spending time (perhaps working) in the much larger town of Gouverneur.

Mary reports that “ I am going up to Aunt Carrie’s tomorrow night if it doesn’t rain.”

There is a mysterious note in closing, “Mother has cleaned the dark room today.”

Apart from the operation of a photography studio, I do not know what the “dark room” might mean.

Although one is always hopeful that the figures in our postcard stories were happy and successful, this is not true of Vanche.

Vanche Ammie Noble graduated from the Normal School in Potsdam,New York in 1914.

Apparently, Vanche planned a career in teaching.

Unfortunately, an on-line genealogy site notes the following:

Vanche A. Noble

Born 1894 in St. Lawrence, New York, United States


Daughter of Frank Noble and Addie E. (Buck) Noble

Sister of Mary L. (Noble) Harmon, Henry R. Noble and Harry E. Noble

[spouse(s) unknown]

[children unknown]

Died 1917 at about age 23 [location unknown]

Vanche was 16 when she received the postcard, and she died seven years later.


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