“Don’t Tell Rachel” – Shreve, Ohio (1909)

Mr. Elmer Ohl lived in Pavonia, a populated place in central Ohio – between the city of Mansfield and the town of Ashland.


In February of 1909, Elmer received a Valentine postcard from Miss Carol.

The postcard was mailed from Shreve, a village about 30 miles southeast of Pavonia.


The face of the postcard is a lovely drawing of a young woman waiting by a placid stream.

In the distance, a young man seems to be steering a craft in her direction.

A pair of Swans, symbols of faithfulness, glide on the water.


On the reverse, a brief message is inscribed – “Please don’t tell Rachel I sent you a card…”

I found this postcard several years ago in a cluttered antique shop in Mansfield, Ohio.

An enormous stack of postcards collected by Mr. Ohl were offered for sale.

It seems that Elmer conducted a lively correspondence with many people during the early years of the 20th century.

We don’t know the reason for the requested secrecy – perhaps Rachel had set her sights on Elmer and did not want competition.

It may be that Rachel was a terrible gossip or busybody, or perhaps Miss Carol had told Rachel that she was interested in another young man.

In any event, this pretty postcard excites curiosity even after a century has passed.

One hopes that Elmer, Miss Carol, and Rachel each enjoyed a happy Valentine’s Day.


Elmer E. Ohl was born in Ashland, Ohio in 1879.

He was the son of George Ohl and Anna Elizabeth Reed.

He married Lillian Elizabeth Harlan (1883 – 1963)

(So, neither Miss Carol, nor Rachel, married Elmer.)

Elmer and Lillian had 4 children; the first born in 1914.

It seems that Elmer married relatively “late”, as he was 30 years old when exchanging Valentine’s in 1909.

Elmer died in 1954, at age 74.


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