The Death of Mrs. Esser – Heron Lake, Minnesota (1909)

There is a story of great sadness behind this postcard featuring the drawing of a mischievous kitten.

Tillie was elsewhere in Minnesota when she wrote to Miss Mae Johnson of Heron Lake in April of 1909.

Heron Lake is a city in southwest Minnesota, very close to the border of Iowa.  The city takes its name from the nearby lake where Black-Crowned Night Herons have been observed.

After reporting that she is “fine and dandy”, Tillie remarks that “it is too bad about Mrs. Esser”.

Correcting for Tillie’s lapses in spelling and grammar, we learn that Mrs. Esser had been ill, and then died.

Tillie wondered what would happen to the children, and seems to suggest that Mrs. Esser’s sisters might take responsibility for them.

(This sober message jolts one from any reverie about wishing to live in the past – before antibiotics, inoculations against many diseases, and modern diagnostic tools.)

The face of the postcard is illustrated by a drawing of a playful kitten; there is a barely-distinguishable title of “Mischief”.

The drawing is signed by the artist, “Kenyon” and the date, “07”.

(Although other prints of this postcard are listed for sale on the internet, I cannot find information related to the artist identified both as “Kenton” and “Kenyon”.)

One hopes that the children of Mrs. Esser received love and care, and that Tillie and Mae were able to see one another again.


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