The card, with its beautiful image of the Eiffel Tower, was written by Theodore Hamilton in Paris to his brother, George S. Hamilton, in Buffalo, NY, on June 28, 1911.
My dear Brother:
I send you this card from the summit of the Eiffel Tower at Paris, nearly 1000 feet in height. One enjoys here a magnificent and marvelous view over the city and its environs. The River Seine and all the famous buildings, parks and gardens appear spread out, far below. I leave today for Orleans and Touro; then to Bordeaux and on to Madrid.
With love and best wishes,
|Postcard from Paris, June 1911.|
Courtesy: The History Reporter
|University professor Theodore Hamilton sent this postcard, dated June 28, 1911,|
to his brother, George, a department store salesman in Buffalo, NY.
Courtesy: The History Reporter
I've had this postcard for a while and decided to try and find out more about Theodore Hamilton. And did I find out more! I'm still amazed at how much I learned about this man and his family -- I even came across a photo of Theodore. Now I had a face to go with the name of the man who wrote this postcard over 100 years ago. Incredible.
So, who was Theodore Hamilton?
A search on ancestry.com led to the discovery that Theodore graduated from Harvard University in 1899. Census records shows that he and his brother, George, were living with their widowed mother and an older sister in Chautauqua, NY, in 1900. Theodore, 31, worked as a teacher, while George, 38, was a dry goods salesman. Both men were single.
In 1904, Theodore applied for a U.S. passport. The application stated that he lived in Urbana, IL, and was a university instructor -- most likely at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was 5 feet 10 inches tall with brown hair and brown eyes.
By 1910, a year before his trip to Paris, census records show that Theodore, 35, was living in Columbus, OH, and lodging in a house with Sarah Armstrong, her daughter, Edna, and another lodger. His 1911 passport application stated that he was an assistant professor at Ohio State University.
Meanwhile, during that same time, George was living in Buffalo, NY, where he was a salesman in a department store. He roomed with the Peterson family along with a few other lodgers at 320 Hudson Street, the address to which Theodore's postcard from Paris was sent.
|I still can't believe I found a picture of Thomas.|
This is his 1923 U.S. passport application photo.
He was 54 years old. Source: Ancestry.com
Theodore continued to travel abroad for many years to come.
His passport application from 1923 states that Theodore was a professor at Columbus University and that he was embarking on a trip to visit several countries including England, France, Italy, Spain, Scotland, Belgium and Switzerland. It also stated that his earlier passport was destroyed in 1911 -- leaving me to wonder what happened to it.
Remarkably, this passport application included a photo of Theodore who was 54-years-old.
The last record I can find to include Theodore is a ship manifest from September 1923. He was a returning to the United States from Southampton, England.
After that year, he seemingly disappears.
Oh, but that summer of 1911 in Paris must have been something to experience.
In Nancy Duvall Hargrove's book, T.S. Eliot's Parisian Year (1910-1911), published in 2009, it's noted that "Eliot described Paris as a combination of past and present" and that Paris "was recognized for accommodating developing new movements," all the while maintaining its ties to the past with presentations of classical dramas, music, opera and dance.
According to Hargrove, Paris had an enormous effect on Eliot.
"His visit to Paris had a significant influence on his mind, soul, heart, and imagination," she wrote, "and he was even recognized as a Francophile."
I wonder if the City of Lights had the same effect on Theodore.
World War I was still years away and the world was changing fast during that second decade of the twentieth century.
Perhaps Theodore was vacationing or chaperoning students on a European tour that summer.
Whatever the case, we certainly can ascertain that he loved to travel and was fortunate enough to do so at least three times within a nearly twenty year period.