Thursday, May 17, 2012

Postcard #2- St. Patrick's Day

About a month ago, I bought this postcard from an antique store. It was around Easter and the stack of St. Patrick's Day cards was dwindling down to about two or three and I was lucky to find this one.

St. Patrick's Day

Dear Cliff: One year of
my sentence is up. Only
two more years in prison,
then freedom. What are
you doing? I am still
on that case. he is getting
along fine. is going to
sitr [sic] life this week. I was
up and called on Miss
Smith yesterday. She
is going down home tomorrow.
How is the traveling out
to Bar Mills? You never
write to me. Will write Ma this
week some time.
With love

Of course that caught my attention. She's in prison?! With two more years left of her sentence?! What did she do? How did she go visit Miss. Smith if she's in prison? What case is she working on? The questions never ended!

So the logical plan of action was to find records of her and her brother. I knew one of their full names, I had a city and a state, and a rough date (all the postcards on the rack were from around 1910).

On to the census records!!!

Well, my search hit a pretty big snag in the beginning: I could find no record of a Mr. Clifford E. Jose living in Buxton, Maine. I searched his name every which way I could think of to spell it and still no luck.

My conclusion? They were spies, of course!

"Sis" wasn't really Clifford's sister and the postcard was all in code. She wasn't in jail, it was code for her location, and her two years left in her "sentence" was how long her mission would last. My theory explained her case and the reason that she could go out to visit Miss. Smith while seemingly incarcerated.

It accounted for everything!

Well, I knew that my theory was too far-fetched to let stand, so about a week later, I decided to go back and search for them again in census records.

I discovered that just searching for people with the last name of "Jose" in Maine brought up a list of family members, one of which included a Mr. Clifford E. Jose (who's first name was unable to be searched for some reason).

Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you the real Clifford and Lena Jose:

They lived in Buxton, Maine all their lives. Their parents were John and Mary and they had two brothers, Charles and Horace.

1900 Census - Clifford is 16 years old and working as a farm laborer. Lena is 10 and attends school. John, Mary, Charles, and Horace all live at home as well as a 14 year old boarder named Matthew Pearson who attends school as well.

1910 Census - Clifford (26) and Lena (20) still live at home with their parents. Cliff works in the pulpmill and Lena has no job. Both of their brothers are married and work as carpenters.

1920 Census - Cliff and Lena still live at home. Clifford (36) has joined the ranks of his brothers as a carpenter and Lena (29) is working as a nurse at a hospital.

1930 Census - Clifford (46) is now the head of the household. He works as a carpenter and lives with his mom and Lena (40) who is a registered nurse.

1940 Census - Lena (50) is now listed as the head of the household. Both of her parents are dead and she lives with Clifford (56) who is a carpenter who works on building construction.

Decidedly less exciting than if they really had been spies, but interesting nonetheless. Neither one ever married and, from what I can tell, they lived together always. There was never any mention of Lena being in jail, so I still have no clue what to make of that.

Ah well. Perhaps I'll figure it out one day.