From 1903 to 1910, Fannie Leonard collected 89 postcards that were mailed to her or that she wrote and mailed to others. I have included all of the cards that were actually signed and/or mailed, which amount to about two-thirds of the collection, in this gallery, plus a handful of others that were sent by Fannie to Eliza Jones Robbins, of Ellendale.
It appears that these inexpensive, sometimes humorous cards were used the same way we would use email or even texting today – a method of quick communication at a time when only a fraction of U. S. homes (3% in 1900, 25% in 1910) had a telephone and mail delivery was frequent. A few of the postcards are written in Fannie’s hand and addressed to others; the majority of the postcards are addressed to her, from her sister-in-law Viva, from various friends and acquaintances, and from at least two, possibly three men with a romantic interest in her. Of the latter, we can only identify Otis D. Joseph by name; the other(s) used nicknames or initials and never fully revealed themselves.
This collection is important in our understanding of Frances Leonard Barnes; it is the only set of personal documents relating to any “people of the windows” that is in the possession of the Milton Historical Society. They hint at a young woman’s promising life, filled with relationships of all kinds, but do not explain how that life took a turn for the worse after her marriage to Arthur Barnes in 1912, a turn from which she never fully recovered.