March 20, 2012

1853 - 1859 Calling cards for Emily Dawson Edmundson

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These kind of days make all the work of being president of the Soapy Smith Preservation Trust worthwhile.

I received an email from family member, Kyle Rosene, and the first thing he writes is, "Are you sitting down?" I knew I was in for a treat. Kyle's great grandmother was Eva Katherine Smith, Soapy Smith's sister, which makes Kyle a great-grandnephew of Soapy. Kyle is the family member who let me use a number of fantastic photographs of Soapy for the book Alias Soapy Smith. Some of those photographs show Soapy's parents, Jefferson Randolph Smith Sr., and Emily Dawson Edmundson, the latter being today's topic.

Here's what Kyle had to say.

Are you sitting down? I have another discovering in my mother's things. I was looking in a briefcase which contained a old coin collection. Much to my surprise was a old card holder with two old cards inside. One for Mrs. J.R. Smith and the other for Miss Emilie D. Edmundson. I will send you several emails with pictures of the find.

Kyle Rosene 

It took a few seconds to realize what I was looking at, two of Emily's calling cards, one before marriage and one after. Not only did Kyle find the cards, but the original box as well!

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Visiting cards, or calling cards, were an essential accessory to any 19th Century middle class lady or gentleman. They served as tangible evidence of meeting social obligations, as well as a streamlined letter of introduction. They also served as an aid to memories that were no stronger than they are today. The stack of cards in the card tray in the hall was a handy catalog of exactly who had called and whose calls might need to be returned. They did smack of pretentiousness however, and were not generally used among country folk or working class Americans. (source: Introduction to 19th Century Etiquette [pdf]. Center for History).

The photograph at the top of this post is Emily's premarital calling card. I am guessing that she obtained her first calling cards in 1853 at age 16, and immediately updated them upon her marriage to Jefferson in 1859.

Are you one of the hardcore family historians who noted the discrepancy of her name? Don't feel bad if you didn't catch it, I didn't either until Kyle brought it to my attention. The card reads "Emilie" but the family history (that I have at least) reads "Emily." Upon making a quick search I realized I don't have any hard evidence as to the correct spelling of her name. I have no copies of letters from family, no records except for the 1870 Federal census which lists her as "Emily" but most genealogists will warn us not to depend wholly on census records for numerous reasons. So, was this a printers error or have the family genealogists been wrong in spelling her name?

Does anyone in the family know? Are there letters, a death certificate, etc.? It'd sure be nice to know. 

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Emily Dawson Edmundson
May 29, 2010
April 8, 2010
April 7, 2010

Emily Dawson Edmundson: pages 22, 27.

March 20
1893: As a side occupation, Soapy presides over the gambling room at the Ingersoll Club. It is not known how much, if any, control he had over the business.


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