For this Then and Now post, I have a postcard of the Gates Memorial Library in White River Junction, Vermont. White River Junction is a village of Hartford, Vermont. It was the first and largest train center in New England north of Boston. About 2,200 people live in White River Junction today.
Throughout the mid-1800s and early 1900s, several of my Quebecois ancestors pass through or settle in White River Junction or the surrounding villages of Hartford, like Quechee. I visited last summer and it has a nice downtown area, which is now listed as a National Historic District. I didn’t get to explore too much, but I had a pretty good meal at Elixir, which is in an old freight house, if you’re ever in the area!
Then, in 1916
The postcard was mailed April 11, 1916 to a Mrs. William M. Stone in Francestown, NH. The card reads, “Dear Grace, Just a line to let you know you are not forgotten, neither is the good time we had with you that summer. Well how is it with me truely your own (?). Hope all are well. Will write you soon and let you know what we are about. We are setting 156 hours (?) in a day or two. Lots of love to you and yours. -Cousin Bertha”
Okay, so I know that some of that message doesn’t make any sense. Usually I’m pretty good at reading old handwriting, but I don’t know if I just really misunderstood a couple of parts in the message, or if the author had an interesting way of writing. I’m certain I transcribed everything correctly except for the couple of spots with question marks, but on the whole, it’s a bit of a confusing note. But, I’m also battling a cold and not thinking clearly!
I had a very hard time finding information on this library, and it turns out that it’s because the building is now a health clinic! I had to do a bit of digging, but on the town of Hartford’s website, I found a historic district walking tour brochure that mentioned the library. The library was the village’s first formal library. Prior to this, there were library rooms in a schoolhouse, a factory, and the railroad freight depot! It was named after George W. Gates, a prominent figure in White River Junction. The library unfortunately closed in 2000 due to funding issues. White River Junction doesn’t have any library now, but nearby towns and villages do.
The building now houses the Good Neighbor Health Clinic, which offers free medical and dental care to those in need. Although the building no longer houses a library, I’m pleased that it still holds an organization that serves the community.
I am on the lookout for more vintage library postcards (that are a reasonable price). I’m still trying to focus on libraries in places related to my family somehow to help narrow down the search. But, I will probably start to pick up other postcards that feature pretty library buildings from other places as well. I’m also trying to find postcards of libraries from Hawaii, where my mom is from, but so far am only finding the same one over and over. It’s not that interesting a postcard to me, but I may give in and get it anyway.