Blog reader Gerry Haynaly has found five encrypted postcards that were mailed between two lovers in 1911. Here are all these cards, including the plaintexts and some interesting background information.
Two weeks ago, I blogged about two encrypted postcards from Canada, written by a certain Arthur Gates (nicknamed Jack) to his lover Dolly Gray. Both lived in the Canadian state of Nova Scotia. As usual, my readers immediately solved these cryptograms.
Blog reader Gerry Haynaly from Austria …
… conducted some additional research and found three more postcards sent between Arthur and Dolly. This has led to a nice series of five encrypted love messages. Gerry thankfully provided me scans of the cards and shared his codebreaking work.
Card #1 (Dolly to Arthur, January 2, 1911)
The first card has already been covered on this blog. It was written by Dolly on New Year’s Eve 1910 and sent a few day later.
Armin Krauß derived the following plaintext:
MY DARLING: ACK YR. LOVELY CARD
REC’D 2DAY + WAS SO GLAD 2 HEAR F
ROM YOU MY DEAR. I SENT YOU A LETTER
2 TRURO MONDAY AS I DID’NT
GET YOUR LETTER UNTIL MOND
AY ALSO YR. CARD. YR. LETTER WAS
MISSENT 2 (UY.CLARENCE.) I AM ALL
OVER MY COLD. IT IS QUITE CO
LD HERE 2NIGHT. HOW BUSY YOU
HAVE BEEN EXPECT YOU WILL SOON
B GOING HOME. I HAV’NT HEARD
ANY ONE SAY ANY THING ABOUT
US) MRS. WM. GATES IS VISITING
US. SHE CAME 2DAY FROM BOST
ON. I HAVE TRIED 2 GET YR. TIE
DONE THIS WK. HAV’NT IT
QUITE DONE AS I HAVE BEEN
SO BUSY. FATHER HAS’NT
USED HIS LAMPS YET. HOW
I WISH I COULD “C” YOU 2NIGHT. KEEP LITTLE
BOX UNTIL YOU COME. THERE IS NO NEWS
2 WRITE MOTHER SENDS HER LOVE + YOU KNOW
YOUR. LITTLE GIRL ALWAS DOES. I SEND YOU LOTS + L
OTS. + SOME OTHER THINGS FROM YOUR OWN DOLLY
Gerry’s detective work
Gerry not only found and deciphered the aforementioned postcards, but also performed some backgroung research. Here’s his report:
We know now, that Dolly is Dolly Gray from Upper Clements, Annapolis. And she sees herself here as a poor nut in the town of Digby, and not in Wolfville, which is 141 kilometers away.
And Jack is Arthur W(illard) Gates. And unfortunately Arthur W. Gates married another woman – Edna Maria Williams – in 1913.
But some aspects of the postcards fired my suspicions. On one Dolly wrote her signature “Dolly” and on one as (Dolly), as if it was not her real first name. Neither on ancestry, nor myheritage nor familysearch there is a Dolly Gray from Clementsport, Upper Clements or Annapolis, Canada.
But there is a well known song named “Goodbye, Dolly Gray” first published in 1897.
And according to Wikipedia there is a notable early gramophone recording from in 1901 by the Canadian singer Harry Macdonough. In the same year another popular version came out by the Big Four Quartette with vocal group members Arthur Collins, Byron Harlan, Joe Natus and A.D. Madeira. Does this ring a bell? In the last postcard Dolly wrote about Collins performing in Wolfville – the same Collins from the Big Four Quartet who sings “Goodbye, Dolly Gray”? So…
…what if Dolly Gray is a pseudonym? As the postcard to “Dolly” went to Anna. bo. we can assume this Annapolis, box office. So whoever was “Dolly Gray”, she went to the post office to collect the cards. When we look at Jack’s address, it is Truro, N.S. (Nova Scotia), or Box Office 274 in Windsor or according to the letters, Wolfville. All towns, including Upper Clements, are coast towns on Nova Scotia.
According to the cards we know of an uncle of “Dolly”, she calls him “uncle Lev”. And due to the last letter we know of a “Mr. Purdy”, who sadly died on January, 6th.
My idea was that “Dolly Gray” is indeed Edna Maria Williams. So I researched her family. Her parents are James Frederick Williams and Mary Levina Potter. Hey, LEVina! So I searched for the Potter siblings of Edna’s mother first – and, bingo! – there was a James Levereatt Potter. I found him in Canada’s census of 1901 in Upper Clements! So he IS uncle Lev!
And on we go: There is a man named Stillman Purdy, who died in 1911 in Upper Clements. And the Purdy family lives next door to the Williams family in the 1911 Census. So we have our (dead) Mr. Purdy.
So “Dolly Gray” IS Edna Maria Williams and “Jack” IS Arthur Willard Gates. They married September 19th, 1913.
I can only say thank you to Gerry Haynaly for this great research and cryptanalysis! These cards tell a fascinating story, and it is great to see that they have been brought together again after so many years.
I’m sure that there are even more postcards written by Dolly and Arthur. If a reader can find any, please let Gerry and me know.
Further reading: Nine encrypted postcards sent from Harry to Charlie