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Jerusalem Western Salisbury
3441 Devonshire Road
Allentown, PA 18103
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Office: 610-797-4242 or 610-791-4979
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Over the summer, my wife and I went to several flea markets and antique markets looking for postcards. We were looking for Dorney Park postcards and memorabilia, but we were also looking for Allentown postcards and postcards from other places that we like to visit. I have been collecting postcards since I was a little boy, buying them wherever we went as a souvenir, and requesting friends and relatives to send me cards when they visited somewhere. Friends and family also gave me cards that they had received in the mail.
At one particular stand at an antique market, I found a postcard of Jerusalem Western Salisbury Church and I purchased it. The postcard (pictured below) says on the top "Jerusalem Western Salisbury Church, RFD No. 5, Allentown, PA." The photograph is taken from the vantage point of the current cemetery parking lot. You will notice that the trees at the front of the church are small and that windows are glass paned with shutters on the bottom windows.
Dating postcards is often difficult because many of them were unused or not postmarked. The one I purchased this summer has writing on the back, but no postmark or date. The company that produced the postcard, the Albertype Company of Brooklyn, New York, was in business from 1890 to 1952, too large of a span to help date the card. So instead, we must turn to the "Postcard Styles and Types" to help us date the card.
The first "postcards" were produced between 1867 and1898 during the "Pioneer" period. During this time, the post office did not have a postcard rate and rarely is anything printed on the back like postcard or Post Card. The postcard in question is not from this period because the photograph, includes the Tilghman K. Kline Chapel was built in 1899. In 1898, Congress authorized the "Private Mailing Card." At this time, no writing other than the address was allowed on the back of the card. My postcard is not from this early time period because it is printed with the words POST CARD.
Postcard historians call the period from 1901 to 1907 the "Undivided Back" Period, which means there was no line in the middle of the back of the postcard. In this period, however, the words POST CARD begin to be printed on the back of the card.
Postcards produced from 1907 to 1915 are considered to be from the "Divided Back" period. Starting on March 1, 1907, people could finally write a message on the back of the card, rather than on the front where the picture appeared. There is a line to divide the back of the card between message or correspondence and address. My church postcard is probably from this period because the back has a division line and says POST CARD. Also, the postcard does not have a white border, which is the next postcard period; from 1915 to 1930, postcards were printed with white borders.
So judging from the postcard types and styles as a guide, I believe the postcard in question was printed between 1907 and 1915. Unfortunately, no other postcards in my collection were produced by this company, which could have helped to pinpoint a date to a particular year. Someday, I might find another card from the same manufacturer that has a postmark. I will keep searching; maybe someone out there reading my column has one!
Incidentally, the writing on the back of my postcard was addressed to "Esta Marsteller, Shimersvill [sic]" from "Mamma." My research has revealed that "Esta" was Esther Victoria Marsteller (27 October 1897 - 29 November 1973). Born in Old Zionsville, she was the daughter of Harvey Franklin and Sallie I. (Fetterman) Marsteller. "Mamma" Sallie must have given "Esta" this postcard, because it is not postmarked. On 24 June 1922, Esther married Edwin Dreas; they had at least one child who died in infancy. The 1940 U.S. Census lists Esta as a sewing machine operator living with her husband at 107 East Walnut Street in Macungie. She had completed the eighth grade.
Esther V. Marstellar (1897 - 1973)
This new postcard find led me to investigate how many other postcards might have been made of the church. So I checked the archives and found that there were actually several cards produced during the "Golden Age" of postcards. The archives had a postcard like the one I purchased this summer, however, the printing on the back is slightly different and it is also not postmarked. Other postcards in the archives will be the subjects of subsequent articles. We thank all those who have donated historical items to the archives and welcome new editions anytime.
I have appreciated the positive responses to my articles and I am pleased that people are interested in the rich history of our church. If you have curiosity about our church and its history, or information to share, please contact me through the church office or at Finkyx@aol.com.
Joshua Arthur Fink, Historian