Antique post card was mailed in 1918 featuring Wilton

WILTON – Kathleen McDonnell Dolinak of Wilton enjoys antique shopping and on a recent trip to New Bedford, Mass., came across an antique post card of downtown Wilton and there was no questions asked – she had to purchase it and bring it back to Wilton.

“The store had so many items. I saw a large area where they had post cards and I was thumbing through and saw a New Hampshire one and pulled it out,” Dolinak said.

“The card was really cool and I noticed it so quickly because it had downtown Wilton on it. It had a horse and buggy and I was amazed how different it was but also how similar. The post card was of Wilton but the person it was addressed to was Pawtucket, R.I., which is close by.”

The post card is a scene in time taken from where the current Wilton Fire Station is located looking down Main Street toward the post office.

The massive stone wall on the right side of the road was there but lined with big maple trees where current parking spots are while a building occupied the current parking lot next to the post office.

Some unique aspects of the photo that provide a glimpse of the timeframe are a woman in a long white dress, a horse and buggy further down the road, plus a row of hitching posts along the sidewalk.

It was postmarked June 20, 1918, and sent to Miss Yvone Lamane, 31 Forest Ave., Pawtucket, R.I. It was stamped from “Boston & So. Vernon R.P.O.” with a 2 cent stamp. The message written is: “Dear Friend, Just a note to tell you that I am going training school for machine in Durham, N.H. Grom & Nect H Fournier and soon.” The last part was difficult to make out.

This news was important enough to send to a friend but written as a short message and sent via U.S. Postal Service while in the early 1900s, was a common way to communicate and hence, why post cards were so popular. Today, some old post cards remain and history can be found at antique stores, flea markets or places, such as eBay.

A quick eBay search for Wilton, NH, found about 15 post cards, many appearing to be from the early 1900s but none exactly like the one Dolinak found. There are other views of downtown Wilton that show the Everett House, a hotel that no longer exists, with a view of Town Hall, the Belle Colline Beard Estate, the Gregg Library and Masonic Temple from across the river, the Wilton Rail Road, Dale Street, Tremont Street, the church on Maple Street, Abbott Hill, the Wilton Woolen Mill, Hillsborough Mills and a few of the falls and ledges.

This post card is a photo of Wilton and purchased 95 years later in Massachusetts, not far from the Rhode Island address it was sent to.

“I would love to know the history of it and how it ended up in New Bedford,” Dolinak added. She enjoys finding items from older time periods and plans to hold onto the post card.

President of the Wilton Historical Society David Potter provided some history.

“Post cards were pretty popular back in the 1920s and 1930s and one of the ways people use to write short notes to their friends and relatives,” Potter said.

“We do have a post card with this same image in our collection. The large white building in the background is a former livery stable and was located where the Wilton War memorials are now located,” he added.

The Stanton Building has a date of 1888, while another building in town has a date of 1912 and they are both clearly in the image.

The building dated 1912, where the yoga studio and Cropaholics are located, used to be the Boston Shoe Store, while a general store called D.E. Proctor was in the post office parking lot and that building existed into the 1950s, but under a different name, according to Potter.

“Where Sullivan Law is located there was a hotel there even in the 1940s. It was called Souhegan Hotel at one time, but had a couple of other names because it changed hands and changed names,” he said. “From my research, one of the names was the Everett House.

“So many years ago, these post cards were a representation of the town and we don’t see that around anymore,” you could see what it used to look like, commented town employee Doreece Miller.

On Thursdays from 1-5 p.m., at the Gregg Free Public Library, the Wilton Historical Society is opened and additional post cards are on display.