Friday, November 13, 2015

Postcard from a Matchmaker?

I couldn't resist this postcard from an antique store and just had to find out what happened to Zella Powell and W.J. Warren. Was the sender trying to set up Mr. Warren with a girlfriend, or did it mean something else?

An unknown lady named Pearl sent the postcard below from Conway, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, to her apparent relative, W. J. Warren, in Warrendale, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania:
"Well John I have a girl for you [S]he will be their [sic] Mon morn. Grand dad will bring her [S]he is Zella Powell [A]s ever, Pearl"
Did the two meet and get married? Nope. But they each married a Dunlap from Economy, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, so that's an interesting twist.

Here is a brief summary of what I found about Zella and John:
  • Zella Mary Powell was born 24 Jan 1889 in Economy, Pennsylvania. At the age of 25, she traveled to Brooke County, West Virginia, to marry James Franklin Dunlap Jr. who was 20. They had at least seven children together.
  • William John Warren was easy to locate in various records; he was living at the same address shown on the postcard up until his death in 1962. He was an oil field worker and married Emma Bell Dunlap on 22 Oct 1908. They had two sons.
  • I was unable to determine the relationship between James Franklin Dunlap Jr. and Emma Bell Dunlap but, since they both were living in Economy, Pennsylvania before marriage, it's very possible there was a family connection.

I thought the postcard was dated 1912 but either (1) that's incorrect since John was already married by that year, or (2) Pearl wasn't trying to fix him up with a girlfriend at all!

If you are a family member of either Zella Powell Dunlap or William John Warren and would like the postcard, please contact me.


  1. Mail delivery at that time was far quicker than we would believe today. A post card or letter sent to an adjacent county would usually be at the receiving post office the next day. Post masters were required to keep their cancelers accurately dated and that one cent stamp portraying George Washington was issued in 1912 so yes, it is the correct date.
    I think it's most likely that John's wife needed some help around this time, so he wrote to a family member to be sure he got someone reliable, either an extended family member or someone they trusted.

    1. Mike, thank you so much for verifying the date. Your comments about mail delivery are very interesting. I took another look at the family, and in 1912 Emma would have had a 1 year-old. It's also likely that her father-in-law was living with them as well since he appears in their household in 1920, and his wife had died by 1912. So perhaps Emma did need another pair of hands, especially if they were in a rural area with no family nearby. Thanks for taking the time to comment!


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