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An Order for a Replacement Part from 1891

This 1-cent postal card shown in Figure 1 was issued by the Post Office in 1886. In the US Scott Catalog, it is number UX9. It is a so-called "back of book" item, meaning it is something other than a postal stamp.


George Cromwell, a resident of Lee County, Illinois, mailed this postal card from the Harmon, Illinois post office on December 29, 1891. He mailed it to the Sandwich Manufacturing Company in Sandwich, Illinois, a town about 52 miles east of Harmon. In it he writes (Figure 2):


Harmon Ills. Dec 29 1891


Sandwich Mfg. Co. Sirs please send me casting no. P.73 for my hay press. Send it as soon as you can and oblige send it to Harmon.


Geo. Cromwell


The Sandwich Manufacturing Company (Figure 3) made farm implements such as corn shellers, grain elevators, rakes and presses, lawn mowers, and gas engines. Though it was a smaller company, the Sandwich line of equipment was known all over the world. It was founded in 1856 and continued in business until 1955 (i). You can see a picture of the type of hay press that Mr. Cromwell owned in Figure 4.

On the left side of Figure 1, there is a faint stamp that shows the Sandwich Manufacturing Company received this postal card on December 30, 1891. There are also some notations on the message side of the card that were probably made by whoever processed this request.


Based on information found on Ancestry.com. Mr. Cromwell (Figure 5) was born in Clear Ridge, Pennsylvania in 1850, a small town in the center of the state. I don't know when he moved to northern Illinois, but he died in 1907 in Dixon, a town located about a dozen miles north of Harmon. He is buried in Dixon's Oakwood Cemetery.


The circular date stamp is interesting because it not only shows the post office's name, but the name of its postmaster, George Whittle Hill (Figure 6).


Mr. Hill was born in Massachusetts in 1848 and was living in Harmon by 1871. He was one of the first merchants of Harmon and grew quite wealthy, affording him the opportunity to own property in the town as well as a 160-acre farm.


According to an 1892 publication titled, Portrait and Biographical Record of Lee County, Illinois, Mr. Hill's fellow citizens


"rightly judging that a man of his metal possesses sound qualifications for responsible offices, have often called him to assist in the management of public affairs. Thus, he has been Secretary of the Committee of Harmon Township, he has been Collector three terms, and one term represented his township on the County Board of Supervisors. He has always been a steadfast advocate of the policy of the Republican party and has frequently taken part in the councils of his fellow Republicans as a delegate to county, district and State conventions. He was Postmaster at Harmon during the administrations of Hayes, Garfield and Arthur, stepped out when Cleveland was in the Presidential chair, but was re-instated when Harrison became the head of the Government."


Mr. Hill passed away in 1929 at age 81 at the home of his daughter in Rockford, Illinois. He was survived by four sons and two daughters; his wife and one daughter predeceased him. He was buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Dixon, according to the Dixon Evening Telegraph of December 16, 1929.

Figure 1 - Address side of postal card

Figure 2 - Message side of postal card

Figure 3 - Sandwich Manufacturing Company Circa 1871

Figure 4 - 1885 Sandwich Hay Press

Figure 5 - Cromwell family portrait circa 1895; George Cromwell is seated on the right.

Figure 6 - George Whittle Hill





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