Kreyenhagen, who has relatives who formerly lived in Knightsen, confirmed what local historian Carol Jenson suspected: the postcard was written by Essie Knight to her sister Adeline. In the message, Essie refers to their sister Amy, who Essie reported made it to Coalinga. Kreyenhagen has made an educated guess, which impressed Jensen, as to why Amy ventured more than 150 miles south.
“Ed Kreyenhagen now pieces the clues together,” Jensen said. “What is Amy doing in Coalinga? She is 25 or 26 years old and married. She has three children. Coalinga is a boom town in 1910 with the development of the oil industry. There is a Harvey Rook, plumber, listed in the Coalinga Business Directory of 1910.”
Amy married Harvey Rook in Sept. 5, 1902. Kreyenhagen suggests that the “great big auto” that Essie refers to in her message is not the Rook family car, but a vehicle owned by an oil company friend who was bringing friends to visit Coalinga. Jensen said there is a record of an auto party group arriving in Coalinga on Oct. 26, 1910. Essie’s postcard was postmarked on the same day.
This small piece of information can be added to the legacy of the Knight family, which settled in present day Knightsen in late 19th century. George W. Knight married Christina Christensen on March 2, 1885. Jensen said they contributed the land, which would become Knightsen, and combined their last names to name the town (George’s last name plus the last three letters of Christina’s maiden name). The spelling indicated Danish heritage, but that’s no excuse for the town being misspelled on the front of the postcard.
In Essie’s message, she refers to “Geo.” Kreyenhagen believes the nickname refers to George Knight, but Jensen hypothesizes that “Geo” is actually George Duff, who would later marry Adeline after the two were reacquainted when Addie returned to Knightsen following her divorce from Cohen Mecum. Jensen likes to think of Essie as a matchmaker, bringing the childhood friends back together.
Stay tuned next week for the December installment of History Mystery.