Genealogical Details

I have a letter that my grandmother Maggie Lane wrote to my grandfather Len Waller. The letter is addressed to "Lin Waller" and dated "Tues. Morn April 4". The stamp on the envelope is canceled with a simple circular cancellation with no post office or date. Is there a way to determine the year in which the letter was written?


A year of exactly 52 weeks would be 364 days long. Since most years have 365 days the day of the week that a certain date falls on will slip one day further in the week each year, unless the year is a leap year. For example, Christmas falls on Wednesday this year 2002. Next year Christmas will fall on Thursday, and the following year on Saturday since it is a leap year. The date in the letter restricts the years to those years on which April 4 fell on a Tuesday.

But the postage stamp on the envelope of the letter was only used during certain years. By referring to a guide for stamp collectors we can identify the stamp and the guide gives the years the stamp was in general use. This 2 cent stamp was first issued in 1894 and was in use through 1903 when another 2 cent stamp design was issued.

Using a calendar preparation program one can determine the years in which April 4 fell on a Tuesday. The only year that this happened during the life of the stamp was in 1899. Of course, a person could have had a stamp a couple of years old and still use it in 1905 when April 4 again fell on a Tuesday. But by then my grandparents had been married and she knew his name was spelled Len and not Lin.

So I conclude that the letter was written in 1899 during their courting days. And the tone of the letter is that of a young lady trying to pique the interest of a young man. CLICK HERE TO SEE THE LETTER