The Shirt Collar Mail

On April 21, 1906, three days after the terrible San Francisco earthquake, James Graves Jones dispatched a letter to his family in New York, informing them that he was safe and also describing the devastation in the city. The letter read:

Dear Wayland and Gussie: All safe but awfully scared. Frisco and hell went into partnership and hell came out winner—got away with the sack. Draw a line from Ft Mason along Van Ness Ave. to Market St., out Market to Dolores to Twentieth, thence to Harrison, 16th & Potrero Ave., R.R. Ave. to Channel St. and bay. Nearly everything east and North of this boundary line gone, and several blocks west of it, especially in Hayes Valley as far as Octavia St. from Golden Gate Ave. east. Fire is still burning on the northside but is checked in the Mission. I and a band of 40 or 50 volunteers formed a rope and bucket brigade, back-fired Dolores from Market to 19th, pulled down houses and blanketed westside Dolores and won a great moral victory.

More with paper and stamps. James G. Jones

What’s unusual about this correspondence is that it was written on a piece of shirt collar that James G. Jones had apparently yanked out his shirt, and was posted without stamps. Yet, it was delivered to his family.

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