20 November 1913: Although the caption reads “Synagogue Beth Israel” this was actually Synagogue Adath Yeshuren. Beth Israel was the original synagogue in Houston and Adath Yeshuren was a more orthodox congregation that split off from Beth Israel in the early 20th century. Beth Israel and Adath Yeshurun were located quite close to each other, this synagogue at 901 Jackson Street at the corner of Walker and the former one block west and one block south at 1015 Crawford. Though the two split from each other over church protocols, relations between the two were generally amiable. In those days orthodox worshippers walked to services so synagogues were situated close to their homes. Between the two synagogues was the Jewish Literary Society at 911 Jackson a site of common social interaction. Visible in the background right at 1712 Walker was the home of Joseph and Rebecca Simon and their son-in-law Victor Will Lyons. Joseph was a floorwalker at Mistrot-Curtis (See Mistrot-Munn at Congress and Travis in 1917) and Victor was a manager of a salvage company.
31 March 2017: Discovery Green is a 12-acre green space on the east side of downtown Houston. Begun in 2004, the site includes cafes, walking paths, picturesque park benches, promenades, a roller-skating rink, a playground, and a boating pond bordered by natural vegetation. The site where the synagogue once sat is on the north side just east of the boating pond. George R. Brown Convention Center, named for George Rufus Brown (1898-1983), founder of corporate conglomerate Brown & Root, is in the background. The nautical-theme design of this massive structure features portholes and replica smokestacks on the roof, positioned here like red quotation marks. The center is host to the largest of conventions including the 60,000 who annually attend for the International Quilt Festival. Discovery Green schedules events throughout the year and has become a welcome addition to the cultural and leisure landscape of Houston.
Postmarked: 20 November 1913; Barre, VT
Stamp: 1c Green George Washington
To: Mr. & Mrs. William Smith,
47 Pattersob St.,
Dear Aunt & Uncle;- Just a few lines to let you know we are both well. I thank you thousands of times for what stove pipe you sent us ^ by papa. We diden’t have any to go with our stove. I will try and do as much for you some days. Mamma was here all day. She said you was coming last Sat. Try come this week Sat. with Uncle Will so he can go hunting be sure & come now
from neice and nephew
from Elizabeth & Bert Jerry
The population of Barre, Vermont in 1910 was about 11,000, and it was becoming the granite center of the world. “Barre Gray” from the Devonian age pluton near there is famous for its fine grain, even texture, and supreme weather resistance, it is preferred by sculptors for their outdoor sculptures. Elizabeth’s Uncle Will Smith was a polisher in a granite quarry, while her father, Frank Machia was a farmer. Elizabeth married Albert Jerry on May 26, 1913 less than six months before she mailed his postcard. How she came to use a postcard of a Houston synagogue is a bit of a mystery, but the newlyweds may have traveled to the Gulf Coast on a honeymoon, and got the card there. Elizabeth thanks her Aunt and Uncle for a stovepipe that had been missing from her stove, possibly a form of a wedding gift. She speaks of her mother being there all day, possibly helping with a new house for the couple. Her mother was Celinda Shotwell Machia (1871-1968), sister of her Aunt Lillian Shontell Smith (1872-1948).
Bert and Elizabeth Jerry were farmers, spending their lives in the area around Barre, VT. They had 4 children: Howard Bert (1916), Vernal Eugene (1921-1997), Richard Frank (1924-1989) and Dorothy Elizabeth (1928-1974), who married Tony Weeks (1925-1974). All spent their lives around Barre, VT except Richard who went to Berlin about 100 miles to the east in Coos County, NH.
The granite mines around Barre are where many of the tombstones across America have originated. The W. L. Smith Granite Mine (no apparent relation to William Fred Smith) is extremely picturesque, and has been the subject of many photographs, forming the archetypal concept of a quarry in the minds of many.
William Fred Smith died in 1919 and is buried in Hope Cemetery in Barre, VT. Nearly 29 years later Lillie died and was buried by her husband. Their common gravestone seems to be hewn from Barre Gray granite. Elizabeth Mary Jerry died on 22 April 1968, and Jerry died six months later on 6 November 1968; they are buried together in Saint Monica Cemetery in Barre.