Thursday, February 16, 2023

Tragic End


February 16, 2023

Ray Hahn

The Tragic End
of August J. Bulte

The average collector of advertising postcards will, when asked, give you a dozen good reasons for collecting, but the most common is that advertising cards symbolize elements that enhance the curiosity we have in social history. The postcards we examine here are wonderful examples, but they are so “sterile” that there is little to say about them that the images fail to portray.

Each card has this wonderful post card apparatus that uses the same characters from the story-telling images to advertise the availability of the cards to anyone who sends two-cents in stamps to Aug. J. Bulte Milling Co., Kansas City, Mo.

The five cards on file at Postcard History are captioned:  

Homeward bound with Bulte’s Best,
Other cards will tell the rest-

Bulte’s Best, so pure and white,
Cook receives it with delight.

Patty Cake, patty cake
fast as you can,

We hardly can wait
‘til it’s put in the pan.

Into the oven- now comes the test,
Soon we will show, ‘twas Bulte’s Best.

Of all the flour we’ve put to test,
We’ll use just one – that’s Bulte’s Best.

The artwork on the cards is clever, precise, and charming and features a hefty sized bag of Bulte Flour labeled with their easily recognized oval, orange and white logo, however the artwork is unsigned. There are no publisher markings. And, to add to the lack of information dilemma, one of the cards from the six-card set is missing.

Normally Postcard History would delay the presentation of such a story until the last card is found, but this one is too good to wait. And, it all has to do with the Bulte family and the horrible end that befell two of its members.

*   *   *

The oldest public documents signed by Casper H. (Heinrich). Bulte (spelled with an “o” instead of a “u”) are two deeds for land purchased from the United States government on October 1, 1845, and January 15, 1856, respectively. Casper, his wife Ann, and their three children: William, Catherine, and Frances (all born in Prussia) appear in the Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 as farmers.

Casper’s and Ann’s only son, William married between 1850 and 1854, and in the Eighth Census, 1860, he, his wife, and son August and his three baby-sisters were living with Casper and Ann in Franklin County, Missouri.

August J. Bulte (or Augustus, as he appears in other sources, i.e., the University of St. Louis academic records – was not among the students with an asterisk after his name. An asterisk was used to indicate students of high academic achievement) was born in St. Louis on May 27, 1862. Information about his youthful years is scarce but in a city directory from 1879 he is found as a clerk in a grocery store named Meyer and Bulte; likely co-owned by an uncle or great-uncle.

August disappeared from the public records until 1909 when he reappeared as the president of the Aug. J. Bulte Milling Company. This could well be within the period of the postcards mentioned above.

On October 16, 1916, A J’s wife Lena died at age 47. There is no way of knowing how his wife’s passing affected Mr. Bulte’s business affairs, but just three years later the A. J. Milling Company became Larabee Flour Mill Corporation.

August remarried in 1921 and assumed a job as vice-president and general manager of the Larabee Mill in Kansas City.

Then came March 7, 1922, when Mr. and Mrs. Bulte and their friends, Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence C. Smith, left Kansas City for a vacation in Florida and Cuba. (The following has been gleaned from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of March 25, 1922, and subsequent issues.)

One way-point destination for the vacationing couples was the Island of Bimini, one of the Bahamian Islands. The thrill of the trip to the island was as exciting as the destination. At some time after nine o’clock in the morning of March 22, 1922, the Bultes and Smiths arrived at the home hangar of Miss Miami, a seaplane (also dubbed a flying-boat) owned and piloted by one Robert Moore. Joining the others was a Mrs. Dixon of Memphis, Tennessee.

When the five passengers and their luggage were loaded the plane took off to the east into a fairly stiff breeze but as they crossed the shoreline and when out over the ocean all was well. The flight was uneventful until about twenty minutes west of their destination. Suddenly a piece of the propeller broke off and the plane immediately lost its momentum.

Mr. Moore attempted to land his flying boat near a fishing vessel or an island but could not manage his goal. The wind and the heavy sea-surges flipped the plane, and the passengers were forced to scramble for safety by clinging to bits of floating debris.

Eventually the five passengers perished, but Moore was rescued from the Atlantic fifty-five hours after the accident by the crew of the steamship (S. S.) William Greene. Details of the accident were wired to Bimini and forwarded to the Miami Herald.

The pilot’s account of the accident was published in newspapers from Boston to California. The papers in Kansas and Missouri were filled with dozens of hometown sidebars and memoirs of the Bultes and Smiths.

Newspaper sketches of Mr. and Mrs. Bulte

In the days and weeks that followed the story continued with the drama and machinations of the family’s lawsuits against nearly everyone they could find reasons to sue. The Bulte estate was estimated to include $5,000 in real estate and $50,000 in cash, business holding, and personal property. The estate (as best as can be determined from newspaper accounts) was settled in March 1927.



February 12, 2023

Editor’s Staff


The 22nd letter of the English alphabet is “V.” In its capital letter form it is used in text to abbreviate vector, velocity, verb, verse, verses, very, victory, vide, video, voice, voltage, volume, and vowel. In most instances the V is a capital letter when used as an abbreviation. When V is used as a symbol, it can mean vanadium or volt. With an A, as in VA, the letter-pair can be a postal code, a rank within the United States Navy (vice-admiral), and an abbreviation for a state name. Similar pairings with the letters D, F, G, I, J, P, S, T, V, and X result in several abbreviations and chemical notations, also a mathematical value (an unknown).

In the game Words With Friends, it has been authenticated that 1,438 words begin with the letter V. The only letters that appear less often as initials than V are J, K, Q, X, Y, and Z.  “V” as the initial letter of a word does not occur as often as letters such as S and P; each of which are the first letter in nearly 25,000 words. The letter C comes first in about 20,000 words, and A and U begin about 17,000 words each.

With nearly every letter there are words that are fun to say, some of the words that start with V that some people like saying are: vaccinate, vampire, vanilla, vegetable, vehicle, vicissitude, vindicate, voluptuous, and vulcanize.

Postcards in many ways honor the letters of our alphabet. Most of the major card publishers did alphabet sets. Most alphabet sets have 26 cards, some have 24 by combining pairs such as Q and U and X with an E (such as X-tra Edition) or X with a R (as in X-ray). Tichnor Brothers of Boston, Massachusetts, was one company that produced a ten-card set based on just one letter and it was in an especially appropriate year – yes, it was the letter V in 1941. The set was given the number 306 and titled, Victory Series. It had ten designs.

Victory Series Checklist

Each card is numbered on the image (front) side in
 the upper right corner. The titles follow:

V1 – Let’s Go Forward Together
V2 – Over the Top For Victory
V3 – Strive for Victory
V4 – Let’s Pull Together
V5 – Keep ‘em Flying

V6 – Victory is our Goal
V7 – Victory
V8 – USA, Liberty…Justice for All
V9 – United We Stand
V10 – Defend Your Country

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “victory”
as the overcoming of an enemy or an antagonist,
 or the achievement of mastery or success
in a struggle or endeavor.


The “V” is the only element common in all ten designs. Hues and tones of red, white and blue give each card an ethereal yet patriotic aura. The Morse Code for the letter V (da-da-da-dash) is found on three of the cards and the word “Victory” appears in four of the designs. There are representative icons of the army, navy, air corps, the American eagle, the regular hard-working American citizen, Uncle Sam and the American flag. It seems the only American icon that went unused was a Mom with an Apple Pie.

With all of this there is one component in the history of the letter V that we see frequently, but even today has a very mysterious and mostly unknown origin.

If you surveyed 100 people, it may be that 98 would tell you that it was Winston Churchill who originated the VICTORY hand sign during the second world war. Not true, well not entirely. The two-finger VICTORY hand sign was first popularized by a Belgian named Victor de Laveleye, a lawyer, minister of public education and during the second world war a newsreader for the Belgian radio network – aided by the British Broadcasting Corporation – that transmitted news programing into Nazi occupied Belgium.

As part of Laveleye’s January 14, 1941, broadcast he suggested using the V sign as a rally signal because the letter V was the initial letter of victoire (French), vrijheid (Dutch), and victory (English) – the three languages used by the BBC. The V-sign campaign was instantly popular and was later adopted by Churchill. The only unfortunate part of the story is that Churchill often used it the wrong way around with his palms facing inward which in many parts of the British commonwealth was (and is) a vulgar insult much like the middle-finger salute.

In the years that followed (the 1950s and ‘60s) Churchill was frequently mimicked by American Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon.

So, the world-goes-on and it should be remembered that in our world where political correctness is not only expected but demanded, that we need to be as careful in how we sign to people as we are in how we speak to them.