In doing the research for my manuscript inspired by the journal of Isaac Beckley Werner and in writing this blog since 2011, I have often reflected on Isaac as a "forgotten man." I began research about his family on Ancestry.com and found only a few others researching the Werner family. Now I am delighted to see several people adding to the Werner family information on Ancestry, and most of them have "poached" off my tree, which pleases me very much. Without Isaac's journal, that would not have happened. I am thankful my prairie bachelor left behind a journal of his daily life and the life of his community.
As Thanksgiving draws near, I am thankful for memories of family, memories that are often related to objects. This week I am going to share some objects that relate back to the late 1800s when Isaac was keeping his journal, as well as some objects from the early 1900s. It is my hope that this blog might encourage some of you to pull out family mementos of your own to share with younger members of your family.
I have chosen to enter all of the photographs in a small size in order to include more images, but remember that you can click on them to enlarge them.
While I always assumed that the stereoscope pictured above right belonged to my grandparents, having read Isaac's journal I now suspect it was owned by my great-grandparents, as stereoscopes were very popular in the late 1800s and Isaac owned one. I see a great many donated stereoscopes in local history museums, but if your family still has one, what a treasure to start a conversation with the younger members of the family about the subjects of the slides as well as the types of entertainment their ancestors enjoyed.
The basketball trophy at left was purchased by my father when the old Emerson School House was torn down. Perhaps it once had a base with the name of the tournament and other information, but that is missing. What I was told was that it was a trophy awarded to a team on which my father played. I treasure it. Many schools have stopped keeping all of the trophies, removing the older ones from the display cases to make room for new victories. I'm sure you can guess that I am disappointed, as a sense of heritage is an important thing to pass on to later generations, in my opinion. If your family has acquried old trophies, what a great opportunity to pass on a little family sports history to children and grandchildren!
|Lady's Dressing Table Set|
The lady's dressing table set pictured at right belonged to my great-aunt Verna, who was a young school teacher who contracted tuberculosis and died at the age of 23. Her initials were VPB and if you enlarge the image you may be able to read them in the swirling monogram. The material is Bakelite, an early synthetic plastic patented in 1906 by its inventor, Leo Hendrick Balkeland (1863-1944). I was given this set as a little girl, and perhaps that contributed to my affection for this great-aunt who died long before I was born. The lamp base that can be seen at the top of the picture is one of a set that was always on my mother's dressing table, and the dressing table itself in the photograph belonged to my husband's mother. Personal items and old furniture can bring ancestors to life in the imaginations of children.
The shot glass pictured above left fascinated me as a child. I think my fascination was a result of its tiny, child-like size, and I doubt that I had any idea of its purpose. There was no liquor in my childhood home. It's message, "Just a Swallow," did not convey any particular purpose to me until I was older. By then I knew its use, and I understood that in his youth my father had enjoyed a drink but when I was a child had made a choice to abstain. I respected that choice, and I respected his decisions on other occasions to share a celebratory drink with his grown children--interesting memories of a fine example set by my father.
|Glass Keepsake Globe|
The Glass Lidded Keepsake Globe was where my mother put her jewelry until she could take the time to put it away properly. It sat on her dresser and usually contained something for a curious daughter to admire. Little girls may now have the benefit of Title Nine and be competitive athletes, but most of them still love jewelry, and keepsake jewelry that once belonged to ancestors is a wonderful way to share memories of those women. One of my mother's best friends loved jewelry, and I remember that she belonged to an earring-a-month club. I loved looking through her jewelry box when we visited her home, and she would tease me that if I married her son I could have all of her jewelry! I didn't get the jewelry, but her son is still a great friend of mine. Many sons also treasure watches, rings, and other items pass down through the generations. Sharing the stories about the prior owners will make family jewelry even more special when it is received.
The Mantle Clock now sits on our fireplace mantle, and I know that my parents received it after the deaths of my father's parents. At that time they received two mantle clocks, the second clock now in my uncle's family's keeping. I wish my parents had told me more about this clock--did my grandparents purchase one or both of the clocks or did they inherit one or both of them from their parents, and if so, which family line? The clock is a good reminder to share the full story of the past of family heirlooms with descendants.
|A Favorite Photo|
The framed photograph of my father at right is just a reminder that Thanksgiving is a great time to get out the old pictures. Kids like to see old pictures of themselves to hear the stories of events they were too young to have remembered, as well as see Mom and Dad in younger years! But, while you are looking through the pictures together, it is also a good time to tell them about older ancestors and to write identifying names on the backs.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, and a special Thanksgiving Greeting to my many foreign followers. On the 4th Thursday of November, Americans traditionally take time to remember all of the things for which we have to be thankful. I am very thankful to all of those who have followed this blog, both those long-time followers and those new-comers who have discovered the blog a bit later. Some of you are regular visitors and others visit the blog for posts of particular interest. I am thankful for the support of each and every one of you!
Remember, you can click on the images to enlarge them, and you can share stories of your own about family objects that preserve memories by posting a comment below.