Your Family’s Stuff   13 comments

My Great Great Grandfather Baugher wore a chain on his vest, with his retractable brass toothpick attached.  It's a scary looking thing.  The toothpick, I mean.

My Great Great Grandfather Baugher wore a chain on his vest, with his retractable brass toothpick attached. It’s a scary looking thing. The toothpick, I mean.

Old stuff.

This painting was done by my Great Great Aunt Alma, and was given to my Mother and Father as a wedding present.  It'll never hang in a museum, but what a treasure!

This painting was done by my Great Great Aunt Alma Shull Parsons, and was given to my Mother and Father as a wedding present. It’ll never hang in a museum, but what a treasure!

The last time I visited Mom, we agreed that my next visit would include a session where we identified family heirlooms.  Mom would tell the story. Sis would write the description.  I’d take a picture, and then I’d combine those elements into one document.  That way, we would always know what’s what, and what belonged to whom.

Simple, yes?  Not really.  You’ve got to find the time.  I live 1,800 miles away.  Sis is 200 miles away. Not. Simple.

At long last, the planets had aligned and we were ready.  Mom proceeded to trot out a diverse lot of, uh, stuff.  Let me be clear that we’re not talking about items with a high dollar value.  We are talking about stuff that had been handed down from previous generations … like a brass toothpick owned by my Great Great Grandfather.  Things that no one outside of my family would ever care about!  But, oh my, what stuff Mom has!

I was amazed at how much I learned.  You see, I’ve sat around Mom’s dinner table and talked about our ancestors.  She’s got books and books and 3-ring notebooks of pictures and written records and birth certificates and service records and … STUFF … that we have discussed for hours.

We’ve got the family pictures and family tree documentation pretty well in hand (I hope).

Now, however, we’re learning about physical objects that rarely see the light of day … and now our entire family gets to know their story!

Pictures of my two favorite items are below.  As you can see, it’s not about the monetary value, it’s about the family stories.  The only way for you to capture those — the ONLY way — is to talk to your family members about what they know while you still have access to them.  You never know when you’ll move away, or they’ll move away, or tragedy will strike and communication just won’t be possible anymore.

Find the opportunity to talk to your family members about what they know.  You’ll find that the old stuff that’s lying around just might take on a whole new meaning for you when you know the history of each item!

Pocket watch?  Not from my family!

Pocket watch? Not from my family!

This pocket shot glass was handed down, but we don't know who it belonged to.  Alas ... but it sure does illuminate a fun heritage!

This collapsible pocket shot glass was handed down, but we don’t know who owned it originally. Alas … but it sure does illuminate a fun heritage!

This graphic of a guardian angel (sorry for the poor photograph!) hung in the home of my Great Grandparents, James Woods and Matilda Rebecca Swartz Decker.  It now hangs in Mom's home.

This graphic of a guardian angel (sorry for the poor photograph!) hung in the home of my Great Grandparents, James Woods and Matilda Rebecca Swartz Decker. It now hangs in Mom’s home.

Mom presented this counted cross stitch of a Guardian Angel to Velda years ago, and it's hung in our home since.  I didn't know it was the same image as the one that hung in my Great Grandparents until Mom told me last week!

Knowing Velda’s love of angels, Mom made this counted cross stitch of a Guardian Angel for Velda years ago, and it’s hung in our home since. I didn’t understand it was the same image as the one that hung in my Great Grandparents’ home until Mom told me last week!

 

13 responses to “Your Family’s Stuff

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  1. As an antiques lover, I’m fascinated with your blog. We’ve been thinking that maybe we should go through a lot of our things and identify them for our children so they don’t have to go through what you are doing. Of course, it’s easy to procrastinate! Thanks for the reminding me that we have plenty to do even when we think we don’t! http://ohtheplaceswesee.com

    • I don’t even want to talk about the rest of my worklist. Wait … isn’t that what I do in this blog? But even though the list is overwhelming at times, it’s like that old saying, “how do you eat an elephant?” … one bite (and project) at a time!

  2. Priceless post. We think alike on such topics. Pressing on with my own such projects. Thank you.

  3. What a neat idea! I’ve been kicking around a post about an anniversary clock that has made its way down to us. Need hubby’s permission though, since it’s his side of the family. I always get more excited about photos and I’ve got to say, your Grandfather Baugher does look a little scary. Great picture though!

  4. Visited your Mom today and saw the toothpick – that IS wicked looking! Also didn’t know that Aunt Alma is your aunt – mom always called her that, they were neighbors – we have a swan pic that she did, it’s great!

  5. I was doing research for a collapsible vest pocket shot glass when I found your page. I have the exact same one. I don’t have any pictures yet, but on the other side is a hunting dog, right? Do you have any info on who, when, where it was made? I was thinking maybe Germany, since that’s where one side of the family came from. Bob

  6. When you say, “unadorned”, I guess you mean there is nothing on the other side? Seems strange that there would be one made with and one without the dog, since the deer side is the same. I guess there is nowhere I can upload a couple of pictures here? One of the front and then the back. I’ll just put them on my Facebook page so you can take a look.

    As far as finding out the history on family items, I should’ve done that when I had the chance! We have so much just as drawer & closet space fillers, I’ve decided it was time to start selling a lot of it on eBay.

    Yeah, I’m guessing mine is around 100 years old also

    Thanks on the reply and I’ll get them up on Facebook after I post this.

    Bob

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