Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: What Family Heirlooms Did You Inherit or Obtain?

Randy Seaver’s topic this week for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun is the survey question from the weekly (Wednesdays) NEHGS newsletter.

1)  The NEHGS Weekly Genealogy newsletter asked an interesting question this week – let’s use it for our SNGF this week.

2)  What “family heirlooms” did you inherit or obtain?  What are your most cherished possessions that were owned or created by an ancestor or relative?  They could be photographs, letters or documents, a diary, an audio or video recording, books, jewelry, clothing, quilts, needlework, drawing or painting, toy or doll, collectibles, musical instrument, furniture, something else?

Being the family genealogist/historian for the family, I have been lucky to inherit many sentimental items from both sides of the family.

Here are some of the items I can remember off the top of my head:

Mom’s side of the family:
Grandmother’s prized watch
Set of china passed from my great grandmother’s sister, to great grandmother to grandmother to me
Several sterling silver tea items
Tole painted trays done by Grandmother
Needlepoint work done by Aunt Barbara
Many old family photos dating back to my 4X great grandparents who were each children of Loyalists – Thomas Adams and Sarah Brawn
Family photos from Grandfather’s Aunt Pearl, along with his cousin’s baby album and WWII military records
Rocking chair belonging to my 2X great grandmother, Nellie Tarbox Adams
Address/Telephone book dating to the 1940s for family and friends
1916 wedding album for Aunt Pearl with original signatures of family members
Original land deed with my 2X great grandmother’s signature
Kennedy half dollar dated 1964, one of several that Ted Kennedy gave to my grandfather when he retired from the Western Union in 1964
Few items of costume jewelry

Dad’s side of the family:
Original baptismal certificates for both grandparents, which gave the Slovak village origins of my grandfather’s family
Many family photos, including great grandparents in Europe
Nana’s prayer books and cards, some in English and some in Slovak
Family letters from Slovakia, dating from the 1920s

Nana’s furniture went to a second cousin, who lived back east and could transport it home. Furniture was mostly from the 1920s and 1930s.

Although none of these items is valuable in terms of dollars, they are irreplaceable in terms of family history and connecting with my ancestors.

Thanks, Randy, for this week’s challenge.

2 thoughts on “Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: What Family Heirlooms Did You Inherit or Obtain?”

  1. What a great list! The item that jumped out at me was “Tole painted trays done by Grandmother.” My grandmother, who lived in the Albany, N.Y. area, also tole painted on tin, glass and wood — trays, ginger jars, boxes, reverse-painted mirrors, lazy Susans for the table, and more. And she was in a guild and taught tole painting as well. My siblings, their families and I have all inherited pieces. This is the first I’ve heard of someone else’s grandmother engaged in the same art form. Thanks for posting!

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