Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Best Place in Town - J. J. Newberry's

On the corner of Third Street and Dakota Avenue, the busiest intersection in town, sat J. J. Newberry's Department Store.  In many ways, it was the hub of downtown - it offered a little something for everyone.  Below is the only picture I have of the store, sitting prominently on it's corner perch, probably sometime in the 1940s.

I'm not sure when Newberry's came to Huron, South Dakota, but it was before my time.  I would love to have such a store available now - where you could purchase a variety of things without breaking the bank, have some lunch, socialize over a cold coke, or just browse in a comfortable environment.

I can still see the wide staircase leading to the basement, where the toy department was, and still feel the thrill.  We didn't go there often, but it always paid off when we did.  There was a lunch counter where my little brother learned to drink out of a straw - but not before he blew through that straw as hard as he could and soaked the waiter and everyone around with splattered Coke.  And the cafeteria!  Where you could just walk the line and pick what you wanted, and there it was, immediately!  Later, when I was in Junior High, we would frequently walk there and sit in the cafeteria, boldly smoking cigarettes and drinking Coke, watching people go by through the huge glass windows in the front and side of the store.  I remember nearly spitting Coke myself when one of my cohorts exclaimed, "Look at the boobs on that old lady!" and looked up to see it was a relative of mine walking across the street.  I never did say anything...

I don't remember exactly when Newberry's closed, but I believe the building is still there, and the space has been converted to some other use.  It will always be Newberry's to me, and hold some of the best memories.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


An unidentified South Dakota family stands proudly in front of their Hupmobile on a visit to Hand County in 1926.  These cars were produced from 1909 - 1940 in Detroit, Michigan.*   

Photo from private family collection.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Many of us have one - an ancestor who was a stinker, put quite frankly.  And this can be quite a can of worms when writing and documenting our family histories.

I descend from William Nickerson, a fellow who gave the colonial government quite a run for their money back in the 1600s, and was well-documented for it.   There are amply written, unbiased sources documenting his behaviors and punishments, and it's a part of who he was.  He poses no problem for me in writing the family history - he was a character, and his own person, and no one is likely to be offended by what I write about him.

Then there's Aunt L.  She's not so far back in history, having departed this life not quite 30 years ago.  Many in the family still remember her.  She left no descendants that might be more easily offended than the rest of us.  But still, how exactly do I handle her in the family history?

She was my grandfather's aunt, and out of his own mouth come the memories of her locking he and is brothers in a dark closet and terrorizing them, and calling them names, because she hated their father.   Or all of the Christmases that the girls got gifts and the boys got nothing. One of her nieces has less than fond memories of her as well, saying that she tried to cheat their mother out of anything that she could, be it family heirlooms, inheritance, or their brother's insurance money.

My own memories are much tamer, but then, Auntie was quite a bit older by the time I knew her.  Once a year, at Christmas, we would gather at her house for a Christmas dessert and open small gifts.  She got out the family china, and spent time trying to tell us about her father and mother, and trying to show a largely (unfortunately) uninterested bunch of people about the family history.  No one, including me, seemed to care at the time.  Under that tame exterior, though, still lurked the same anger and temper that she had as a young woman.

After a bad fall, she ended up having to go into a nursing home.  She was furious.  And it was my grandfather, the same little boy she terrorized as a child, who looked after her.  He and my grandmother went to her house those last few years she lived there, and mowed the lawn, took her shopping, helped her clean, and visited with her... and in the nursing home, they went out twice a week to see her.   One particular week, they took me with them.  I was standing in the doorway when Auntie L., in a fit of rage, suddenly kicked her trash can violently out into the hallway. Two older gentlemen with walkers were approaching when the projectile shot out of her room, ricocheted on the opposite wall and came to rest in the middle of the hall.  Without missing a beat, one of them said, "Well, looks like another one kicked the bucket!"  Nursing home humor... not a great situation, but it has ended up being one of my favorite memories of Aunt L.  It was so very... her.

So, do we try to leave future generations with positive impressions of their departed family members, or do we do our best to capture them as they were, warts and all?  Should the wishes of other family members be taken into consideration, and if so, to what extent?  Do we, as family historians, respect truth, or respect the dead?  Is there a way to to both?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Thoughts on the 1880 Agricultural Schedule

A year or two ago, I checked the 1880 Agricultural Census available at for two of my Ancestors from Peoria County, Illinois: William Graves, and Lawson Lair.  While I was able to locate them and read their entries easily, the headings on the forms were nearly completely illegible – so much so that the data was meaningless.  I tried different scans from neighboring areas, and looked around the internet for a blank copy of this form, but to no avail.  I emailed Ancestry requesting a blank form, and received no answer.

Today, I tried again.  The scan has not changed in quality, unfortunately, and I still saw no link to a blank form at Ancestry.  Overall, I’m a happy Ancestry customer, but this major oversight for this database left me disappointed.  Data isn’t worth anything if you don’t know what it means.

However, eventually a Google search pointed me to a wealth of information on not only the 1880 Agricultural census, but others.  Blank forms were provided, as well as background information.  This information, in the form of a pdf, can be obtained at the government’s census website here.

The information provided by this enumeration gives a good “snapshot” of what life on the farm was like – at least during the year 1879.  Land ownership, or the nature of the rental agreement, is the first item to be addressed, progressing into how much land is both improved and unimproved.  Farm values are noted, as well as the worth of the implements and machinery owned by the farmer, so comparing to that of their neighbors, it was easy to get an idea of the financial standing of the farm relative to its neighbors. 

The details help forge a picture of the farm as it was then – was livestock raised, crops planted, or both?  Did the family keep milch cows?  Did they produce butter or cheese?   How many horses did they keep?  Did they keep poultry, and if so, how many eggs did they produce?  Sheep and Swine details were also given.

If crops were planted, what kind?  How many acres?  What was production like in that growing season?  These agricultural censuses will differ in what specific crop questions were asked, depending on region of the country.  Orchards, vineyards, and bee-keeping were also addressed.

Looking at the data for Lawson Lair, who was at the time 47 years old with a family of nine, owned an 80 acre farm just west of Princeville.  With farm values of his immediate neighbors ranging from $2,600 to $15,000, Lawson’s farm was toward the bottom at $3,200.  Interpreting this data isn’t always straightforward, however; other sources paint a different picture of Lawson, who owned property in the nearby town of Princeville, deriving a great deal of future income as a landlord.  He passed away with quite a tidy sum of money accumulated.  Had I not already known this, I might have been tempted to decide Lawson was financially compromised, based on the value of his farm.

Lawson had 4 milch cows and sold 450 gallons of milk in 1879; however, they didn’t make butter or cheese on the farm.  He had 45 head of swine, and 40 barnyard poultry which produced 125 dozen eggs over the previous year.  With his family of nine, this averages out to 3 eggs per person per week, which leads me to believe they produced eggs primarily for their own consumption. 

Regarding his crops, he grew Indian corn, potatoes, and sorghum, from which he produced 90 gallons of molasses – far more than his immediate neighbors who grew sorghum.

All in all, this was an interesting look at the 1879 picture of Lawson’s farm, and that part of his life.  The most significant piece of information I learned was that he was not as invested in his farm as I had imagined – he made his money from other means.  Previous farm schedules may paint a different picture.  Every little piece of the puzzle helps to put flesh on the bones. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

More Clues from Envelopes

I recently posted about gleaning some very helpful hints from envelopes.  After I thought I had gotten all the additional information I could from them, I was surprised once again.  I had been dealing with two addresses: 1605 Market Street and 16217 Manhattan Place, the former belonging to my great-grandparents, Pete and Ella Christensen, and the latter belonging to their son, Clarence.  After Ella’s death, when Clarence was married with a child, they traded houses, as Pete’s was a much larger home.

After having gone through most of the letters and envelopes, I realized there was a third address, 16029 Manhattan Place.  Due to the similarity to the other Manhattan Place address, I overlooked it completely.  It was an early return address for Pete and Ella Christensen in Gardena – they apparently did not move directly into their home on 1605 Market (162nd) Street.  My mother confirmed that they lived in a smaller home for a time when first moving to Gardena.

I then noticed another address: 1605 162nd St.  I was struck by the fact that the house number was the same as that of Pete and Ella’s house, but was on a letter written by Clarence’s widow in the 1960s.  Since they had traded houses with Pete, this would tend to confirm my suspicion that 162nd Street was once Market Street.

The return addresses, along with the postmarks, should help me pinpoint exactly who lived where, and when.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Working on a Box of Roots, and Overlooked Clues

It’s finally happened – I’m tired of working and cleaning around the boxes of genealogy goodies I brought up from the basement months ago.  I’m working on the many storage bins full of this and that, trying to make sure everything is scanned, and put into archival sleeves in three ring binders.  My hope is that by putting things in binders, the originals will not need to be “disturbed” nearly as much, plus, I’ll be able to find things a little more easily.  I’m finding many things that just aren’t made for a binder, so I’ll still have boxes, etc. of things, but it should be much more manageable with fewer, and well-labeled, boxes.

I’ve learned a lot this week, but first and foremost is the need to go back and review old documents with a fresh mind.  I found a number of old letters from my great-grandparents, Pete and Ella Christensen, after they moved to California in 1946.  I had these items scanned and transcribed, but decided to print out the transcription for each letter, put it in a sleeve, with the original kept in the envelope behind the transcription.   But this time, I noticed the envelopes.  Ten years ago, when I first scanned these letters, I completely overlooked their value.

As I mentioned, Pete and Ella Christensen moved to Gardena, California in 1946.  Ella passed away in 1952, and her daughter Lillian and family (of which my mother was one of the children) moved to California for a year.  For some time, I’d tried to find where their home was located, but apparently street names had been changed at some point, as Market Street was no longer shown anywhere in Gardena.  I sat down with my mother, and we attempted to find the general vicinity of the house, based on her memories of landmarks from 60 years ago – an elementary school across the street, and a church to the back of the house, but the memories were too faded to remember the names.  As one could probably predict, it wasn’t very successful.

Then came the envelopes.  As my mother recalled, Pete and Ella’s son Clarence lived a short distance from the house on Market Street, and I just happened to have a couple of letters Clarence had written with his return address on the envelope.  Luckily, Manhattan Place must not have been included when the street names were changed.  His house appeared to be on, or near the corner of Manhattan Place and 162nd Street.   We knew it was pretty much a “straight shot” to Clarence’s house from Pete and Ella’s.

I “googled” Gardena Elementary Schools, fully expecting that after 60 years, buildings would be gone and schools relocated, but one school, Denker Elementary, had been at the same site since 1932, an address on 162nd Street... the same street Clarence lived on.  Using Google Earth, I looked at these two addresses, and especially focused on the block across the street from the elementary school.  Mom remembered Pete having two lots, the lot to the back being full of fruit trees, and the church, possibly Seventh Day Adventists, was behind that lot.  Here is what I found on Google Earth:

Right above the “A” marker would have been where Pete and Ella’s house stood – there’s now a house behind it where the lot of fruit trees stood, and behind that – a Seventh Day Adventist church.  Toward the bottom of the picture, in the center, is Denker Elementary School.
I feel comfortable that this is where 1605 Market Street was located, and where my great-grandparents lived.  I tried to find information on street name changes in Gardena in the 1950s, but there’s nothing online, so I will need to get confirmation from the city by snail mail. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My Second Favorite Thing to do with my Ancestors

I love to do research.  I've been known to work on other peoples' ancestors when I hit an impasse on my own.  But I also love to see the fruits of my labor in my home in the form of photos, and particularly photo displays.  I'm not sure if my family shares my enthusiasm for this sort of decorating, but no one has complained.  Then again, I'm not sure they realize that not everyone decorates in Early American Ancestor!

I like to find common themes in grouping photographs.  This simple grouping to the right is of three brothers - the three sons of Earl and Mary Seeman.  Earl died young, and two of his sons died in middle age.  Here, they are pictured "together."


The next display is a "mother and child" theme.  The top photo is my great-great grandmother, Alfhilde Monsen with her oldest child, daughter Gabriella ("Ella.")   Alfhilde's husband, Gabriel, was a fisherman in Bergen, Norway.  One day he went off to sea, and a storm erupted.  He never returned, leaving Alfhilde to raise her three children alone, struggling to provide for them.

The middle photo is Ella and her oldest child, daughter Lillian.  Ella came to the United States at age 17 to find a better life, later sending for her mother.  She married a Danish immigrant who owned his own bakery, and they raised five children on the plains of South Dakota.

The bottom photo is Lillian with her oldest child, daughter Betty, my mother.  Lillian married a farmer, and they had four children.

If I only had another frame to match, I could have added my mother holding me, her oldest daughter.  But here, the pattern ends, regardless of how many frames I could come up with.


I love to find unusual frames, which means hunting flea markets, thrift shops, and garage sales.  Most of the time I have no idea what I'm going to do with my finds, until just the right idea presents itself.  This grouping is one of my favorites.  This standing frame holds only three photos.  I found it at a thrift shop several years ago.  The photos are of my grandmother - as a teenager, as a middle-ager, and finally, in her senior years.  I like the "snapshot" it gives of her life, and the frame itself looks like something she would have had in her own home.


With the displays above and below, I wanted to give a "nod" to our ethnicities.  Above are pictured my husband's family's generations, starting top left with an aerial photo of the family farm in Schleswig-Holstein, and below that, immigrant Hans Seemann, and moving toward right each man's son.  At top is the current generation.  I made one of these for my husband, and one for each of our sons, and I made a similar display for my husband's brother.

Below, I pay tribute to my Norwegian ancestors.  I also learned how hard it is to frame a silk flag squarely!  At the top are my great-grandparents, Andreas and Anne Larsen, pictured in an oak frame made by my father (these were his grandparents.)  To the left is their son, my grandfather Adolph, with my grandmother Agnes.  They left Norway for South Dakota in 1923, with one child and another on the way.  Agnes died at age 48, and Adolph then married his childhood friend in Norway, Lisa, and she joined him in the United States in 1952.  The are pictured at right.  This display honors both of my "grandmothers."


I had two wedding frames, and wanted to put the black and white wedding photo of my in-laws in one, but was at a loss about how to use the other one.  I decided to print a black and white copy of one of our wedding photos, in as similar a pose as I could to that of my in-laws.  This is the result. 


This is a common type of frame - the Tree.  I wanted to do something different with two of the tree frames I have, and I printed pictures of all of the "Grandmas" for them.   I am using these "Grandma Trees" to teach my granddaughters about the women of their heritage.  The five year old knows most of their names, 13 in all, and a little snippet of something interesting about each one.  

I had another tree frame that was reversible, and I made a gift for my daughter-in-law.  Her photo was at the top of the tree, with her mother below, grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother after that.  The reverse side held photos of each of her five children.

I hope you've enjoyed these ideas, and I would love to hear (and see) what you've done with your old family photos.  If you have blogged about this, please put the URL in a comment box below. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Oh, teacup!  You've sat in the china hutch so long I can't even remember where you came from.  Probably a garage sale or a flea market somewhere, maybe the last remaining pieces of someone's grand collection from way back when.

I know so little about you, only that you came into being in early 1942, a time of turmoil for our country and just about every family in it.  You were once someone's brand new prized possession; she looked at you and marveled over the soft beige china and the delicate soft pink, yellow, orange and purple flowers nestled among the olive-green leaves.

How many cups of steaming coffee did you hold in the last 70+ years?  How many pieces of delicious gossip were you privy to between the neighbor ladies?  Did she fill you with aromatic tea, as I have today, and quietly ponder life as you commiserated with her?

How did you and she part company?  Were you passed on to a thrilled and grateful daughter or granddaughter?  Were you among family heirlooms at an estate sale?  Were you treasured every step of the way between she and I?

We enjoyed a tranquil and contemplative time together this morning, you and I, something we'll have to do more often.  And soon I will introduce my own granddaughters to the simple pleasure of good tea in a beautiful old cup.  Thank you.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Dr. J. Bruce Annis, Huron Chiropractor

I love looking at the small details in old photos.  I scan them at 600 dpi, and take a close look at the little things one would ordinarily miss.  Last night, I came across a large scan of the I.O.O.F. Building in Huron, South Dakota that I didn't realize I had.  The item is of interest to me, as my great grandfather owned the Bell Bakery located in that building (ground floor, right hand side), and this is the best view I have of his store at the time he owned it.

There's a grocery on the ground floor next to the bakery, which I will be writing about in the future, and on the second floor there is an engineer, a dentist, and I presume the office of Dr. J. Bruce Annis, Chiropractor. His sign hangs between the two ground floor businesses, near the doorway to the building, just under the I.O.O.F. in the center.  The photo dates to somewhere between 1914 and 1920; Dr. Annis' office was in another location in 1913, and the grocery store's location was taken over by the Lyric Theater, construction of which started in 1920.

J. Bruce Annis was born in 1879 in Grant Center, Michigan to Hiram C. Annis and his wife Eva McCrea.  The father was came from Canada, crossing the border in 1875.  In 1883, Hiram took on a homestead in Altoona township, Beadle County, South Dakota.  They had two sons; Neil was the publisher of the Hitchcock News-Leader, and J. Bruce became a chiropractor.  Hiram died in 1926, and his wife in 1931.

 Dr. Annis, then 34, married 19 year old Ella Schutt, daughter of Charles F. & Otillia (Spring) Schutt at Davenport, Iowa on April 2, 1913.  His practice was initially located at 640 3rd St., and sometime between 1913 and 1916 moved to the I.O.O.F. Building.  At one time he partnered with Mellbye, and at another time with Stout, but for the most part was in business independently.  Toward the later years of his practice, Dr. Annis moved the business to the K.of P. building; he worked at least into 1948.   His wife was a homemaker in her earlier years, then worked as a hairdresser and finally as a saleswoman at Habichts Department store.  The couple did not appear to have any children.

Dr. Annis died in Beadle county on March 28, 1954.  His wife died in Rapid City in 1972.

"Frame by Frame in Huron."   Wm. Lampe.
Huron City Directories: 1913, 1916, 1918, 1920, 1924, 1926, 1928, 1930, 1931-32, 1934, 1936, 1945, 1948.
United States Federal Censuses: 1920, 1930, 1940.
Social Security Death Index, entry for Ella Annis.
The Huronite and the Daily Plainsman, Friday, July 9, 1948.
The Huronite and the Daily Plainsman, Thursday, July 10, 1952
The Huronite and the Daily Plainsman, Wednesday, November 3, 1948
The Evening Huronite, Tuesday, July 27, 1948
The Evening Huronite, Tuesday, June 9, 1931
The Evening, Huronite, Thursday, June 11, 1931
South Dakota State Archives, Cemetery Records Search
Iowa, County Marriages, 1838-1934 (

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Loren E. Slocum - Life Underground

Loren E. Slocum
Loren E. Slocum

      It was 1909 when the stranger rode into Faith, South Dakota on horseback, pulling an Indian-style travois behind him.  Acquiring a farm three miles from town, he went about the work of constructing an abode - underground - a lifestyle he would maintain for the next 40+ years.

    Loren Slocum built his underground dugout for reasons of solitude as well as economy.  "God placed me there for important discoveries," he said, also noting, "I live underground because I'm too poor to survive above it.  If I had a shack, I'd have to keep it up and I don't have the money for that."  His 100 acres of land was devoid of any buildings, and his home was marked by a three-foot smoke pipe protruding through the earth, a trap door leading downward, and an old wood stove above-ground that he used for cooking during the summer months.

    Inside his 5 x 8 dugout, he had few belongings and slept on rough boards as a bed.  Critics were put in their place by Slocum, who argued, "Some people have said my dugout isn't healthy, but I've lived underground for 40 years and I'm still here and those others have been dead a long time."

    He made his living from his "old age pension" during the winter, and by raising vegetables in the summer, and had in fact acquired some fame as a gardener.  He won prizes from a physical culture magazine in 1928 for articles on the value of uncooked vegetables in the diet.  In that respect, he was apparently a man ahead of his time.

    He refused the label of "hermit," noting that he walked three miles per day into the nearby town of Faith.  He did not marry, and other than "kin" he mentioned in either Artesian or Alcester, he was alone.  A New York native who was born about 1871, he was not found (at least not easily) in any censuses prior to 1920.

    While friends and neighbors desired to help him , he refused, saying, "I'm old enough to take care of myself."  He was 80 years old when his friends finally convinced him that his health was not good enough to survive another South Dakota winter underground, and he moved to a nursing home in Sturgis.  He died months later on November 26, 1950, at the age of 80.

Richard Soash.  Original newspaper clipping.  Unnamed and undated newspaper.  4 Mar. 2013.
Austin Daily Herald [Austin, Minnesota] November 27 1950, 2. Web. 6 Mar. 2013.
"Likes To Live Underground." Hutchinson News-Herald [Hutchinson, Kansas] February 16 1950, 13.
"20 Years in a Hole." Evening Independent [Massillon, Ohio] September 09 1935, 3. Web. 6 Mar. 2013. South Dakota Death Index, 1905-1955 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.
Year: 1920; Census Place:  Faith, Meade, South Dakota; Roll:  T625_1723; Page:  5A; Enumeration District:  133; Image:  579.
Year: 1930; Census Place:  Township 12, Meade, South Dakota; Roll:  2227; Page:  1A; Enumeration District:  108; Image:  941.0; FHL microfilm:  2341961.
Year: 1940; Census Place: Faith, Meade, South Dakota; Roll: T627_3862; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 47-9

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

When Opportunity Knocks, You Have to Open the Window

"When opportunity knocks, you have to open the window," a friend of mine used to say.  We enjoyed her inadvertent twisting of old sayings, but many times I've thought this goofed-up cliché was sometimes appropriate for family history.

Every so often we stumble upon that stubborn ancestor who refuses to “open the front door” for us - it is difficult to find any direct information on their families.  And then, those open windows, no matter how small they are, become all the more important.  Tonight, Uncle Soren opened up another window for me, when my Grandpa Pete wouldn’t open the front door.

This is not the first time Uncle Soren opened a window.  I’d researched Grandpa Pete before, using the few facts I knew about him – he was a baker, born in Dostrop, Denmark, and owned his own bakery for a number of years before selling out to purchase a farm.  I had his wedding photo, as well as a small photo of an older woman named Elsie Ericksen, said to be his mother, standing with a younger looking man that was her second husband.  They lived in Omaha.  I had some of Pete’s siblings names.  There were lots of bakers in the family, the younger men learning from the older men.  End of story.

The name “Peter Christensen” must be the “John Smith” of Danish names.  I had discovered information about Grandpa Pete, as well as his wife and children, but finding anything on his family of origin was much more difficult.    Enter Uncle Soren, Pete’s younger brother.  I determined to find out all I could about Pete’s siblings, hoping I would then be able to learn something of their parents.  I hit paydirt with Soren.  I found him in the 1920 census, living with “Gents” and Elsie Ericksen in Omaha’s 3rd Ward.  “Gents” was 49 and worked for the railroad; his wife Elsie was 60, and Soren was listed as “stepson” and worked as a baker.  I followed Soren in subsequent censuses, and collected all documentation I could find on him.  He had continued in the bakery business and lived the rest of his life with his wife Agnes in a home on Pinkney St. in Omaha.  This matched an entry in my grandmother’s address book for “Aunt Agnes” on Pinkney St. so I knew I was on the right trail.  But the trail of “Gents” and Elsie went cold after 1920.

Back to Grandpa Pete.  I was doing some research on his bakery, “Bell Bakery” in Huron, South Dakota, and found his entry in the Huron City Directory of 1911.  He was single at the time and lived in a room above the bakery.  However, two entries down, I found a much unexpected listing for Soren Christensen, an employee of Bell Bakery, also rooming above the bakery.  Uncle Soren!! 

Several hours later, I had succeeded in finding Uncle Soren on two ship manifests.  I’m still sorting out the details, but it appears Pete paid his passage from Denmark and apprenticed him in the bakery business, and then Soren went back to Denmark and brought his mother and stepfather back.  Between the information supplied on these two ship manifests, I’ve learned several things:

1) The sister we only knew as Christina was named Kristine Nielsen and she lived in Hobro.

2) Grandpa Pete had paid Soren’s passage to the U.S., and provided him with a ticket as far as Tyler, Minnesota, where Pete would meet him.  Soren was just 14 at the time.

Once again, Uncle Soren has come through for me.    While Grandpa Pete helped open the door to a new life in the United States for his family, Uncle Soren has been opening windows to the past.  Someday, I hope to get the opportunity to thank him.

Graphic courtesy of Rob Krause and stock.xchng (

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday - The Doily Box, Part 6

Some really nice items in this week's installment -

I loved this "swirl" pattern so much I started a bedspread from a similar pattern ten years ago.  I'm still working on it... not very diligently, obviously.    But I love this doily!

I like the shape of this doily, reminds me of something you'd set a butter dish on.

Someone did a lovely job on this dresser scarf.  The picture does not do the embroidery justice, and the crocheted border is so vibrant and lively!

And one of my very favorite sets from the Doily Box - 

This is probably a couch set, with the two birds in the center for the back of the couch and the two smaller birds on either side for the arms.  It blows my mind that anyone would want to sell this, but I'm always willing to give an orphaned doily a good home!  Below, a close up of the larger piece -

 Thanks for sticking with me through all these doilies!  There may be more later.  :)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday - The Doily Box, Part 5

A few more...

What you can do with a plain piece of linen and some thread...

And below, a dresser scarf from a garage sale.

The embroidery is done very heavily both on this bird, and on the fronds of the plant above it.  I have no idea how old this item is, but the embroidery on the tail still feels very thick and luxurious to the touch.

A simple pattern, but I love the colors.

I love this intricate pattern.

Having made a similar doily, with all the beautiful daisies around the border, I know how much work went into this.  Beautiful job, Unknown Crocheter!

I have a particular weakness for vintage crocheted potholders, and this one from a yard sale found a new home with me.

That's it for this week!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday - The Doily Box, Part 4

For those of you who are still with me, thank you!

Nothing fancy, but I do like the square look of this doily.

Another garage sale find, and they came as a set.  Perhaps a plate mat and coaster?

Another vintage purple doily.  If it's purple, I'll buy it!

I think this creation is to be used as a doily - obviously done from a "cutter quilt" with a crocheted edging.  Too thick for a dishcloth, not thick enough for a potholder.  Looking at the points of the stars, it makes me wonder if those pieces were made from another quilt. (A quilt made from a cutter quilt, which was made into whatever this is)

I do love doilies like this - intricate (and labor intensive).  Someone put a lot of love into this.

This is unusual - about 10" high.  I found it at a garage sale, and had never seen anything like it before, so I had to have it.  

Guess what?  That's right, there's more.  I told you this was a big box!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Christmas Walnuts

Before Christmas, I was thrilled to find unshelled mixed nuts at not one, but two local grocery stores.  I hadn't seen them in a number of years, and remembering how much fun my youngest son and I had feeding them to the neighborhood squirrels, I bought several pounds of them.  But looking at the walnuts brought back memories even further back, of "helping" my grandma make the prettiest decorations for her Christmas tree.

I could not have been more than five or six years old when Grandma Lill sat me down at the dining room table with a stack of walnuts, a paintbrush and a cup of thinned-down glue, and several packets of pretty glitter!  We never got glitter at home, and rarely got it at Grandma's, as there were always little sparklies of glitter to be found around the house months afterward, no matter how thorough the cleanup seemed to be.  But this time was an exception.  Grandpa Bill had put a metal hanger into the top of each walnut, and Grandma "painted" them with the glue, and I sprinkled glitter on them.  To my knowledge, the one pictured above is the only one of these ornaments to have survived that wonderful afternoon almost 50 years ago.

So one day last week, I went about putting gold ornament hangers into the walnuts, and gluing them in place with craft glue.  This morning I did the fun part - sprinkling them with glitter - gold, silver, red, green, blue, and a shimmering opalescent.  My husband may roll his eyes, but I think next year we're going to have a Christmas tree decorated with sparkly walnuts.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday - The Doily Box, Part 3

 Another installment of The Doily Box!

I love any sort of doily that's out of the ordinary, and this neat "square in a square" design is right up my alley.  I'd love to find the pattern.  Below is a similar doily in variegated thread.

I have no idea what to say about this.  The significance of the two pineapples at the top of the doily are intriguing... any ideas?

Here is one I made - I like traditional patterns with bold colors.  Something different.

Someone had a lot of patience to makes all these small flower motifs...

The embroidery on this vintage dresser scarf really caught my eye.  It's done with a heavier, twisted thread, and has an almost "relief" feel to it.

I saved my favorite, at least for this post, for last.  I love crocheted butterflies!  And this one is large - about 24 inches across, likely made for the back of a sofa.  I found it at a garage sale.  It's a little frayed in one spot, but I don't know why anyone in their right mind would want to get rid of such a beautiful piece!  And the previous owners were probably wondering why anyone in their right mind would want to BUY such a thing!  

But wait... there's more... next week!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday - The Doily Box, Part 2

More from the Doily Box:

This doily, old and tattered and stained as it is, is one of my favorites.  It was made by my great-grandmother, Elvirta Knutz.  I don't know when she made it, but I remember seeing it on my grandmother's couch when I was young, and my grandmother gave it to me when I moved into my first home back in the 1970s.

Here's another garage sale find.  I love the colors!

Who remembers silver asbestos mats?  I picked these up from a garage sale.  My grandmother had similar ones on her kitchen table, and it was a *big* deal to get to pick out a new cover and put it on for her.  Note the Good Housekeeping seal on the back of this mat - a little ironic, knowing what we know today about asbestos!

More to come~

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday - The Doily Box, Part 1

I've heard it said that you can't keep everything.  I'm living proof that it's not true!  However, there comes a point in every packrat's life where she has to start looking at her stuff with a critical eye.  This morning, it was my "Doily Box," which was overflowing with "who knows what."  Here are a few highlights of what I found:

This cute little hand-embroidered napkin holder is something I picked up at an auction sale in Princeville, Illinois.  It has family significance for me, as the lady who did the embroidery is a distant relative, Eloise Bliss Graves.  Her husband, Leo Graves, was a second cousin to my grandfather; I don't think they had seen each other since the 1940s.  What wonderful timing that I was in Illinois at the same time they were holding their auction!

I got this beautiful embroidered card-table cloth at a garage sale, a frequent source of the things in my Doily Box.  I look at these items and wonder about the woman who created them.  Did she fall asleep at night designing her next project, as I so often do?  When did she do her crafting?  As she watched her children play?  While she was watching television or listening to the radio?  Was she a farm wife, or did she live in town?  I love the history of these items as much as I enjoy the items themselves, but most of the time the history is lost.

And one final item for this post - lovely embroidered flowers gently swaying in the warm summer breeze.  A welcome thought on a cold winter day!