When I taught genealogy classes I often spoke about the clues that our family heirlooms can provide us about our ancestors if we take the time to look. If we are lucky, the item is labeled with the maker’s name which helps identify, date, and place the item but if it isn’t labeled, there are other ways to identify it. This cake stand was handed down from my Great-Grandmother to my Grandmother to my Mother to me. It has what the television show Antiques Roadshow calls provenance, a chronology of ownership. But I really wanted to prove that it had belonged to my Great-Grandmother because family stories can change as they are passed down through the family. I knew the pattern of the glass might give a clue as to how old it was. My Great-Grandmother, Emma, was born in 1856 in southern Indiana and was married in 1874 in the same area. After researching a bit I found out that this glass pattern is called Dewdrop with Star. The pattern has small pointed hobnails known as dewdrops and the points of a star are formed on the base with these hobnails. I discovered that the pattern was introduced by Campbell, Jones & Company in 1877. This company was in business from 1865-1886 so the time period was correct for it to have been in the household of my Great-Grandmother Emma. To add icing on the cake, Emma’s husband, Joseph, died in 1880 and when I was looking at his 1880 probate file, I found his Estate Inventory and lo and behold, there was a cake stand mentioned!
In the left column, the last line on this page lists a cake stand.
So by identifying the age of the cake stand and the property that was in Emma’s household, I have two strong pieces of circumstantial evidence that the story is correct. The cake stand probably did belong to my Great-Grandmother, Emma Pruitt.
This is an antique silver spoon known as coin silver (needs a bit more polishing). The term is used to describe American silver flatware and hollowware made before 1870 that is not sterling. Coin silver is about 90% silver, the silver content is about 2.5% less than sterling. Coin silver is about 10% copper. This spoon was handed down in my family, I received it from my mother. I was told that it belonged to my Great-Great-Great-Grandmother, Phebe Putnam and the engraved initials are P. P. so that matches but I wanted to find additional information that might help prove that it belonged to Phebe. Phebe was born in 1789 in New York State and lived most of her life near Batavia in Genesee County, New York where she died in 1862. She was married about 1805.
Fortunately, the back of the coin silver spoon is engraved with a maker’s name and mark. I searched for some time for information about this silversmith but was unsuccessful. I decided to search old newspapers online from the place and time period of Phebe’s life. (I use old newspapers frequently when doing genealogical research, they have a wealth of information.) I found the following advertisement in an 1830 Batavia, New York newspaper.
So on May 27, 1830, S. McCain was advertising his products including “Silver spoons , made and kept constantly for sale” in the Batavia newspaper near where Phebe lived. Strong circumstantial evidence that he made Phebe’s spoon and it did belong to her.
This is called a Ruby Stained Souvenir cup, they were popular from about 1880-1910. It belonged to my grandmother, Joanna, and for years I did research to try to determine what club or group she belonged to in San Bernardino in 1909 that used the initials A. Y. P.. I knew she married Willis Leonard in December 1909 but I assumed it was a club or group of some kind. I wasn’t having any luck so recently I decided to do a google search and lo and behold, it is not a club or group, it stands for Alaska Yukon Pacific. The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition took place in Seattle, Washington from June 1 to September 16, 1909. It’s possible that Joanna or someone she knew bought the cup there. After their wedding, Joanna and Willis left on a 6 weeks wedding trip through the Eastern and Southern U. S.. A 1909 San Bernardino newspaper article mentioned their wedding and trip.
I am wondering if they also went to Seattle and bought the cup there. I inherited a collection of several sterling silver souvenir spoons that Joanna bought on their wedding trip. While writing this I checked that collection and found the following spoon.
This is a souvenir spoon also from the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition.
So I don’t know for sure but I suspect Willis and Joanna may have also visited Seattle during their travels and bought the cup and spoon there after the Exposition had ended.
This is an autograph album that belonged to my grandmother Joanna Pruitt Leonard before her marriage. Autograph albums were popular during the Civil War and their popularity lasted until the early 20th century. These albums can provide many clues for genealogists depending on who signed the album and what they wrote.
This is the first page of the album. Joanna’s name is in it with the date and where she was at the time. So we know she was in Kelly, New Mexico on that date although we don’t know for sure that she was living there. This may have been a birthday present because it was her 6th birthday.
This page provides a clue as to members of Joanna’s extended family, her cousin Matie Clark signed the album.
Another cousin signed this page with the same surname, Vivian V. Clark, still in Kelly, New Mexico but a year later. So Joanna may have been living there during those years.
To do genealogical research all you need is a name, a date, and a place. Autograph albums and family heirlooms can provide that information in many different ways to help with your search.
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