Mabel In the Market: The Search for the 1920’s Doughnut Shop {Part 2}

I’ve never played hide and seek with a city or a ghost before. But that’s exactly what I did with Mabel in Seattle. I was on a mission to find my great-grandmother’s doughnut shop, which according to family lore, was located in Pike Place Market sometime between the years of 1922 and 1940.

Mabel in 1907; Pike Place Market sign in 2017

If this were a movie, I’d find her by doughnut crumb trail.  I’d hop off the plane with weeks of research in hand, pop over to the market and seek out the very spot where Mabel,  my school teacher-trained, Iowa native, Seattle transplant great-grandmother would have rolled out daily stacks of doughnuts during the early 20th century.

I’d scurry through market hallways and stallways…

Pike Place Market Stairs

passing sign after sign…

until I reached my moment of satisfaction. The final destination…

… actual proof, at long-last,  that my Mabel’s place of productivity was here and that her baking legacy survived in these doughnuts still being prepared and displayed in the same way she would have made them 100 years ago…

But this is not a movie and the trail of this baking mystery did not roll out so smoothly. I did go to Seattle and I did go to the market. And I did discover Mabel. Just not exactly the way I thought I would.

As it turns out Mabel just might be the biggest fan of hide and seek I’ve ever known.  She popped in and out of this whole adventure playing her game of come find me in the most superlative of ways.

Before I left for Seattle I had trouble locating any supporting documents that would pin Mabel down in the market. I searched for weeks, trying all sorts of different avenues leading from Seattle to Iowa and back to Seattle again, hoping for a picture, a newspaper article, a copy of a market receipt, a letter home to her family… any small detail that would mention a doughnut or a day stall.   I came up empty handed on all fronts except for a picture I found of her sister Katie with whom Mabel was close…

Hello to Katie!

Taken around 1900, this was a great new addition to the family photo collection. We don’t have any pictures of Mabel’s seven sisters taken while they were young. Katie has no connection to Seattle or to the market that I know of yet but it was encouraging, a good luck sign, perhaps to see the sisterly face of someone who was so important and so close to Mabel.

Back to the market mission,  I was hoping that research helpers at pikeplacemarket.org would be more successful combing their city directories and market archives. They too tried all possible avenues on their end. Had there been a shop name or a specific date things would have been, could have been easier.  Working on it up until the eleventh hour we were communicating back and forth about potential scenarios and information but valid, concrete documentation would elude us both in the end. Mentions of Mabel in the market were nowhere to be found.

It wasn’t all disappointment at this stage though. Mabel came through in another way. A better way actually then documents and even doughnuts. She came to me in the form of dishes…

Dating to early 1900, this is Mabel’s antique flow blue china made by W.H. Grindley in the Portman pattern which had been stacked away, unbeknownst to me, in my sister’s house for years.  How exciting! Dishes that Mabel actually touched in her daily life and that survived her 1,800 mile journey from Iowa to Washington. I could just imagine one of her lovely little doughnuts sitting on this plate. Like her sister’s portrait this was a more delicate and intimate side of Mabel then I ever hoped for. A tangible piece of history and a part of her that I could carry with me back home.

Even though there was no factual info to be had about Mabel’s market days my sisters and I  headed to Pike Place anyway to see if some visual clues might strike us.

We saw fish and flowers, pigs and produce, wall murals and a great busker band. We even saw a real-life Hobart, an invention we blogged about back in May. ( I think I was the only one standing in line at this vendor that was more excited about seeing the mixer then the menu offerings).

But there were no signs of Mabel.  We commiserated over grilled cheese sandwiches and doughnuts on the wharf and talked over the possibility that perhaps Mabel just worked at a doughnut shop instead of owned one. Maybe the family story got muddled and misdirected over time. Maybe Mabel was a cog in the wheel instead of the actual wheel.

We left the farmers market feeling satisfied with food but not with family history. The search continued. Questions were still unanswered.

Further investigations led us out to the suburbs where Mabel popped up again. This time in the form of a house with a big garden yard – the place where she lived for a time in the 1950’s.  And we saw her again in two churches that were built by her only child Philip, just outside of Seattle…

Those three places didn’t provide any new clues but they did suggest a new possibility. What if Mabel made so many doughnuts at the market and on such a large scale that she never wanted to look or think or talk about another doughnut again? What if, when she moved out to the suburbs in 1940, she was done with doughnuts completely? What if that is the reason the family stories never stretched farther than the market mention?

On the last day of my trip, after I made peace with the fact that I would not discover any new information about this family story for the immediate time being,  Mabel sent out a consolation prize.  While doing a little antique shopping, my sister found an old cookbook from 1902 with a woman who looked a little like Mabel on the cover…

Flipping through it look what recipe I found on page 256…

Iowa doughnuts! A recipe from Mabel’s home state nestled in with a whopping 13 other recipes for the willing doughnut maker.  What are the chances of finding such a time appropriate cookbook with such a specific and applicable recipe?  To make this find even more Mabel-fied the inside cover of the cookbook was stamped with the name and address of the previous owner. And guess, dear readers, where that previous owner lived?

The small town where Mabel had her big garden yard and where her son built two churches!

What, really, are the chances of that? Seattle is a big city and the suburbs are dense and bubbling places. The antique shop where we found the cookbook was far from the town where Mabel lived and where her son built the churches. Not every state in the cookbook got its own doughnut recipe (only Iowa and Nebraska). And after almost fifteen years of antique collecting I’ve never come across this specific cookbook before. All signs pointed to Mabel and the magically meant to be.

So even though I didn’t exactly find out all the information I was looking for heading into this trip, I feel like I got to know Mabel so much more than just being able to reiterate some facts and dates. I touched (and took home!) dishes that she herself touched.  I saw the first-time face of her sister.  I saw the house of her senior years and I stood before two big buildings that her son built. And the icing on the doughnut is the found cookbook; owned by a person who lived in the same town as her; and that contains an obscure recipe from her home state for a sweet treat that eventually bore her business. That’s a tidy little package.

The hunt for her market days info is far from over and this story doesn’t yet come full circle but it does come full-spirit. When we eventually solve this mystery of Mabel in the market there might just be a movie style ending. Stay tuned for new updates as the research continues. In the meantime if you missed Part One of this post catch up here.

Cheers to all the “spirited” storytellers out there.

The Connection Between Kelly Clarkson and Ms. Jeannie

This past Tuesday marked the return of one of Ms. Jeannie’s most favorite shows…

Who Do You Think You Are on Tuesday nights at on TLC

Who Do You Think You Are on Tuesday nights on TLC

Now in its fourth season, Who Do You Think You Are is the pet project of actress Lisa Kudrow (from Friends fame) that follows celebrities as they trace and discover their own roots. Ms. Jeannie loves this show because everyone can learn from it – regardless if you are famous or not, everybody follows the same format.  You have to look back in order to look forward.

Lots of different types of celebrities from film stars (Susan Sarandon), to sports figures (Emmit Smith) to singers (Lional Ritchie) to comedians (Chris Rock) to models (Brooke Shields) have been featured on past episodes.

This week it was singer Kelly Clarkson, who Ms. Jeannie realized she actually had a few things in common with.  This is the trailer for Kelly’s episode…

http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/who-do-you-think-you-are/videos/kelly-clarkson-video.htm

Kelly’s great, great, great grandfather, Isiah,  was a Civil War soldier from Ohio who fought for the Union side. Ms. Jeannie’s great, great grandfather was also a Civil War soldier from Ohio who fought for the Union side…

Ms. Jeannie's great great grandfather Albert

Ms. Jeannie’s great, great grandfather Albert (1840-1921)

Kelly’s ancestor fought in the war for four years. He was captured and taken prisoner by the Confederate soldiers and sent to a prison camp in Andersonville, Georgia.  Ms. Jeannie’s great, great grandfather also served for four years and fought in battles all over the Southeast – his last one was very close to Andersonville, GA and it was there that he suffered trauma to his eyes.

The prison camp at Andersonville was awful – holding over 40,000 soldiers in a barracked field open to the elements and left to their own devices for toiletry, food and shelter.

Camp configuration at Andersonville. Photo courtesy of mihp.org

Camp configuration at Andersonville. Photo courtesy of mihp.org

Andersonville Prison. Photo courtesy of old-picture.com

Andersonville tents. Photo courtesy of old-picture.com

Union soldier held at Andersonville Prison.

Union soldier held at Andersonville Prison.

Men were walking skeletons from mal-nourishment and disease, they were angry from being confined, and they were exhausted from fighting the war and then fighting to survive in a prison camp. Andersonville is the United States version of Holocaust camps in Germany. There was no regard for human dignity or for human life. Men were thrown together en masse and left to fend for themselves.  Over 13,000 soldiers died in camp at Andersonville during the Civil Wa,r and now the park serves as a memorial to the bravery of lost victims.  Thankfully Kelly’s great, great, great grandfather escaped the prison confines and re-introduced himself to civilian society. He carried on with strength and determination to lead a long and fruitful life.

Ms. Jeannie’s great, great  grandfather mustered out of the Civil War cavalry after his eye trauma in 1865. He went home to Ohio to collect his sweetheart, Martha, who lived in a neighboring county in Indiana…

Albert's wife, Martha. Ms. Jeannie's great, great grandmother.

Albert’s wife, Martha. Ms. Jeannie’s great, great grandmother.

A month and a half later, in the summer of 1865, they married at Martha’s parents home in Johnson County, Indiana, and the very next day, they embarked via covered wagon on a journey to Iowa. Martha’s parents accompanied them.  Ms. Jeannie can only imagine what kind of “honeymoon” this was!  During the month and a half-long  trip, Martha made this quilt, which you might recall from a previous post…

Martha's churn dash style quilt, which Ms. Jeannie now keeps.

Martha’s churn dash style quilt, which Ms. Jeannie now keeps.

Martha made this quilt so that she would have a bed covering once they reached their new home in Iowa. It would be a reminder of their journey across country and also a symbolic token for the beginning of their marriage.  By the time this blanket was created, Albert, 24,  had seen all sorts of horrendous acts at war, he had defended his country, he had fought for his beliefs. Martha was a young bride, 18, leaving the only life she had ever known in Indiana to travel thousands of miles across country to begin anew. Neither knew Iowa nor what lay ahead for them.  They simply set out and hoped for the best.  Like Kelly Clarkson said in this past episode ” These are brave choices, made at this time – all these men and women.”

Kelly’s great, great, great grandfather went on eventually to serve a seat in the House Senate. Ms. Jeannie’s great, great grandfather also went on to a career in the public arena.  When he and Martha reached Iowa, they staked their claim in Vinton where they became farmers and eventually, Albert,  became the town clerk and justice of the peace, a position he held for 25 years. He and Martha became parents to 11 children – 9 of whom lived to see their adult years…

Martha and Albert, center, at their 50th wedding anniversary with their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren by their sides.

Martha and Albert, center, at their 50th wedding anniversary with their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren by their sides.

Albert died in 1921 at the age of 80. Martha died in 1929 at the age of 82. Ms. Jeannie is so thrilled that there are two pieces in her family to remember them by.  The quilt from Martha and this civil war ink well from Albert…

Albert's inkwell that he carried with him throughout the Civil War.

Albert’s inkwell that he carried with him throughout the Civil War.

Both items are warm and hopeful pieces and Ms. Jeannie just loves that. Martha’s quilt kept the two of them warm for years. Albert’s inkwell may have aided in letters home while he was away at war. There is no documentation in Ms. Jeannie’s family of anything written using ink from this inkwell, but Ms. Jeannie thinks something special must have come from this font in order for it to have been passed down through the family for all these years. It could have been something as simple as an “I Love You” from Albert’s hand to his parents, James and Nancy in Ohio or a sweet “wait for me – I’m coming soon” sentiment to Martha in Indiana. Either way it was a valued vessel.

Kelly ends the episode by returning to Nashville and reporting to her mom all that she uncovered on her genealogy adventure. “Now we know…” she said to her mom. ” This is in our blood.”  This is what makes this show, and genealogy in turn,  so great. It is in your face history that has directly affected your life.   Had there never been Isiah there would never be Kelly and had there never been Albert there never would be Ms. Jeannie. And while we can’t sit down and have a face to face conversation with these past generations, we still know them, because we are them.

We are all, a lot more related then we realize!

Who Do You Think You Are airs every Tuesday night at 9:00pm (eastern) on TLC. Next week, it’s the actress Christina Applegate. If you are a fan of the show, please comment below, Ms. Jeannie would love to hear your thoughts.

Storytime (and a Challenge!) with Ms. Jeannie: How Old Photographs Can Spark The Imagination!

When Ms. Jeannie first started doing her genealogy research, the holy grail of success for her was finding the faces of her ancestors. She worked close to a year before she uncovered any. Ironically, that first photo that opened up the pictorial floodgates, was right under her nose… in an album Ms. Jeannie’s mom had forgotten about in the back of a closet!

The day Ms. Jeannie looked at the face of her great great grandmother Martha, for the first time, she was so overcome with emotion, she cried!

The first picture of great great grandmother Martha

The first picture of great great grandmother Martha (on right)

Silly but true. Ms. Jeannie is not really the weepy kind, after all. Anyway, she just got caught up in the moment.  All those months of researching Martha’s  life  – her 11 kids, her journey in covered wagon from Indiana to Ohio to Iowa, her husband’s military service in the Civil War, her farm life in Iowa… all those details rolling around Ms. Jeannie’s head for all that time. And then suddenly – there was Martha!  There was the shape of her face, the evidence of glasses, the style of her hair.

Since then, through help from online forums like ancestry.com and genealogy.com and the kindness of sharers, Ms, Jeannie has found handfuls of family photos. Her family.  Spread out over many trees, many lines and many countries. These are some of the more recent finds…

Great Grand Aunt Anna's house in Iowa

Great Grand Aunt Anna’s house in Iowa

Great Great Grandfather Albert

Great Great Grandfather Albert

Fourth Great Grandparents Maria & Garret

Fourth Great Grandparents Maria & Garret

Great Grand Uncle J. William

Great Grand Uncle J. William

Grand Aunt Leona

Grand Aunt Leona

Great Grandmother Juna and her sister Hannah

Great Grandmother Juna and her sister Hannah

Had she never done the research, Ms. Jeannie would never have known what any of these people looked like. With the exception of great grandmother Juna, these were all brand-new faces of family.

Ms. Jeannie likes to look at these pictures and think about the context in which they were taken. What was great Aunt Leona thinking about? Why were Juna and Hannah wearing paper dresses? What was the pin on the lapel of J. William? Noticing small details like this paints a vivid picture for the imagination!

In the same vain, whenever Ms. Jeannie comes across old photographs for sale, she can’t help but do the  same exact thing – she thinks about the back story surrounding each image.  She has several examples of this in her Etsy shop… let’s take a look…(click on any of the pictures for more information about each photograph)

On first glance, you might just see a picture of a girl on a bench…

Ms. Jeannie named her Nina!

Ms. Jeannie named her Nina!

nina2

But crawl inside Ms. Jeannie’s head and she’ll tell you this story…

“Nina waited patiently for Spring. Well, technically, she was waiting for summer – but you had to get through spring in order to get to summer, so she had to dream in order. This summer, she’d be done. Done with high school. Done with wearing plaid skirt uniforms and done, done, done with all that homework, thank goodness. Sure, she was going onto college in the Fall, but that would be different. There would be boys, and classes she wanted to take and parents that she only had to see on breaks. At college, her preferences for life would bloom and Nina couldn’t wait for that. She’d study literature and she’d become a writer and her very first piece would be about the suffocation of long skirts and loafers.”

Here, you see two bathing beauties…

1940s Swim Photographs

swim2

swim3

And Ms. Jeannie sees Rose and Evelyn…

“Rose and Evelyn stayed in their swimsuits the whole entire vacation. And who could blame them? With that ocean stretching out behind them and the infinity pool disappearing in front – it was all they needed. This was the vacation where Evelyn perfected her dive, and where Rose realized that she was now technically old enough to flirt with boys without looking ridiculous. It was an ego-booster for both of them, this vacation.”

This one is a school scene from the 1920’s…

microscope

school1

Sometimes, Ms. Jeannie sees many stories in one scene. Such is the case, with this one! Here is all she imagined…

“There’s the obvious one, of course, about how smiling Dorothy is in love with Gilbert and absolutely thrilled that her crush of the past two years is now sharing elbow space with her. 

There’s the story about lively Pauline (in the forefront) and how she talked her way into getting the traveling photographer to stop by her Biology 101 class. “You’ll want to document the budding scientific genius occurring in room 9, sir. I guarantee you that.” 

There’s the story of Mr. Whipple, first year science teacher, who doggedly fought the school board for months over the right to buy 37 microscopes so that each student in his class (not just the boys) would have use of their own scientific study instruments. 

Then there is the story of three friends, who spent all summer in the science lab researching why the bullfrogs in Tillman Pond were genetically bigger then the bullfrogs in every other pond in town. 

And let’s not forget about humble Pauline who was the first girl, in the state of Texas, to win first place in the national science fair, which yielded not only a cash prize for her, but new textbooks and supplies for her school. 

Oh, Ms. Jeannie could practically write a novel with all the situations going on here! Now it’s your turn to look close and see what stories you see…”

This one is a miniature portrait…

marion

marion2

Ms. Jeannie called her Marion and wrote about her neighbor, Arnie (short for Arnold)…

“Marion’s got a suitor in her neighbor, Arnie, across the street. Well, technically he’s not really her suitor yet – but one of these days she’s going to fall head over heels for him. He just knows it. In the meantime, he does his best, on a daily basis, to try to impress her – nothing’s really gone gangbusters so far. Most of the time she stands there, with her arms crossed and that same as ever are you kidding me expression. But Arnie’s of a hopeful mindset…one day, she’ll see it.”

Ms. Jeannie got a little help from the inscription on this photo postcard…

bobbie

cheer2

This is what she thought was going on inside Bobbie’s world…

“Oh that Bobbie – she’s quite a clever kidder, calling her beau a schnook like that. She hopes this subtle Merry Christmas postcard tactic is all that she will need to make handsome Dean realize that she is quite over the moon for him. It’s only taken her the whole semester to get her nerve up – but what the heck does she have to lose now? It’s Christmastime and she’s feeling hopeful. She’ll just slide it under Dean’s dorm room door before she heads home for the holiday. Let him stew on that during winter break!”

Of course, all these photographs are open to interpretation,. You may see something totally different in the bathing beauties or in Bobbie’s cheering stance,  but that is sort of the fun of these old photographs. Don’t you think?

Following this train of thought, Ms. Jeannie came up with a fun little challenge for all of you dear readers!

Here it is..

What is this scene all about?

What is this scene all about?

Now it is your turn to come up with the back story about this picture above!  Write your own quick little story snippet about this photograph and email it to msjeannieology[at]yahoo.com

It doesn’t have to be long… just a few sentences is great.  The most creative entry, as determined by Mr. Jeannie Ology (for fairness, of course) will win the picture! The challenge will be open for one week so be sure to get your entries in by midnight on Tuesday, February 26th. Winner will be announced via blog post, and also email, on Wednesday, February 27th.

Lucky for you – there’s a little extra help with this challenge! On the back of the photo, written in pencil, it says…

“Grace & Me. I have on Grace’s hat and she has mine on.” 

Here’s a few more close-up views of the photograph. In case you want to know the size – it measures 2.5″ inches x 3.5″ inches.

hat2

hat3

hat4

hat5

Good luck and happy imagining!!!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

A lesson from Grandma

A lesson from Grandma

Happy Valentine’s Day dear readers!

On this special day of love Ms. Jeannie was thinking of her grandmother, Dorothy Ruth, who hand crocheted the tablecloth above that Ms. Jeannie used as a backdrop for her valentine message. Dorothy loved to sew, embroider and crochet. She wasn’t a professional seamstress, although she made a lot of clothes for herself and her family, including wedding dresses for all three of her girls and clothes for her grandchildren.

dorothy

Dorothy with Ms. Jeannie’s mom as a baby.

She would never dream of calling herself an artist or a designer, even though she had so many artistic tendencies and talents.  She just loved the act of sewing.

Dorothy’s husband, Philip, loved to build things, and in his spare time, he would make furniture. When Philip built a table for their living room, Dorothy loved it so much, she didn’t want to get a scratch on it. So she made this very tablecloth to protect the finish.

tablecloth2

Now when Ms. Jeannie looks at this tablecloth she sees great reminders. She sees how one stitch leads to a circle, which leads to a flower, which leads to a pattern, which leads to a piece, which eventually leads to an entire tablecloth.

She sees how doing things that you love, however small they may seem, can lead to big things.  She sees how true happiness can offer protection against the marks and scratches of life.

Protect what you make with love.

Protect what you love with what you make.

Make what you love.

That was Dorothy’s way. And in keeping, Ms. Jeannie’s special valentine message for you… May all that you love to do today, inspire and protect all whom will love it tomorrow.

Happy Holiday!!!

A Family of Firemen and the Women They Loved

Last week found Ms. Jeannie, unexpectedly, in sunny Florida, helping her father who had fallen and hit his head. It was a scary week involving the Intensive Care Unit, doctors and specialists, prescriptions and timetables and making what felt like a million pots of soup.

In the midst of all the bad, Ms. Jeannie searched for the good. Happily, she found it staring right in front of  her on the walls of her dad’s house….

Ms. Jeannie’s grandfather, Herbert (second from left) and his pals

Family photos she had yet to record in her family history information!

Herbert (pictured above – with the curly hair)  is Ms. Jeannie’s grandfather. He was a firemen in Chicago for over 40 years. His father Joseph, was also a fireman in Chicago, as well as Joseph’s father,  Jacob, who immigrated from Germany.

Herbert and his dad, Joesph

Joseph first became a fireman in the mid-1910’s.  He was an engineer with Engine Number 24 in Chicago.  Here’s a picture of Joseph, in his uniform alongside his wife, Mary. Mary was also from Chicago – not too much is known about her yet (more research to do!).

Mary and Joseph in Chicago

Joseph with his engine company in Chicago. Joseph is in the top row – second from the right. You can just make out the fire truck behind them.

Mary and Joseph had two boys: Herbert & Charles, but Charles died when he was a baby. Joseph eventually found his way to the Army Air Force base in Sarasota in the early 1940’s where he was fire chief.  This is a picture of him with Ms. Jeannie’s dad. She just loves this photo!

Joseph in Sarasota, FL with his grandson.

Tragically, Joseph died after being run over by a cement truck. He was 67 years old. Mary died 20 years later. It must have been hard.

Joseph’s son, Herbert married Cecylia Lucille, whom everyone called Lucy. They were married in 1933 in Chicago.

Herbert and Lucy on their wedding day in 1933

Lucy was born in Buffalo, New York  to parents, Jozef and Jozefa,  who immigrated from the province of Posen in Germany.

Jozef and Jozefa on their wedding day in 1902 in Buffalo.

Jozef was a tailor in Buffalo throughout his life. Together, he and Jozefa had eight children. Four years after the last one was born, Jozefa died from burns sustained when her clothes caught on fire in the kitchen. Jozef wrapped her in a blanket to extinguish the flames but the burns covered over 80% of her body.

Unprepared to raise 8 children on his own and overcome with grief, Jozef had to place his children in the Catholic orphanage in Buffalo. Family members eventually collected all the children again, but most of the 8 grew up at the orphanage – Lucy included. She was 18 when she left there.

This is a picture of Lucy’s first Holy Communion, which must have been taken just about a year before her mother’s death.

Lucy photographed on her First Holy Communion.

Although Herbert was not yet a fireman, when he and Lucy married, Ms. Jeannie thinks it must have been reassuring for Lucy in some way when he became one.  For all the sadness that surrounded Lucy’s childhood, happiness in her adult life with Herbert really made up for it. They were great loves and had a lot of fun together.

Herbert and Lucy

Herbert in his fire uniform.

Lucy was always a very stylish dresser. Ms. Jeannie wishes she inherited her lovely wavy hair. Herbert’s curly genes seemed to be more prevalent though!

Herbert at the the firehouse – Engine 33 in Chicago. Herbert is in the top row, second from right.

In addition to being a fireman, Herbert was also the firehouse cook. Boy could he make a mean bowl of chili! He was great at making big pots of things – but Ms. Jeannie guesses after 40 years of cooking for a company full of firemen, it must be hard to scale down!

Lucy and Herbert

Lucy died when Ms. Jeannie was just a baby so she she doesn’t really remember her, but Grandpa Herbert remains strong and lovable in her memory. He was a marvelous grandfather, full of fun and kindness. He was forever bringing little treats and presents to Ms. Jeannie and her sister. And he told wonderful, exciting stories about life at the firehouse.

He also loved to sing and tell jokes, believed in playing the lottery every week, had a fondness for doughnuts with coffee, and a cigar in the afternoon. He loved crossword puzzles and baseball games. He loved all types of affection and he loved to dance. He taught Ms. Jeannie how to be a card shark when it came to poker, how to love unconditionally and how being pleasant, good-natured and grateful was far nicer then being opinionated and troublesome. Everything about him was just lovely.

Herbert died in his mid 80’s of cancer, having never been sick in his entire life. In his final months,  he gave many of his old family photos to one of the nurses aides that watched over him, simply because she expressed an interest in antique photographs. That was his way, always giving, so we can’t fault him for his generosity,  although this has left Ms. Jeannie with quite a challenging genealogy project on her hands. She thinks one day, that the photos Herbert gave away, will eventually find their way back to the family.  “When the time is right,” as Herbert would’ve said.

In the meantime, Ms. Jeannie likes to keep her eye out for firehouse-related antiques. Etsy has quite a few amazing finds like the ones listed below… maybe one day she’ll find something from Herbert’s or Joseph’s fire companies. Wouldn’t that be spectacular?! (click on each image for more info) 

Antique Fire Hose from 86home

Antique Fire Station Bell Control Box Top from OhioPicker

Antique Brass Fire Extinguisher

Antique Waterbury Fire Department Buttons from stbthreadworks

Antique Booklet – The Great Chicago Fire from MsHuggerNeck

Vintage NY Fire Dept. Collapsible Bucket from LathandPlaster

Antique Fire Chief Insignia

Vintage Fire Hose Nozzle from CopperandTin

Antique Fire Prints from SurrenderDorothy

Antique Icebox from the Willimatic Fire Co. from wearesellingit

Antique Brass Fireman’s Tool from 40thStVarietyStore

Vintage Emergency Telephone Call Box from MoonMayfairVintage

Antique Tintype of Two Firemen from diabolus

Pair of Firemen’s Hooks from 21GristMillLane

Vintage Fire Alarm from LunchLadyVintage

Antique Toy Fire Truck from ChompMonster

Churn Dash – The Pattern of the Pioneer Woman

More family heirlooms arrived in the mail yesterday!

This time the package included two family quilts. One a small pink and white baby quilt handmade by Mable Edwards in the early 1940’s…

Handmade baby quilt circa 1942

After doing some research Ms. Jeannie discovered that this type of pattern is called a Dahlia design.  It is one of the most complex and challenging quilt patterns, because the skill comes in making the flowers look three dimensional.  Mable must have been an excellent sewer! Here are some close up shots…

Pretty scalloped edges!

Look at all that stitchery!

The second quilt is believed to have been sewn by Mable’s mother Martha Jane Brewer, who was born in Greenwood, Indiana in 1846.  Martha married Albert Edwards in the 1865 and the day after their wedding they set out in covered wagon for Iowa. Imagine that for your honeymoon! Martha was a trooper though. Her and Albert set up a life for themselves in Iowa on a farm, she had 11 babies and lived to be 82.

Here’s a picture of the Martha and Albert and all their kids, grand-kids and great grand-kids. This photograph was taken in August 1915 when Martha & Albert were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. Martha and Albert are seated in the center of the group.

Portrait of the Edwards Family of Vinton, Iowa. Taken on August 24th, 1915.

With all that activity it is hard to imagine that Martha even had time to sew! This is a picture of Martha’s quilt…

Martha’s handmade quilt circa late 1800’s

The quilt design is called Churn Dash named after the butter churn. Ms. Jeannie isn’t sure what kind of butter churn Martha used but you can see how the pattern developed from the these two churn styles found on Etsy. Check out the paddles of each…

Antique Butter Churn Pottery from TomLaurus

Vintage French Butter Churn from RueDesLouves

Ms. Jeannie couldn’t find any similar versions of a double churn dash style like the one Martha used, so perhaps this is a bit unusual.

Double churn dash design

The blue and white color combo was the most popular color combination used in quilts because it matched almost everything. Martha’s quilt as you can see is faded in some spots, but otherwise it is in great condition. It is large enough to cover a contemporary standard queen size bed.

According to research there are over 21 different variations of the churn dash style. It also is known as the Monkey Wrench and the Hole in the Barn Door (fun name!).  Ms. Jeannie is impressed with all the tiny squares and the thousands of stiches that make up just one square. She wonders how long it took Martha to make this.

Tiny squares. Tiny stitches.

The churn dash pattern originated between 1800 and 1849 and represents the pioneer woman’s lifestyle which was centered around home and hearth. Certainly Martha churned a few pats of butter in her day – both literally from farm fresh milk and figuratively from her needle and thread.

Ms. Jeannie is still trying to date the quilt to a specific decade. It could have been made as early at the 1860’s for use just after her wedding as she & Albert traveled West. Or it could have been made as late as the 1920’s when Martha’s children were grown and she had more time to devote to needlework.

Ms. Jeannie found this really pretty contemporary version of a churn dash quilt on Etsy. She loves the colors and that they spelled out churn dash on the fabric. Very fun!

Churn Dash Revisted by OsageRiverQuilts

Here’s another view of it hanging on a wall. Love the off-center layout!

Ms. Jeannie would like to try to make her own quilt one day. She likes the patterns of the wedding ring designs with those big interlocking circles…

Antique Double Wedding Ring Quilt from SwankyTexasVintage

But she doesn’t own a sewing machine and would like the challenge (she thinks!) of making a quilt by hand. Perhaps she’ll undertake this project in the Fall. Maybe Mable and Martha will send her some inspiration!

In the meantime, Ms. Jeannie now realizes what effort when into the patchwork teddy bear listed in her shop…

Vintage Patchwork Teddy Bear from MsJeannieOlogy

Ms. Jeannie couldn’t imagine shaping all those patches into a recognizable bear shape!

Vintage Patchwork Teddy Bear from MsJeannieOlogy

The patches just give him so much personality!

Vintage Patchwork Teddy Bear

Maybe once Ms. Jeannie tackles the flat panels of a quilt, she can work on something more complicated like this charmer for a fun baby gift! We’ll see how the quilt goes first…keep posted!

Family Portraits: What Clothing Can Tell You

Ms. Jeannie’s great grandmother, Mable,  arrived by post yesterday. It had been quite a few years since Ms. Jeannie had spent any time with her, so as you can imagine, it was very exciting to see her lovely face again.  It’s not often (in Ms. Jeannie’s case anyway!) that she gets a visit from an ancestor;)  She couldn’t wait to get her all situated.

Tin portrait of Ms. Jeannie’s great grandmother, Mable Jeanette Edwards

Mable is one of the most photographed women of Ms. Jeannie’s family. She’s actually the only family member born before 1900 that has been photographed at all stages of her life from childhood to senior citizen. It’s nice to see the transition…

Mabel Jeanette Edwards circa 1890’s.

She was born in Benton County, Iowa in 1887 , the daughter of an Ohio civil war soldier, who suffered eye damage in the war.  Her parents traveled by covered wagon from Indiana, the day after they were married, (some honeymoon!) to Iowa where they rented a farm and started a family.   Mable had 10 brothers and sisters, but only eight of them lived to see their adult years. Mable carved out her own little place in the family’s heart.  As the very last baby, she was the most spoiled, the most doted on, the most played with.  Imagine all the attention from all those brothers and sisters!

Ms. Jeannie guesses that  Mable is about 5 or 6 in this picture. She was such the Victorian poster child here, portraying all that was trendy and stylish just as the century as drawing to a close. As you can see,  her hair is quite long and fringed, as was popular with any young miss at that time, and she is wearing quite a bit of jewelry ( two rings and a necklace pendant) which tells you that her family was doing well enough to be able to afford pretty non-necessities for their littlest member. She’s also wearing a detachable crocheted collar, possibly made my Mable’s mom or sisters. Everybody crocheted in the the late 1800’s. Doilies, tableclothes, blankets, collars – if it could be sewn it could be crocheted!  Crocheted collars, in particular, were favorite accessories of both the Victorian and Edwardian eras because they could be mixed and matched with a bevy of different outfits. They also lent a bit of bright to the preferred somber colors of the time.

Here she is at the age of 15…

Mable Jeanette Edwards circa 1900

At the time of this picture she would have been almost finished with her schooling. By this age, her clothes have changed from the dark,  heavy Victorian colors to the lighter, brighter colors and fabrics of the Edwardian era. Very Downton Abbey! Also as she is maturing her style is more feminine and delicate. This white eyelet blouse with its high color was also a very popular style in the early 1900’s. It seems Mable was quite trendy when it came  to clothes! And you’ll note, that her hair was pinned up in place at the nape of her neck. This is the transition period between having hair hang down her back as a child, and having it pinned on top of her head as an adult. It s fascinating what you can learn  just by a picture!

Mable Jeanette Edwards c. 1904

This next picture was taken just a couple of years later, after Mable finished school. She became a teacher and taught in a rural one room schoolhouse in Benton County, Iowa.  Her pocket watch was most likely a staple of her school mistress attire.

Now that Mable is an adult – her hair is pinned on top of her head.  Also we can see she is wearing a winter outfit as noted by the dark colors. Her skirt and hat were most likely in the shades of dark brown – considered a very attractive winter color.  And looks what’s on her head…a feather! This brings the Plume Trader blog post full circle!  Ms. Jeannie suspects this might be a rooster tail feather in Mable’s hat.

Her blouse would have been either a moss green color or a lavender grey color to match her hat plume. These color combinations were very popular for the winter wardrobe of the stylish Edwardian lady.

Mable on her wedding day. November 18th, 1909.

In November 1909, Mable married Illinois born William Earle Race at home in Vinton, Iowa. She was 21 years old, Earle 23.  Her wedding dress was made out of brushed silk with detailed hand-embroidered lace.  The collar style of Mable’s dress is called a  high dog collar, which was popular for brides of the era.

William Earle Race, circa 1915

Mable and Earle had one little boy, Phillip Ardath…

Phillip Ardath Race with his neighbor circa 1915

Here, he’s entertaining their neighbor. So cute – both of them. Ms. Jeannie loves Phillip’s romper and the neighbor lady’s dress is gorgeous.  Another Downton Abbey style! The look they are having so much fun!

Mable Edwards Race with her mom, Martha Jane Brewer Edwards

This is Mable and her mom, Martha around the 1930’s. Ms. Jeannie loves the difference in clothing between these two genereations. Martha still favoring the long skirts and long sleeves of the Victorian era. Most likely, Martha was of the thrifty mind-set and wore her clothes until they wore out. Mable on the other hand as we have learned was always keeping up with the trends. Here Mable is showing much more skin then her mom yet is still conservatively dressed.

Mable & Earle Race – circa 1940’s

Here Mable and Earle are pictured on their farm in Washington State.  Taken in the late 1940’s, Ms. Jeannie loves this candid shot. Mable smiling, her hand on her hip, Earle with his thumbs in his pockets.  They look so comfortable around each other. As you can see, Earle was a whole head taller then Mable, almost an entire foot! By this point they have been married over 30 years.

Phillip always said that Mable and Earle were great loves. They traveled the ups and downs of life  with the same  level of fortitude, making the best they could of everything. Through the Depression, through countless jobs, through countless moves, from Iowa to Washington State and back again twice.  Together they were.  Mable was a grower, a writer and a bird lover. Earle a salesman, a logger, and a baker. To their grand-kids they were “Memo” and “Bumpy”.

Earle died in February 1975 and Mable followed six months after. Family lore said she died of a broken heart.

Ms. Jeannie understands. She has a great love too. Ms. Jeannie also has a feeling that if her and Mable were alive together at the same time – they just might have been good friends. Imagine that. Imagine if you could be friends with your ancestors. Who would you pick?

Thanks to the wonderful world of Etsy, you can now recreate Mabel’s fashionable looks from the late 1800’s to the 1950’s. Etsy’s vintage shop sellers have all the garments you will need! Take a look:

For young Mable as a Victorian girl:

Rare Antique Victorian Girl’s Dress from SouthernVintageGa

Civil War Pineapple Crocheted Collar by MadeByHandThings

Mable’s Edwardian teenager look…

Ivory Pintucked Dress from FoxyBritVintage

Vintage 1909 Cotton Dress from WildHoneyPieVintage

Mable in school teacher attire…

Victorian Black Taffeta Blouse – from BlacklistVintageMPLS

Victorian Bodice Skirt Dress from JenniesJunque

Antique Victorian Millinery Supplies Feather from Antiquesofromance

Antique 1907 Pocket Watch from goldandgemsllc

Mable on her wedding day…

1900s Silk Wedding Trousseau from daisyandstella

Mable in the 1950’s…

1940s Betty Barclay Striped Dress from LipStickWhiskey

1940’s Striped Day Dress from MaeVintageInc

Would you like to see more? Click on any above picture to visit that Etsy sellers shop!

Journey of a Norwegian American Family: An Adventure in Research

For a time, when Ms.Jeannie was small, she thought she was Asian.

She recalls a story, her mother was telling at the dining room table one night about her great grandparents, the Wongs. Certainly Ms. Jeannie didn’t look Asian, with her dark blond hair and green eyes, nor did any of her family members look Asian. But Ms. Jeannie had a wonderful imagination as a child and of course, she was a subscriber to National Geographic.

She could picture the Far East with it’s geishas, it’s red paper dragons, it’s rice fields….the silk brocades, the fishing villages, the serene gardens. She could here the gonging of the metal.

As the dinner conversation continued, Ms. Jeannie learned from her mother that in fact the Wong ancestors were not really Asian at all. They were Norwegian actually.  Their named just happened to both look and sound Asian.

Well, from that moment Ms. Jeannie was hooked. She peppered her mother with questions about her Asian sounding now Norwegian ancestors. But Ms. Jeannie’s mother knew very little, so the questions went unanswered, and the spark laid dorment for a time.

Years later, taking matters into her own hands, Ms. Jeannie emabarked on a mision to find out just who these Nordic people were. She started with this information from her mother…which turned out to be the only things that her family knew about the Wongs at that time.

So she knew that Martin & Clara had eight children and she knew there birthdates & the parents death dates. It was a mystery where they were born, where they lived, the last name of mother Clara and what happened to all the kids.

So the research began! Through careful study, the process of eliminaton and millions of census records, the mystery of the Wongs started to unravel.

Ms. Jeannie learned the Wong name was really spelled Wang (and pronounced Vang) so out the door the Asian culture theories flew!  Now that Ms. Jeannie had the correct spelling, her search got much simpler.

She narrowed it down to households containing the name Martin & Clara and all the children.  There were only two families with similiar names, one in North Dakota and on in Wisconsin. Ms. Jeannie’s grandmother was born in Wisconsin, so she started researching that family. Luckily she was on the right track! Through ancestry.com she found a few records for Martin Wang and a picture of he and Clara…

Martin & Clara Wang

Exciting! Through the information provided in the census, Ms. Jeannie learned that Martin & Clara were from Ostre Toten Norway and Hurdal, Norway respectively.   And Clara’s last name was Erickskillet. Martin applied for American citizenship in 1876 as determined by this document:

Martin Wang’s citizenship card

Martin & Clara actually had nine children. J. William Wang died when he was 12 years old. Ms. Jeannie uncovered this picture of the Wang family taken at J. William’s funeral. Everybody looks sad, especially little Edwin (the one holding the frame)…

Ms. Jeannie was on a role now – gathering various bits and pieces of information. Martin had a glass eye. He was a cabinet maker. They lived on a farm.

Martin built a church in Wisconsin:

The church that Martin built

Interior view of the church.

Contemporary picture of the church.. It’s still there!

Ms. Jeannie’s mother found a box with some old unmarked family photos and now they could add names to faces…

Wang Family Portrait

Juna Wang.

Originally everybody thought this was Nora Wang – Juna’s sister. But extra research put the right name with the right face.

Juna and her sisters.

Juna and her sister. Unidentified men -pPossibly her brothers.

Meeting other Wang family relatives on ancestry.com led to the sharing of this picture of Clara Wang in her senior years. She sure looks like a hard worker.

Seeing this picture, Ms. Jeannie’s mother realized she had  this  picture of Clara that was taken with Clara’s granddaughter.:

Clara Wang with grandaughter.

Ms. Jeannie’s mother now recalled stories  of  Clara not being able to  speak any English. The census lists the family as speaking Norwegian in their household. Possibly Martin spoke English and Norwegian, in order to conduct business in America.

Ms. Jeannie has now learned quite a bit about of information about the Wang Family. She has all their birth & death dates and places, information about all the children, who they married, where they lived and died, etc.

It’s exciting to see that Ms. Jeannie started here:

And wound up here:

Custom Ancestry Chart by msjeannieology

If you’d like help tracing your family stories and photographs, send Ms.Jeannie a message! She would love to spark your interest in genealogy!

Want to learn more stories? Watch celebrities trace their roots on  Who Do You Think You Are on NBC every Friday at 8:00pm.  They are already in their third season!

Here’s a clip from one of Ms. Jeannie’s favorite episodes from season 1 featuring Lisa Kudrow:

Who Do You Think You Are

Search for amazing Norwegian antiques on etsy.com. You never know…you might find something that once belonged to your relatives!

Antique Scandinavian Oval Wedding Box from mustnc

Antique Norwegian Baptismal Spoon from davidjp1927

1879 Norwegian Psalm Book from Bill

1927 Map of Norway & Sweden from ImSoVintage

Antique Photo Card – Lady in Norwegian Uniform from christmasangel

Miniature Norwegian Folk Art Chair from BlackRoosterVintage

1920’s Norwegian Christmas Card from BurtsFirstRodeo

1920’s Ivar T. Holt Brooch from ZoesGems