Family Drama: The Havilands of America, France and Germany

In the 1800’s there was an American family named the Havilands who owned a china shop in New York City. The family was made up of four brothers David, Edmond, Daniel, and Robert all who participated in the dishware business in one way or another whether it was through trading, importing, exporting or physical operation of the William Street storefront.

A 19th-century view of William Street where the Haviland’s worked. Photo courtesy of the New York Public Library Digital Collection.

Selling dishes in New York City in the 19th century was a competitive business. China merchants were located all around town utilizing the bustling harbor to import dishes from faraway countries. The Haviland inventory came from England and France in the form of creamware…

Early 1800’s English creamware

that came off the Pearl Street docks just a few blocks from the Haviland’s shop. Constantly trying to improve their offerings and find lucrative ways to stay afloat while supplying the city with serving pieces, the Haviland’s also offered china repair services. Legend states that a broken teacup made of a beautiful white clay brought in by a customer, led one brother, David, to hunt down the source of this stunning bright, light material.

Portrait of David Haviland painted in 1848 by Fortin

The search for discovery led him all the way to Limoges, France where factories had been producing porcelain dishes made from local kaolin clay since the 1700’s. Beholding the beauty of this delicate but strong material the enterprising David picked up his wife and young son from America and moved to Limoges with plans of opening his own porcelain factory in order to send all of its creations back to America for sale.

David’s wife, Mary Miller Haviland

In France in the 1800’s, pottery manufacturing and pottery design were two separate businesses. First, the pottery was made in a factory then it was shipped to artisans who painted or applied decorative imagery to the blank pieces. David Haviland saw a faster, more efficient process. When he opened his china manufacturing plant in Limoges, he hired local artists to hand-paint colorful designs on his porcelain pieces in-factory, thus eliminating the extra steps of sending china blanks out to be finished.

David’s European business venture quickly set him apart from other local French potters. His faster production time allowed more shipments and greater volumes to be exported. Plus, his new oval shaped dishes, the artistic renderings of realistic-looking hand-painted flowers and the bright white glow of the porcelain material delighted American buyers. Quickly word spread and a prestigious reputation of fine china manufacturing followed. Havilland Limoges became the must-have item. Even U.S. presidents were smitten. An elegant, artistic brand bearing the Haviland name was established.

Haviland Limoges china circa 1870

Back in France, David’s two sons Charles and Theodore grew up in the family business. Both went on to make life-long careers of the industry, each adding their own unique style, design aesthetic and innovation to the Haviland brand. But even though the company enjoyed world-wide notoriety, staying at the top of their game was still a constant balancing act. Competition was fierce both inside the industry and inside the family.

Upon their dad’s death in 1879, Charles and Theodore couldn’t agree on similar ways to move the company forward so they broke it in two.  Both brothers, now operating at the helm of their own separate companies, incorporated the family name and waged a war against each other for top spot in the market.

Charles’s pottery mark on the left, Theodore’s pottery mark on the right, circa 1880’s/1890’s. Marks courtesy of Kovels.

The stable of original in-house French artists that their dad, David, had gathered and that had turned the Haviland dishes into beautiful works of art became pawns between the two son’s companies. There was in-fighting and backstabbing. The brothers competed with each other on all levels from design to pricing. When a set of Theodore Haviland China went on sale, Charles would reduce a similar set of his own even more. If Charles offered a 15 piece set of china for a certain price, Theodore would offer a 25 piece set for the same price. And so it went back and forth between the two.

Charles Haviland china plate on the left,. Theodore Haviland cup and saucer on the right.

Charles had a son named Jean, who was born in France and like his dad grew up in the china business. But unlike Charles’s childhood,  Jean didn’t grow up in the hard-work-pays-off environment experienced by his smart, industrious grandfather, David. Instead, Jean saw his dad, Charles, bear the exhausting burden of constantly competing in a business that relentlessly beat back. Brother warred against brother for ultimate superiority and control of the prestigious Haviland name.

Young Jean loved dishes just like his father and his grandfather but he didn’t see a place for himself amidst the family feuding. When Jean became of age, he moved to Germany, changed his name to John and opened up his own pottery factory in Bavaria under the name Johann Haviland.

Jean’s desire was to produce simple, affordable serving pieces and dish sets for everyday American households as well as strong, sturdy constant-use sets for hotels and restaurants. Even though his dishes bared the Haviland name, their simple designs and more economical price-point were seen as somehow inferior to the exquisite detail and artistic merit associated with David Haviland’s original dynasty.  Jean stayed in business only a few years before his company was bought by another pottery company. From there, the Johann Haviland brand changed ownership again and again until it was finally discontinued in the 1970’s.

Of the two warring brothers, Charles and Theodore,  and the fate of their warring companies, ultimate success was achieved by Theodore whose family line continued the Haviland tradition of fine quality craftsmanship and exquisite design that still continues today…

Jean Haviland’s pieces under the Johann Haviland brand might be snubbed today by serious Haviland collectors, but they still hold up in both form and function. The simple elegance of this Johann Haviland platter is effortless in design and ability. It matches everything, accommodates a plentiful array of food and contains the history of a man who dared to do things without the drama.

Perhaps there was a bitter taste in Jean’s mouth when he witnessed his family’s ultimate fight for prestige over passion.  Even though Jean who became John and then traded under the name Johann, knew all the formulas for success in order to produce high-quality dishware he did not succumb to the mercilessly competitive nature of his father and uncle, which seems like a character trait that would have made his grandfather David proud. Jean might not have put his personal mark on the china industry for as long as other family members but he did manage to break away from the feudal family climate and follow his own more peaceful rhythm.

Find the smartly stylish Johann Haviland platter listed in the shop here. It looks outstanding with every other dish in the shop so if you are looking for a grouping of serving pieces then this is your easy-breezy match-all mate.

 

It’s All In the Initials: Sewing Advances at the Fair

One hundred and twenty years ago, in the summer of 1893, newspapers across the country were reporting on a grand spectacle of an event taking place in a big city. That big city was Chicago and the event was the Columbian Exposition also known as the World’s Fair.

Silk Handkerchief Souvenir from the World's Fair Chicago 1893

Silk Handkerchief Souvenir from the World’s Fair Chicago 1893

For six months, from May – October, the reception gates welcomed visitors to the downtown Chicago lakefront staging area that was a marvel in size, scale and execution.

Aerial view of the Chicago World's Fair. Photo via pinterest.

Aerial view of the Chicago World’s Fair. Photo via pinterest.

A staggering 25% of Americans attended the Fair in those six months, and Ms. Jeannie is excited to report that one such visitor was her great great grandmother, Martha.

martha5

Martha traveled from Iowa to Illinois, armed with a summer’s worth of knowledge about the Fair thanks to the frequent reporting of her local newspaper, the Vinton Eagle who kept it’s readers up to date on all aspects of the Exposition from logistics to exhibits, history to happenings.

In illustrated glory, all the details of the World's Fair as reported by The Vinton Eagle in a July 1893  edition

In illustrated glory, all the details of the World’s Fair as reported by The Vinton Eagle in a July 1893 paper

That year, the Fair commemorated the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America and celebrated the latest advances in industry and technology occuring throughout the world.  It was an exciting place to be, not only as an eyewitness to progress, but also for all the hope and possibility that hung in the air as our nation quickly approached the dawning of a new century.

Opening day of the Chicago World's Fair. Photo via pinterest.

Opening day of the Chicago World’s Fair, May 1893. Photo via pinterest.

No doubt, Martha was caught up in the fever and wonder of such marvelous new sights like the first Ferris wheel, the first automatic dishwasher, the introduction of food novelties like gum and ready made pancake mix and the debut of the zipper.

Also in the sewing category came a new piece of machinery, which drew delight to many attendees, especially among the ladies, Martha included. Debuting at the fair was the first on-site embroidery machine that could embroider names and initials on fabric while you waited.

The Palace of Mechanical Arts was where most of the textile exhibits were located. Photo via pinterest

The Palace of Mechanical Arts was where most of the textile exhibits were located. Photo via pinterest

Martha was so enamored with this “instant gratification” concept that she purchased a colorful souvenir handkerchief…

A silk handkerchief momento

A silk handkerchief momento depicting the layout of the entire Exhibition.

And had her name embroidered in the corner…

M. J. Edwards

M. J. Edwards

If you look closely, you’ll notice there is no “s” on the end of Edwards – whether that was accidental or limited due to a specific amount of allowable letters, Ms. Jeannie will never actually know. But she loves that this handkerchief carries a personal touch of her great great grandmother at an event that was so creative and inspiring.

The handkerchief itself is in wonderful condition.  The silk fabric so delicate yet bright with its vivid colors and detailed drawing of the fairgrounds.  The embroidery looks like it was sewn yesterday, instead of over a century ago.  Ms. Jeannie wonders if Martha ever wore it or used it in any way or if it remained stored away as a special reminder of a special trip.

Martha was a sewer herself, so maybe she just appreciated the fact that a machine could now produce something as equally lovely and delicate as initials without having to do it by hand.

At the time of the Fair, Martha was 47 years old, she had been married for 29 years, and had birthed 11 babies. Waiting for her back at home in Iowa, in addition to her own kids  (the youngest which was aged six)  were 10 grandchildren all under the age of 7.

Ms. Jeannie bets that Martha saw her fair share of mending projects involved with that large brood! It’s no wonder that she amazed by this speedy embroidery machine. Imagine how fast all those sewing projects would go if she had one of these machines of her very own!

fair4

So maybe this handkerchief represents a time-saving industrial novelty, or maybe it represents a fun travel adventure or perhaps just a stunning flight of fancy from one sewer to another… either way, Ms. Jeannie is thrilled that it has stayed in her family and survived intact for 120 years.  That’s a true marvel in keeping with the theme of the World’s Fair itself!

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.

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