Remember the book “The Five People you meet in Heaven” by Mitch Album? Well, these are “The Ten Things I Would Take in Case of a Disaster.”
- My father, William F. Sherman, was born in September of 1915. His great-grandparents, Ephraim and Catharine Niess traveled from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Washington DC to see him and for Ephraim to attend a GAR convention. Catharine brought along this Carriage Robe she had woven for her first great grandchild. Two months later Ephraim was dead. Would I ever display the robe in it’s fragile condition? Never! Would I rescue it in case of a disaster? You bet I would! Item number one in my box.
- I would also rescue the linen tablecloth Catharine wove from hemp grown on her either her father’s or grandfather’s farm. This tablecloth is a piece of linen that was from the shroud she had woven for her own burial! . . . and I have it! Is it precious? Yes, it was touched by my great-great-great-grandfather, my great-great-grandmother, her son, my great-grandfather, my grandmother, my father and on to me! WoW! At least seven generations have seen this in one stage or another! My grand mother had it hemmed by her friend Petra Ramirez before 1930. The handwork is phenomenal. Item number 2 for my disaster box.
- Item number three is actually four items. In my possession are four family Bibles.
- The oldest one belonged to my sixth great grandmother, Susannah Bischoff Leader. The date of 1839 is written in this one. Read my blog on “Susannah’s Bible.”
- The next oldest one belonged to my great-great grandfather, Rev. Jeremiah Mark Carvell, PhD. He was a pastor in the Church of God and died in 1894 at the age of 51. He carefully entered all the births and deaths of his young children and wife in the pages of this Bible and it even contains a pressed flower, presumably from the funeral of my great-great grandmother.
- The third Bible belonged to Jeremiah’s daughter, Carrie Virginia Carvell Niess first and my grandmother, Nellie Viola Niess Sherman, secondly. It is a King James version and I love it. They have both written in it, and now I have it.
- The Stienstra family Bible is the fourth one in my collection. Jim gave it to his parents many years ago and all of the family information is filled out on the pages provided. It includes a handwritten sheet in Dutch that takes the family back eight generations in Friesland.
- My box would also contain my great grandfather’s yearbooks from Law School. Edwin Alonzo Niess attended Columbian University (Now George Washington University) in Washington DC and graduated in 1895 with a degree in Law. He had two year books from the same year and one is virtually untouched. The second one , interestingly enough, has copies of his classmates obituaries either taped over their class pictures or placed on the same page with the picture. Item number four.
- Item number five should be my laptop because it has pictures, stories and most importantly my database on it. I use it daily and it gets more use than my desktop computer. I would put this at the top of the box because it would be the first thing I would remove.
- Photos! Photos of my ancestors, photos of me as a child, photos of my children and grandchildren. This would include a photo album I inherited that belonged to my great-grandmother’s sister, Rosa Gantt Hamilton, and one that belonged to my father. I love these albums. Item number six.
- My grandfather, Henry A.W. Lindgren, was an ironworker and I have a beautiful stool that he made. This has to go in my box! Number seven in my Genealogy Disaster Box. In addition to the dust, do you see the holes around the edge of the stool? At one time there was a cushion that was threaded on this stool. I feel blessed just to have the stool ~ even if the cushion is missing!
- Item number eight are two school books, each belonging to different sides of the family.
- The oldest book is from 1878 and the one my great-grandfather, Edwin A. Niess had. It starts with an essay he wrote “How I spent the Summer Vacation of 1878.” One hundred and thirty years to the date later, his great-granddaughter is actually touching the page he wrote on as a child. Goose bump time! One page in this book contains a sheet titled “Book Account beginning Sept. 1883” and lists the books he purchased (including Othello, King Lear) the date, and how much he paid (6 cents for Othello on Oct. 15 when he was 16.) This is a great chronicle of his early education.
- The other book belonged to my grandfather, Henry Lindgren. This book is from 1894, and he has signed his name Henry Lindgreen, since this was the name that the family came through Ellis Island with. It was changed back through the court system in the 1920’s, although the use of the correct name was assumed earlier. His book starts out with the words to the song “Columbia the Gem of the Ocean.” He was nine years old in 1894 and every page in this book is full.
- The ninth item in the box are all of my father’s passports and his discharge from the service. They are connections to the places he traveled and when he did. The discharge is in a leather folder.
- For the tenth item, I would add my great-grandparents wedding book. What makes this special is the fact that my great-great-grandfather married them! He filled out the certificate in the book and is one of many signatures of his I have in my collection. The date of 18 September 1890 is exactly 100 years before my father’s death date. I treasure this book!
My list could go on and on, but my box is not big enough. Hopefully, I’d have time to grab another box and fill that one, too! Not only would be a shame if I had to leave anything behind but it would be a tragedy.
I am caretaker of too many family heirlooms.