Mystery Monday- Jasper Co., Iowa Students, circa 1899?

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Ah, the delightful pictures with no names, no dates, but you just KNOW there is someone in the picture that belongs in your family…

This is another one of those pictures. It was found in with old photographs of the George Anthony Roberts (Sr.) family. After much study of this and other images over the years, I now believe the boy on the left of the picture is George Anthony Roberts, Jr. I do not know the other children, nor why they were in the uniforms they wore, nor why they had the broom handles. I wonder if this had to do with the Spanish-American War? We would love to hear from anyone who can explain this picture.

Georgie and his sisters Ethel Roberts and Edith Roberts attended a one-room schoolhouse just down the road from one of the family farms. Might this be a picture of his whole class?

 

[OK, this Mystery Monday post got published on a Tuesday, but I hadn’t thought of that topic when this was originally published.]

 

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Copyright 2013 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Art in Artifacts: Helbling Gravy Boat

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Every once in a while, there is an object that is just SO LOVELY that it becomes a part of your soul, and the above heirloom gravy boat is one of those objects for me.

The gravy boat sat in the china cabinet in our dining room as I grew up. We did not use the dining room very often, and I don’t ever remember using the gravy boat. Maybe it was too precious, or maybe all the cracks in the glaze made it unsafe to use. We didn’t have gravy often- my mother was a minimalist cook, plus she would have had her own gravy boat to match her china. So this lovely object sat in the china cabinet, which really was a museum of our family history and reminder of times gone by. I would lovingly dust it a few times per year, thinking of my grandparents, and how life must have been for my mother growing up, the youngest in a family of eight. It was her job to dust just as it was mine, and I felt her fear of dropping such a beautiful object or even chipping such a special piece that showcased the assets of a family.

So what is a ‘gravy boat’? A gravy boat, sauce boat, or sauciere is an oval table service piece that looks like a low, elongated pitcher. Most have handles for pouring out the sauce; others, such as this, are lower and have one or two long lips at the end, and may have a handle or not. Sauce could be poured but usually a gravy ladle would be used if there was no handle on the gravy boat. Gravy boats had a matching oval plate or saucer that was attached, or it might be separate, as in this piece. The saucer would have a depression into which the foot of the gravy boat sat so it didn’t slide if slippery gravy was dripped onto the plate, or while it was passed hand-to-hand around the big table. The saucer was also important to prevent gravy stains on the nice tablecloth- and that would have been cloth of the old fashioned kind- a linen or cotton that would also need starch and ironing after washing. (They had no quick-wipe plastic or easy care permanent-press polyester tablecloths like we have today.) A matching porcelain gravy ladle might have also been used, or the family might use their sterling silver or silverplate gravy ladle. The oval shape and spout-like ends of the gravy boat are designed to pour but also to hold the ladle without it slipping down into the gravy, though proper manners dictated that the gravy ladle at least start the meal sitting on the saucer. (See source #4 for an example of a similar set with plate.) I do not remember a plate for our treasured heirloom, so it was probably broken long before my time.

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The decoration on this gravy boat is so very delicate and pretty. Sweet pansies or violas were hand painted in two lucious purples, and the raised gold is set off by beautiful white porcelain. It is authentic Noritake Nippon Hand Painted china as it has the correct mark, plus I know the chain of custody. The gravy boat would have been made between 1890 and 1918, probably, as the McKinley Tariff Act required “Japan” be used on imported pieces after 1921, although Japan had already started using the name of their country on export china shortly after WWI.

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This lovely object belonged to Anna Mae Beerbower (1881-1954) and her husband, William Gerard Helbling (1882-1971)- or Gerard William Helbling- he switched the order of his names throughout the years as good Germans often did. They were married 24 November 1904 in St. Louis, Missouri, the year of the World’s Fair. Maybe this was a wedding gift, or a special Christmas, anniversary, or birthday gift. The family was of modest means, but such lovely objects graced their table, even if there was not enough income to buy a lot of food, especially in the tough economies of the 1920s through the 1940s.

Interestingly, a daughter of the family was named Viola Gertrude Helbling (1913-1971). I wonder if my grandmother was partial to violas, the flowers? They have always been a favorite of mine, and my mother loved them too.

Somehow, KFC gravy in a styrofoam cup with plastic lid seems even more unappetizing after thinking about this lovely heirloom gravy boat.

Notes and References:

1) Family oral tradition.

2) Noritake Nippon mark: http://www.noritakecollectorsguild.info/researchers/lisalondon/fakenipponguide.pdf

3) Noritake history: http://www.antique-marks.com/noritake-china.html

4) Similar: http://www.rubylane.com/item/274555-20-229/Vintage-Early-1900-Noritake-Gold

 

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Copyright 2013 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Welcome to “Heritage Ramblings: Musings on Family History”!

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Edward A. McMurray, Jr., with his grandfather George A. Roberts, about 1926.
Edward A. McMurray, Jr., with his grandfather George A. Roberts, about 1926.

 What does one write in a first blog post? Seems like it should be epic and scintillating, entertaining and stimulating, enticing and tempting, and make a reader yearn for more from this blog. Don’t know if we can do all that in this post, but we are going to try to do at least some of that on a regular basis with our family stories we so want to share.

“We” are two married-ins to a wonderful family and have become the unofficial family historians and genealogists and are, of course, totally addicted researchers. We both have been researching our own family lines for a very long time as well, so we DO have a lot of names on the list to blog about- hence the “Ramblings” portion of the blog title. We hope this blog is a good way to share our family stories with those far and near, and a way to get all the generations knowing and understanding their rich heritage. It is really through the stories that we connect to our ancestors.

Of course, we also hope this blog will be “cousin bait”! If you are related to any of these families, we would really love to hear from you and share even more information than possible to include on the blog. Just click on “Contact Us” to send us an email.

Please click on “Follow Our Ramblings” to stay updated on the latest posts. We don’t know how frequently we will be posting, as each time one starts to write a story, it seems there is more research required to fill in newly found holes. Hopefully, though, we can stop researching and tell the stories on a regular basis!

For both of us, family heritage has been a part of our lives for most of our years. We both grew up with grandparents and great-grandparents telling the stories of our families. My grandmother would always tell us, especially when it seemed like we were “in a pickle” in our lives,

“You come from strong pioneer stock. You can do anything you set your mind to.”

This knowledge that was instilled from a young age has helped me conquer many a challenge throughout my lifetime, and I have tried to pass that heritage wisdom on to newer generations.

Grandma even wrote about a dozen stories of growing up on a farm, and gave details about the personalities of each of her beloved family members. These stories are priceless- I feel as if I almost know her parents and other family members, and can feel the drive to make life better, even if it meant moving the family across the Midwest in a covered wagon to new fertile lands. THIS is what family history research is really about- not just dates and places as in a traditional genealogy, but learning the stories and context, and then using that knowledge and connection to enrich our own lives. It is one of the best legacies we receive, and one of the best we can leave behind.

So with this blog we also hope to inspire you to search your own piles of papers and pictures; look for forgotten albums and boxes in the back corners of a closet; talk with family members still around who lived the stories and have the answers to our questions; and make connections with other family members (like us!) who may know a part of the puzzle that you did not. Our family research and our lives have been so enriched by the wonderful cousins we have met along our ramblings, and have helped us embrace the rich heritage that has helped to make us who we are today. We hope that we can do the same for you!

 

Notes and references:
1) George A. Roberts Family Homestead and Farm, Jasper County, Iowa, c1900.

2) Family oral history.

 

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Copyright 2013 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.