Art in Artifacts- The Friendship Handkerchief of Bess Dorothy Green Broida



1909_GREEN_Bess Dorothy_Friendship Handkerchief-1

Bess Dorothy Green (1891-1978) owned this beautiful Friendship Handkerchief. The date on it is July 1909, and it contains the signatures of many friends and family members, all hand embroidered. The different colors, but especially the styles of the stitching, suggest that more than one person did the embroidery- maybe each person stitched their own name after signing the handkerchief, or just a few persons did the stitching as a gift for Bessie.

Bessie was just 19 when she married Phillip E. Broida on 08 Mar 1910, so this may possibly have been a gift for an engagement party, wedding shower, etc. if they had a long engagement. Sweetly, his initials, “P B” were inserted just above her name and under the month.

Below are images of sections of the handkerchief and a list of the names embroidered.

Bessie’s Friendship Handkerchief- 1 (pictured above post)
1909 July – Bess Dorothy Green, Stella Palfrey, Eloise Toomlis, Mrs. J. N. Massey, Mrs. M. Cohn, Margarett Unswer, Mrs. Morris Rosenbloom, Leonie Dolan, Pho Arii – Beatrice Crow?, Bessie Keller, Hazel P. Jones, Laura Keller, Helena Crow?


1909_GREEN_Bess Dorothy_Friendship Handkerchief-2

Bessie’s Friendship Handkerchief- 2
Ethel N. Leake, Rose Razawe?, Emma Grindhaven?, Stella Palfrey, Mrs. M. Cohn Margarett Uaawer? Mrs. J. N. Massey


1909_GREEN_Bess Dorothy_Friendship Handkerchief-3

Bessie’s Friendship Handkerchief- 3
Mary Schall, Becky Caplin, Charlene B. McClure, Anna Green Stampfer, Charlene B. McClure, Mary Schall, Nancy Yather


1909_GREEN_Bess Dorothy_Friendship Handkerchief-4

Bessie’s Friendship Handkerchief- 4
Stellla Palfrey, Eloise Toomlis, Charlene B. McClure, Becky Caplin, Eloise Toomlis, Margarett Us, Helena Crow, Grinhaven, N. Lenke, Ragawe


1909_GREEN_Bess Dorothy_Friendship Handkerchief-5

Bessie’s Friendship Handkerchief- 5
Edna A. Stelle, Willie C. McClure, Nellie M. Quinn, G. Newmark, Sara Ellen White, Esther G. Golomb, Adele Brown, Lena Goldberg, Tameranos


1909_GREEN_Bess Dorothy_Friendship Handkerchief-6

Bessie’s Friendship Handkerchief- 6
Mary White, Pauline B. Stamerson, Marion G. Newmark, Bessie Keller, Ellen White, Edna A. Stelle, Elma L. St Clair


Marion G, Newmark, B. Stamersen, Sara Ellen White

Bessie’s Friendship Handkerchief- 7
Marion G. Newmark, B. Stamersen, Sara Ellen White


Estelle Green Ledwidge, Clara Lee Yatter, Bessie Keller,

Bessie’s Friendship Handkerchief- 8
Estelle Green Ledwidge, Clara Lee Yatter, Bessie Keller


1909_GREEN_Bess Dorothy_Friendship Handkerchief-9

Bessie’s Friendship Handkerchief- 9
Etta J Newmark, Mary Yatter, Etta J. Newmark, Willie C. McClure, Adele Brown, Lena Goldberg


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Copyright 2013 by Heritage Ramblings Blog, pmm & jrw.

Armistice Day- Ethel Underwood Whitener Remembers

Grave site of Charles Underwood – Old Trace Creek Church Cemetery, Bollinger County, Missouri
Grave site of Charles Underwood – Old Trace Creek Church Cemetery, Bollinger County, Missouri


Armistice Day

Ethel Underwood Whitener always remembered where she had been on 11-11-11. (That was the 11th month, the 11th day and the 11th hour, 1918).

As a fourteen year old girl, she was walking across the field from her home down toward her grandparents home. This is probably a 20 minute walk on a pleasant day. At 11 A.M. the Old Trace Creek Church bells tolled indicating the signing of the Armistice. Although this was in Bollinger County, southeast Missouri, and in the US central time zone, it was a celebration of an event that had occurred earlier in France which officially ended World War I.

Just a few days before that she had been one of those who mourned at the burial of her uncle – Charles Underwood (1888-1918). He was a casualty of the Great Influenza Epidemic. His body had been returned to his home after service in the US Army. There had not been too many people at that service because of fear in the community of the contagion of the disease.

When she got to her grandparents’ home,  her grandmother Elizabeth Adeline (Rickman) Underwood was standing on the porch. She said, “They won’t get any more of my boys.”

(Elizabeth was the mother of Emroe, Will, John, Zach and Charles  Underwood. Ethel was the oldest daughter of Will and Nellie.)

By James Richard Whitener


Notes, Sources, and References:

1) Whitener family oral history
2) Elizabeth Adeline (Rickman) Underwood on Find A Grave:
3) The “Spanish Flu”  or “La grippe”outbreaks of  1918-1919 were more deadly than war. WWI caused the death of an estimated 16 million persons; the flu pandemic, however, killed over 50 million people worldwide, or one-fifth of the population. Young adults, a population normally not as widely affected by such viruses, were hit very hard by this influenza, as were the young and elderly. Over 25% of the US population was affected by this flu (ten times as many as were lost in “The Great War”, and life expectancy in this country decreased by 12 years in 1918. One half of the American soldiers lost in WWI died from influenza, not the enemy, as did Charles Underwood. Funerals were often regulated by the public health system to only 15 minutes, to avoid further spread of the disease.
“The Deadly Virus. The Influenza Epidemic of 1918.” A National Archives Exhibition (online). Accessed 11-12-13.
“The Influenza Pandemic of 1918.” Accessed 11-12-13.
4) Photo: Grave site of Charles Underwood – Old Trace Creek Church Cemetery, Bollinger County, Missouri.
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Copyright 2013 by Heritage Ramblings Blog, jrw & pmm.

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



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


Helbling gravy boat-2
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.

Helbling gravy boat_closeup
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.

Helbling gravy boat_mark
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:

3) Noritake history:

4) Similar:


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Copyright 2013 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

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

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.