Monthly Archives: December 2013

Birthday Presents

My birthday was earlier this month. I love my mother, but she’s not always really good with the present giving. Sometimes they’re really odd.

Last year was an uncompleted and odd-shaped kitchen apron and matching hot pad. They’re still not completed as they were packed up during our move and whatever box they were put in has not been unpacked yet (we have a few of those boxes left).

Oh, and for my son’s 18th birthday, it was a dancing and singing dog thing. That did not survive either his move to college or our move to here.

But this year…. This year was very cool.

My grandmother, Mom’s mom, died this fall, just shortly before her 90th birthday. She’d been declining for a while, had outlived all her husbands, so it was not a surprise when I got the call. Being the only daughter, Mom got some of her jewelry and other small things, some of which she sent to me to share with my daughters.

The main part of the package, tied with a big red bow was just for me. It is a sterling silver hand mirror, the type with the long handle that were usually part of vanity sets. It’s not very ornate, has a few dings and scratches, the reflective surface isn’t very shiny or smooth. But there is a fancy engraved “R” on the reverse. Which took me a minute, because none of my grandmother’s names started with “R”.

The note from Mom helped me figure some of it out. Grandma got it from her grandmother — and Mom thought that was the end of it, but this great-great-grandma also had no R names. But great-great-grandma’s mother’s maiden name was Roberts. So it looks like great-great-great-grandma Roberts probably had this mirror at some point. Mom does remember that there were more pieces to the vanity set when she was a small child. First thought was that this is where it ends.

Then I was able to make out a maker’s mark on the mirror and with the help of some younger better eyes (my daughter’s) was able to figure out it was a JEB Co., in fancy script — and very very tiny (at least to my eyes). James E Blake Co existed from about 1898 to about 1938.

Great-great-great-grandma Roberts was born in 1861, married in 1878, and died in 1941. But if she married in 1878, would she have gotten a mirror with an R, her maiden name initial, 20+ years after that? So what about her mom? My 4x great-grandmother Jones was born in 1834, married in 1857 to a Roberts, and died in 1934 (just 5 months shy of 100). So she would have been a Roberts during the right time period.

Can’t tell I like family history, can you?

So, at the end, all I really know is a I was lucky enough to get a family heirloom for my birthday, something that goes back to at least my 3rd-great-grandmother, maybe further, and is around a hundred years old.

Pretty darn cool. 🙂

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