Trinkets & treasures


Inevitably, there are items that end up collecting dust. Some are hard to use in the present; a smaller, easier, or more versatile item has taken its place. Others will always collect dust. Still, there are ways to help your children learn how their ancestors lived.

Can anyone guess the use for this very old box?

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It has been around as long as I can remember. No wonder; it was given to me when I was very young, and then watched the cobwebs in my parents’ attic for 50 years. I’m ashamed to admit the only person alive who remembers its use is my sister. I had forgotten.

Made with very sturdy cardboard, covered with a thin mesh, and held together with leather and metal tacks or rivets, my grandma Lalla used it to carry her books to school when she was a girl. Grandma was born in 1898. Her father was a carpenter, and our guess is it was he–Elmer Butterfield–who made this treasure, 120 years ago, for his daughter.

That’s Elmer on the right and Lalla next to him (luckily in both photos) during the time when grandma likely used this box. This is our only photo of grandma’s childhood home in Minneapolis.

What have I done with this box? It sits on my desk and holds papers and photos, housing my current projects.

Antique doll furniture, tea pots, and other miniatures

butterfield lalla_mineature wooden doll couch_made by elmer butterfield (13)This little gem has always been a delight, and I believe, made by the same man, my great grandfather. It belonged to Lalla evidenced by her name in three places. I added mine. Note the detail and leaf patterns. It must have been made for little girls, circa early 1900s.

My grandma Margaret loved tea. So much so, that by the time she lived in her last little house below, her family room was adorned with her collection. That’s grandma in the corner, my mom (with broken ankle), her brother David, and in the other photo, standing next to mom is their oldest sister, Joy. Tea pots can be spotted throughout the room.

The pink tea pot with roses was a gift to grandma from my mother in the late 50s.  The tiny, single-serve pot was the last one grandma used before she died.

Miniatures have fascinated me for years, and I blame the television show Land of the Giants. I’ve collected ceramic kittens, puppies, and other figurines. I can’t help myself. It’s probably why I asked mom if I could have the miniature punch bowl given to her by her step grandma, Mollie.

Mom was about 10 when she received the set. Inside the bowl mom remembers a collection of fruit: an orange, and grapes and raisins. Mollie wanted mom to be able to make punch.

mazzoncini_Mollies punch bowl (3)In the photos below are my great grandfather James Marshall Patterson, his second wife Mollie, and my grandma, his daughter, Margaret Adelaide Patterson.

What have I accomplished on this page?

I’ve taught my children about the box, the wooden couch, the tea pots, and the punch bowl. They now know who made or owned the item, and roughly the year. I’ve included a photo of the owner, hoping to make the connection easier, and even better, a memory from mom.

If you still don’t know where to begin, take another look at the QUESTIONS on the Create Ancestor Profiles page.

Happy Profiling!


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