Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Mystery of the Chinese Box

The Chinese Box, 2017, photo by Midge Frazel
The Mystery of the Chinese Box
Who doesn't love a good mystery?

This family heirloom, given to me by my grandmother, was a favorite thing of mine to play with whenever I visited my grandparent's home.The top has a storage area not easily shown in this photo. A locked drawer (with a key) and two storage drawer make it a useful and fun heirloom.

Before she died, my mother wanted me to write down whatever I could remember about things that my grandmother or grandfather owned. Fortunately for me, I knew my mother had an ulterior motive, she wanted me to appreciate and keep all of the family antiques. As this is a common problem of all genealogists, I pulled out the notes I took those days I interviewed her. 

Most all of that furniture I sold when my mother died because it would never have fit in my small house. My grandmother, not a sentimental person would have understood. My mother would have been very angry.

I enjoyed talking to Grandma about some of the things and when I got to this box, she told me to put it out in our car. My mother saw me do that and interrupted me when I asked my grandmother about it. She thought it ugly so why would I want that? The answer was simple, I used to play with it when I stayed at my grandparents house. My parents went to parties and I stayed with my grandmother.  I never asked where they went and never mentioned what I did. 

What I wrote down that day was that this box was "owned by Mrs. Morgan of Westerly". Until this week, I have not know who that might have been. While researching houses that my maternal family lived in, I found out that my great uncle Harold's wife, Martha Blanchard was a housekeeper for Mrs. Charles A. Morgan and his wife Clara. 

When Uncle Harold (my grandmother's oldest sibling) married Martha, Harold moved in and they lived with this Morgan family. Clara died in 1912. The Chinese box may have been a wedding gift for my grandparents who married in 1914. The Morgans had no children and neither did Harold and his wife Martha. It takes time to find women's maiden names but between Martha's family and my Westerly contacts, I started to piece it together.


Norwich bulletin. (Norwich, Conn.),
27 Dec. 1912. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014086/1912-12-27/ed-1/seq-6/>
This box must have been given to my grandparents in 1914 by my grandmother's brother, Harold Schofield Barber and his wife Martha Blanchard.

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