Years ago, my mother mentioned an old pitcher that came from my dad’s side of the family. She said she needed to get it out someday.
Years later, she got it out. It seems my great Aunt Vera had given it to Daddy as it belonged to his maternal great-grandmother, my great-great. We looked at, found the stamp on the bottom and wondered where it came from. Rumor was that this great-great-grandmother had lived in Tennessee. But this preceded my interest in genealogy and we left it at that.
The pitcher continued to reside at my parent’s home…one of those “look don’t touch” items. Which was ok by me as it was safe up there on its shelf.
Then Mother decided I needed to take charge of the pitcher. She brought it to me on one of her trips to Kansas. It wasn’t a particularly beautiful pitcher but the shape of it was intriguing. And I wondered about its history. A lot! By now, I was a regular visitor to the regional Genealogical Library 40 miles away. I had researched this side of the family but hit a brick wall every time I attempted to find the owner of this pitcher. With no maiden name and no marriage records, I had all but given up on finding her.
Mother and I sat chatting about the pitcher when I picked it up and turned it upside down to check the stamp…did it say “Wheeung Pottery Co.”? What kind of name was that? But this was also pre-internet days also and the chances of figuring out where the pitcher came from was remote at best.
But when I turned it upside down, a yellowed piece of paper fell out. And in Mother’s handwriting, I read:
HOLY COW!!! I had hit the Mother Lode in genealogy. Evidently, Mother had written the information that Aunt Vera gave her all those years ago and stuck it inside the pitcher! Some family members thought great-great-granny’s given name was Elizabeth, but this gave us her entire name!!! I ran to the library as soon as I could get there and there I found more information!
And then. THE INTERNET came. And Ancestry.com and country records and digitized census records and maps and cemetery directories….I was officially hooked.
So now, I have a pitcher that I know belonged to Mary Elizabeth who was born in Tennessee and died in Kentucky (why we don’t know…but it was just over the state line from the home place???). She never came to Texas with her children but her pitcher did.
I like to think about the trip that pitcher took from Tennessee to Texas. Mostly the brothers came first but most likely, Ela Mae, Mary Elizabeth and James Madison Groom’s fourth daughter, came with her brothers to Texas. How that pitcher survived the near 750 mile wagon trip is a wonder!
No, it’s not blue, but I love it just as much as if it were!!!
The moral of this story is…always turn an empty pitcher upside down. You never know what will fall out!
Oh…it wasn’t “Wheeung Pottery”…it was Wheeling Pottery Co. out of Ohio and in business since 1879. My pitcher is one of a kazillion but is special nonetheless!!