Keys to it all …

I found this keyring at my parents’ home when we were clearing it out. I sort of remember seeing it at my mother’s parents house. There are seven keys on the ring and a tag.

The tag in the middle reads:

For the prompt return of these keys if lost one dollar reward or drop in any letter box.

The reverse side reads:

Liberty Registry Co. will identify owner by number 23203. Free Press Bldg, Detroit, Mich.

I found a listing for the Liberty Registry Co. in the 1921 Michigan Gazetteer, page 619:

Liberty Registry Co, Mrs. Anna Stein, mgr, Ins agts, 620 Free Press bldg.

There are times I wish knew to what these keys belonged. I have tried a couple of them on furniture that was inherited and belonged to my maternal grandparents.

One of the keys will lock the drop lid on Grandma Weaver’s secretary.

One of the other keys will lock Grandma Florence’s cedar chest that was made by her father.

I tried one of the keys on the dresser that my great-grandfather made which is in the possession of my daughter.

The rest are a mystery.

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Grandma Weaver’s Plate

This plate resided in my mother’s china cabinet. Always as a display item in the dining room. First on display in the mahogany secretary, then in the dining room hutch, and finally mounted on the wall with other special plates. The only thing I was ever told about it that it was her grandmother’s (Effie Clarissa Lee Weaver’s) plate. I do not ever remember it being used, it was for display only and for Mom to have a memory of her grandmother who was a large part of her life. The label on the back says it is MZ Austria. The company was famous for its hand-painted plates. Grandma Weaver was born in Southfield, Oakland County, Michigan on 3 August 1859 – 2 years before the beginning of the American Civil War, and died on 11 August, 1945 – 4 days before VJ Day and the end of World War II.


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Salt and Pepper – times gone by.

Silver Salt Cellar and Pepper Shaker

This sterling sliver Salt Cellar (and spoon) and Pepper shaker was always in my grandparents’ china cabinet. I must admit I never noticed it or asked about its origin when there was someone who could give me the details. My mother inherited it form her parents and I from my parents. Both items are in the form of a walnut — the salt cellar is half a shell while the pepper shaker is the complete shell standing upright. The bottom of the pepper shaker screws off to fill it.

When you think about it it is a much more civilized, not to mention health conscious, way to use salt instead of shaking it and hoping the flow is not too great.


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Grandma Florence kept time

My maternal grandmother, Florence Marie Koontz, had this watch and I found it at my parents’ home as part of the cleaning out. The engraving is FMK and the date on the fob (right photograph) is 1905. The clip fob on the right picture is the actual fob used by Grandma. All proper young ladies wore these in the early 1900s. More so, if they were in a work environment. Grandma graduated from Columbus High School with a diploma in Commercial Business – I think that means should could be a secretary, store clerk, or bookkeeper. If I remember correctly, Grandma did all three.

All this went into a drawer with the advent of the Ladies’ Wrist Watch. Sometimes, I am not so enchanted with the newer version.

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Grandma Florence Collected Depression Glass

Some of the items that was prevalent at my grandparents’ home were a number of these pink glass items to which I really did not pay a lot of attention growing up. Another “wish I had asked.” After Grandma moved from the family home to an apartment, my aunt and my mother divided up the collection that would not fit in the scaled back apartment. I was still clueless as to what this was. Then, when cleaning out my parents’ home after the death of my father, I found the great collection AND books on depression glass that my mother had purchased. I have not found the above specimen in either of Mom’s books.

These others, the bowl with the decorative work at the rim and the jelly bowl with ladle and underplate, were also part of what was part of Grandma’s collection.

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Grandpa was a loyal Texaco employee

Grandpa’s “Official” Texaco Pencil

As long as I can remember, my Grandpa Lee was a Texaco man! Grandpa was a Sales Manager for the region — basically, as he explained it, he got into his puddle-jumper and made the rounds of the gas stations to make sure they were up to par and were selling as much gas and oil as possible.

When we traveled with grandpa and grandma, running low on gas meant only one thing: find a Texaco station. Going up to Northern Michigan is was a tradition to stop in West Branch – there was a Texaco station on each side of the street — stopped coming and going!

Brand loyalty was not limited to Texaco. During the Depression, Grandpa worked for H.J. Heinz. He was always grateful for the fact that he stayed employed and could support his family during this economic disaster that caused so many people to do without. This created a family mantra that if there was Heinz, that is what was purchased in the grocery store. (I still maintain this tradition).

Now, Grandma, on the other hand, appeared to not be quite so loyal to The Texas Co. Every time someone in Grandma’s family passed away and Grandma received a financial bequest, she immediately invested in stock – stock in Atlantic Richfield! Now, I once asked her why she put her money in Atlantic Richfield (which became AMACO which became British Petroleum) and she got a smile on her face and just said: why put all your eggs in one basket? After Grandpa retired in 1959, future bequests were plowed into Texaco (now Chevron).

Texaco pulled out of Michigan a number of years ago, so I could not keep up the “trust your car to the man who wears a star” tradition — I do not know if they exist anywhere due to the merger / acquisition by Chevron.

But, I have Grandpa’s pencil — the eraser is hard as a rock, but every time I run across the pencil in my desk, I remember Grandpa.

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Aunt Essie’s “sugar bowl”

As we were clearing out my parents’ home after my father’s passing, I found this among the items my mother had accumulated from her parents’ home. The bowl has no marking as to it’s provenance, but the real treasure is the note that was inside of the bowl, in my grandmother’s handwriting:

“Blue white S. Bowl. Belonged to Essie Koontz Spuhler – Essie had this as a girl at home. Early 1900s.”

It makes the found item so much more valuable.

Aunt Essie, Grandma’s oldest sister, is just a vague memory for me. I only remember of ever seeing her once. Grandma and Grandpa would choose one of the grandsons to accompany them on a trip to Massillon where Aunt Essie and Uncle Harold lived. I went as a very young child as Aunt Essie passed away in January of 1953, when I was just 4 years old.

I knew that Aunt Essie and Uncle Harold had no children – and that Uncle Harold was one of the favorites of my mother’s uncles. When I saw a photo of my grandparents’ wedding eve family gathering, I asked my grandmother to identify the people in the picture. She pointed out Louis Postle. Naturally, I asked who he was. Grandma said he was Aunt Essie’s first husband. WHAT? She explained it was not a good marriage and they were divorced and that Aunt Essie later married Uncle Harold, who happened to also be their first cousin, once removed.

It took some time and research, but I finally received the divorce filing from when Aunt Essie’s divorce was finalized in 1922. And, Grandma was really understating the situation. Between the filing and various newspaper articles in which Louis Kincaid Postle was mentioned, a better picture of what it was like. Louis was not in the area when the divorce was processed. Aunt Essie appeared in a number of Columbus, Ohio. city directories at the same address as her mother, my great-grandmother. There were numerous arrests for Louis for D&D.

Of course, newspapers of the time also reported the comings and goings of the Koontz girls. A number of articles appeared reporting that Essie, always in the company of her younger sister, Ethel, had gone to visit the Spuhler family in Massillon.

#heirlooms #Koontz #genealogy

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Another Found item from my grandparents’ attic

An blue wood puzzle block that was in my grandparents attic that we used to drag out just to prove we could put it back together. It was a childhood toy of my mother and aunt.

When you take the block of wood apart, it becomes a set of furniture. The toy is probably 100 years old.

Unfortunately there has been damage over the century. The chair is being held up by a table fitting under it — the two share each other’s missing legs for support.


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Happy 335th Birthday, Grandmother Lee!

335 years ago, 23 April 1666, my 7th Great Grandmother, Abigail Elizabeth Stevens was born in Guilford, Connecticut, to Thomas and Mary Fletcher Stevens.

Abigail married Edward Lee, son of Hugh Lees, in 1687. They were the parents of six: Mary (1689), Sarah (1691), Lemuel (1693), Thomas (1696), Ebenezer (1699) [my 6th great grandfather], and Abigail (1699).

Thomas had two children from his previous marriage to Elizabeth Wright: Joseph (1678) and Samuel (1681). Elizabeth died in 1685.

Per research done on the Stevens family (The 400 Year Story of an American Family, Paul Lee, 2016, p 8) Abigail Stevens 19th [my 26th] great grandfather was Airard Fitz-Stephen (1036- ), a nobleman of Normandy in France. Airard commanded a ship called the “Mora” for William the Norman when he invaded England in 1066. Airard then immigrated to England with William the Conqueror. Land was one of the big spoils of the conquest, and William (after setting aside a good portion for himself), allocated parcels to his loyal followers. The Fitz-Stevens land was in Gloucester.

Airard’s son, Thomas Fitz-Stephen (Abigail’s 18 great grandfather, and my 25th) commanded the White Ship that sank at sea. It was the year 1120 AD and the Norman conquest had fully established itself on the Throne of England with Henry I. The White Ship carried Crown Prince William, son of King Henry I, and a number of the powerful of England. Henry I was left without a male heir and the country disintegrated into civil war upon his death.

#Stevens #Lee #WilliamtheConqueror #genealogy

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Another refugee from my grandparents’ attic

I am not sure why my mother decided to save this little table that was always in her parents’ attic (at least during my lifetime). Possibly, because the upstairs room was shared by her and her sister and the table was in use during the time they lived in the house?

Now, when my mother rescued this little table from the sale at my grandparents’ home during the clean out as my grandmother was moving to an apartment after selling the 1929 purchased home. she asked my cousin to refinish it. The table is now in the finished state, with both leaves extended and held up by the wooden supports that are hinged and fold out of the way when the drop leaves are in their down position.

The manufacturer’s label on the inside of the bottom drawer [thank you, Bruce, for preserving it during your refinishing] says “Conrey-Davis, Shelbyville, Indiana” In looking up the manufacturer, I found that Shelbyville claimed to be “Little Grand Rapids” and as the Furniture City of the “Middle West”. The claim was based on the quality of the product and the world wild demand for the furniture produced.

Many families were drawn to Shelbyville by the need for workers and craftsmen.  Indiana had an abundance of white oak and walnut trees.  The railroad, well established by now, brought the lumber in and took finished products to their destination.

The table now resides in the room with my great grandmother’s side chair (see earlier post on the flower carved back chair that my mother recreated the seat cover with needle point flowers]


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