Exploring your own family history inevitably leads you to go through boxes of old photos and personal items that once belonged to your grandparents, great grandparents, or other relatives, a process that usually uncovers certain family treasures, or heirlooms.
Heirlooms are tangible pieces of our family’s past, linking generations together in ways far beyond the objects physical value. They often become cherished reminders of loved ones that have passed away. More often than not, they also have a story behind them and why they have been passed down from generation to generation.
When I began looking into my own family history, it wasn’t long after that I uncovered several heirlooms and that these items have special meaning. I recall the expression on my grandmother’s face when she unpacked her father’s wallet, as well as her grandfather’s, and how she held them. Although they were old wallets of no real value, they had significant sentimental value to my grandmother. I also recall how my great grandmother always wore the same small, flower-sapped earrings with small stones in them, because they belonged to and reminded her of her mother. Since her passing, they are worn by my Mom.
Here is a list of some of the heirlooms I uncovered belonging to various relatives in my own family:
- A small diamond and sapphire broach belonging to a 2nd great grandmother
- A ring belonging to a 2nd great grandfather
- A pair of earrings belonging to a 2nd great grandmother
- A pair of eye glasses belonging to a 2nd great grandmother
- A hand made quilt made by a great grand aunt
- A wallet belonging to a 2nd great grandfather
- A miner’s lantern belonging to a great grandfather
- A World War II Honorable Service Lapel Pin and Uniform Patch (aka the “Ruptured Duck” pin and patch) belonging to a great grandfather
- A wallet belonging to a great grandfather
- A sword and uniform worn during the Spanish-American War belonging to a 2nd great grandfather
- A diary from a 2nd great grandmother about her and her families’ journey to Oregon during the Great Depression
- An Hungarian prayer book belonging to 2nd great grandparents
- A rosebush that was originally planted by a 2nd great grandmother, clippings of which have been paced down to several in my family
Heirlooms are wonderful family treasures and interesting to learn about and preserve for future generations.