Sunday, February 5, 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy: Week 6 Family Heirlooms

This is the sixth week of Amy Coffin’s series on Abundant Genealogy. 

Week 6 – Family Heirlooms:  For which family heirloom are you most thankful? How did you acquire this treasure and what does it mean to you and your family?

I have a houseful of heirlooms – a treadle sewing machine, several washstands, drop-leaf tables, a corner cupboard, old photos, old photo albums, china, crystal, silver, chairs, hats, school books, I could go on.  But a favorite?  That’s not fair!

If I have to choose, and I guess I do, I will say a fireside chair that isn’t even in MY house.  It’s a FAMILY heirloom all right, but I’m not the caretaker.  My sister is.

This chair is from my great-great-grandfather’s boyhood home in Greene County, Virginia.  That dates this chair to the late 1830s-early 1840s IF it were new then.  I can imagine young James Franklin Jollett sitting in that chair while tending the fire under the watchful eyes of his parents Fielding and Mary Ann.  Maybe Mary Ann took a rest now and then while stirring the stew.

While the seat and back are normal size for an adult, the short legs make it look like a child’s chair.  I suppose children liked the chair because it did not require climbing; they could easily plop down with both feet firmly on the floor. 

Apparently the chair was painted green at one time as evidenced by the paint that did not come out of the wood grain when James Franklin’s granddaughter (my grand aunt) Violetta Davis Ryan had the chair refinished.  The wood is probably poplar, rather soft wood, smooth from the many hands that held on to the slats for support or to position the chair more comfortably, hands that painted, removed paint, sanded, varnished, and rubbed it back to life countless times. 

Because the chair is so old, because it has been in the family through at least 5 generations, the Jollett fireside chair tops my list of favorite family heirlooms.


  1. How special to have kept an heirloom in such great condition over five generations in the family! Actually, Wendy, I envy you for the many family keepsakes that you mentioned. They must be reminders of so many stories from your families' heritage.

  2. I love that chair too. I'm feeling a little guilty for having it over here when you like it so much, maybe you could use it some of the time and I'll use the corner cabinet some of the time ;-)

  3. Wendy, I understand that it would be very difficult to select just one heirloom. Aren't we lucky that we have a selection to chose from? Your chair looks like new. It must get lots of tender loving care from your family. It is a treasure. Colleen

  4. I Love The Idea That We Are Caretakers For Our Treasures Rather Than Users or Owners.