Monday, April 26, 2010

E. J., the Coffee, and His Moustache

This is my great-grandfather, Edward Jesse Bickerstaff. He was born in Jefferson County, Ohio, on April 27, 1871. He and his twin sister, Alice, were the 3rd and 4th children of Ellis and Emma (Nelson) Bickerstaff. Alice died three weeks after she was born, and E. J.'s mother died in May, 1878, when he was but 7 years old.

I haven't learned yet whether he and his family moved to Mineral Ridge first and their daughter Emma's husband-to-be, William Carl Robert Meinzen, followed; or whether Emma and her husband moved to the Ridge, and E. J. and the rest of his family followed. Either way, they all ended up living in small village of Mineral Ridge.

I love it when someone I know remembers something specific about an ancestor I've never met. My brother, Bob, has a great memory, back to when he was 5 or 6 years old. He remembers being at Gramma Meinzen's house when her father, E. J., was there for lunch. He sat rocking in the oak rocker that was next to Gramma Meinzen's dining table, and then,
Grandma Meinzen fixed lunch for Great Grandpa Bickerstaff. I've no idea what she served him. I do know that she made coffee and set a cup of coffee before him on a saucer. I remember that he took the cup of coffee and poured part of it into the saucer and then blew on it to cool it without spilling a drop. He then drank the coffee from the saucer and not the cup. After doing so he put his index finger (I don't recall whether left or right) and sucked the coffee off his moustache, first on one side then the other. I found that rather strange but was probably too afraid to say anything at the time.
I think it's interesting what things we remember. Out of all the many interactions we have with others, sometimes it's the little, odd moments that stay with us. And in this story, I don't know which seems odder: drinking coffee from the saucer or sucking the coffee off his moustache. Either one would be considered very bad manners today, but in those days.... I don't know....

Great-Grampa E. J., I wish you a wonderfully happy birthday today. I'm looking forward to meeting you.


  1. That's funny! His photo makes him look far to distinguised to drink coffee from a saucer or suck it from his moustache!

  2. That's a really great memory. Maybe he just did that at home but if he went out to eat he acted differently.

  3. He does look very distinguished. I suspect that his "home manners" were different than his public manners.

    Thanks for coming by.

  4. I love looking through old photographs of people. Sometimes, their expressions make you wonder just what they were really like if you were in their 'inner circle' of friends.

    I don't think everyone in old photographs were nearly as serious as they looked..

  5. Teachinfourth, I think because people had to be still for such a long time, and it's hard to hold a smile for very long without moving, that the photos turned out best when they kept straight faces. It's been interesting to learn about the personalities of some of my ancestors from stories. Thanks for coming to visit.

  6. Thanks Nancy, it's wonderful to read about all the family memories. So glad you shared! I have passed on some of this info about the Bickerstaff family to my half-sister, who is also a Bickerstaff. She doesn't remember her father, Daniel Isaac Bickerstaff, and I've been collecting all I can for her. Thanks so much for sharing so that she may have some idea of who the Bickerstaff family was.

    1. Hi, Anonymous. I recognize the name of Daniel Isaac Bickerstaff but I can't place exactly how he fits into my Bickerstaff line. I hope you come back to read this comment and leave me a message. If you use the search box on the left sidebar you can search on "Bickerstaff" or go go to the bottom of the blog and click on "Bickerstaff" in the Post Topics list.


I appreciate your comments and look forward to reading what you have to say. Thanks for stopping by.

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