My mother, Audrey Meinzen Doyle, is sitting in what has become a family heirloom. I can't tell if she has a little scowl on her face or if it's curiosity I see as she peers at us. I love the big bow in her hair, the little doll in her lap, and her plump little hands. I'm still surprised when I see photographs of furniture out-of-doors, away from its natural, protected environment inside a house or building.
This little rocker sat in our home all the while I was growing up, used by my siblings and me as we grew into and out of its size. It continued to sit in my parents' living room during the years little grandchildren visited and it remained there until we removed my mother's possessions from her home before selling the house. The little rocker came home with me; its sister piece of furniture, a little cupboard built of the same dark-stained oak, went home with my sister.
My mom was born in 1915 in Warren, Ohio, but after her first two or three years lived the rest of her life in nearby Mineral Ridge. I'm guessing the approximate date of this photograph as 1920 because Mom looks about 5. Could this be a birthday photo (she was born in June) with a birthday gift of the rocker?
Mom once told me that her grandfather made this chair for her but she never named which grandfather. In some families that might not cause uncertainty but in my family it does: both of my mother's grandfathers were carpenters! The grandfathers in question are her maternal grandfather, Edward Jesse Bickerstaff, left, and her paternal grandfather, Henry Carl Meinzen, right.
Edward J. and his wife, Mary Thompson, also lived in Mineral Ridge. In 1920 Edward J. turned 49 years old. He was a carpenter by trade, built homes, and was experienced with tools. Henry C. lived in Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio, in 1920, with his wife Elizabeth Armitage. Henry turned 83 in 1920. On nearly every record his occupation is different but on one record he was listed as a carpenter, on another as a wagon maker. Clearly he had carpentry skills. Considering the ages of the
grandfathers in 1920 and considering that Edward J. lived nearby and Henry C. lived some distance away, my guess is that Edward J. was the builder of Mom's rocker.
Until just a month or ago the little rocker sat bundled in our attic. I thought of it when the Abundant Genealogy theme was Family Heirlooms. Though it sits idle for the time being, with a grandbaby coming along it won't be too long till a little one will enjoy the rocker once again.
Click through to Sepia Saturday and see what photographs other participants have posted this week.