Thursday, May 3, 2012

Family History Plays a Part

Blog post by Ciara Gold


I love family history! I think I may have inherited my mother's "genealogical" gene. She's quite the bloodhound when it comes to finding information on ancestors.

My grandmother's parents (mom's side) have an interesting story. My great grandfather came over in the late 1800s and settled in Georgetown, Texas. He had a farm where he grew cotton but at one point in time, he also ran an ice cream parlor in town. His sister was still in Switzerland along with his future bride. Great grandmother was born on the "wrong side of the blanket" and because of her illegitimacy, was doomed to domestic work with little chance at a good marriage. She agreed to come to America and marry my great grandfather without having met him, on her friend's recommendation alone. Her friend being great grandfather's sister. 

So that's the watered down version and one of these days I plan to write a story just for them. They must have gotten along fairly well because they had a long and fruitful marriage.
Because of our family love of handed down heirlooms, I tend to use some of these items in my stories. Great grandfather's story led me to search for the demitasse spoon that came from his ice cream parlor so I could share it here. Alas, I have temporarily misplaced that spoon but it led me to the rest of my collection. I haven't looked at it in years but I'm wishing I'd pulled it out sooner. Among the odds and ends I've collected over the years are two salt spoons.


The cowboy of the old west didn't have access to salt shakers like we know them. Instead, salt was put in cellars.  These cellars would be common practice until around 1940 and of course, to dip into these small bowls of salt, one usually used a small salt spoon. I'm having a hard time picturing the gruff ole cowboy using one of these dainty items. I imagine on the trail, they didn't use much salt as that would have been a luxury.
I found another spoon that has always sparked my curiosity. It's hand wrought by a Native American tribe. I spent time researching and I believe it's of Navajo origins dating before WWII, early 1900s. When I hold it, I feel connected to the four winds as reflected by the symbol gracing the tip of the handle.

The historical western I'm working on now features a blacksmith. Not your typical "cowboy" but he has all those wonderful qualities we assign to the "cowboy". While he's not a silversmith, he would have to go through some of the same steps a silversmith might enjoy to make various metal items, only on a grander scale. Pounding hot metal is no easy task. I plan to write more on this topic later. Anyway, the spoons have sparked an idea for a scene so I guess I'll close for now.

www.ciaragold.com
http://ciaragold.blogspot.com/

10 comments:

Lyn Horner said...

Thanks for sharing a bit of your family history, Ciara. I've done some ancestry research. It's addicting!

Love seeing some of your spoon collection, especially that Navaho spoon.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Ciara, I loved your post. I am currently writing (in addition to my fiction WIP) a book on my father's family. I've found, with the help of various relatives, some wonderful stories that will fuel my fiction. Plus, I enjoy genealogy--not the dates people were born and died, although that's interesting, but the details I discover about their lives.Thanks for a nice reminder today.

Paty Jager said...

Fun post about your family and a great segue into the book you're working on. I enjoy books with characters of the west who weren't cowboys. These characters were just as crucial to the development of the country and even more so.

Devon Matthews said...

Ciara, your great-grandparents' history sounds like the basis for a wonderful story. I hope you write it someday. I have a couple of old quilts I treasure that were sewn by my grandmother. A love for quilting is something I have in common with her. I plan to touch on that in a future post. Thanks for sharing your family history.

Ginger Simpson said...

Enjoyed your post, Ciara, but then I think if you wrote the phone book, I would read it. :) Beautiful spoons. I wish I collected something besides dust. :)

Tanya Hanson said...

Wonderful tidbits of family lore! I love it when real life gets put into a story! Go for it. I love the spoon and actually have a salt cellar LOL.

Ciara Gold said...

Thanks so much everyone and Ginger, I feel the same about your writing. LOL. And yep, one of these days I'm gonna write their story. I'm saving it for retirement so I can do that one justice.

mesadallas said...

I noticed right off that the Native American spoon with the four winds symbol would easily be mistaken for a Swastika. Hitler borrowed the symbol from the Hindu because it means "good luck." I have seen the same symbol on rock paintings made by Native Americans but I didn't know what it stood for. Thank you! I learned something new today!

Ciara Gold said...

You're welcome, Mesadallas. I love when I learn something new too. Makes life rich and fulfilling.

Jacquie Rogers said...

Love your family story, and love the spoons! I giggle every time I think of the old farmers of my youth using a salt spoon--yet, just a few decades before, that's exactly what they did. Can't wait for the story about your great grandparents. :)