Monday, November 21, 2011

Artifacts: Flow Ware Tea Set

Last Tuesday, during the Book Club at Second Life, we all began to mention items we had inherited. It was suggested that we post a picture and a story about these special items from our family history. This is the first such post from my household.

This is the remains of a tea set in a pattern which is called "Flow Ware;" a mistake in an early firing lead to a blurring of the pattern. You can see this on the side of the sugar bowl and the open bowl next to in in the back row.

This tea set belonged to Mary Seitner Lautzenheiser who was aunt-by-marriage to my paternal grandmother on her mother's side and also her second cousin on her father's side. Whenever I visited North Manchester her granddaughters and also my Grandmother referred to Mary as "Grandma Seitner." I am curious about this naming pattern. I do understand why "Grandma" would become the family name, even among relatives who were in reality nieces or cousins; I believe that such use names are still common in the United States in our century.

It is the use of Mary Seitner's maiden name that interests me. My best guess it that there were several "Grandma Lautzenheisers" around town; and that "Grandma Seither" was a way of distinguishing between them. Alas, I shall probably never know why because I didn't think to ask when I was young.

My grandmother inherited these dishes from her aunt and in turn designated that they were to become mine. (She left a piece of paper in one of the teacups that read "for Sue.") They remained in North Manchester until after my aunt died; then Mary Seitner's granddaughters gathered up the tea set and saved it for me.

They told me that my grandmother had inherited the set because she had saved them from a fire. She was visiting the Elias Lautzenheiser farm when a fire broke out. Grandma placed the tea set in a pillow case, then lowered them through a first floor window to the ground. I wasn't told when this happened or how old my grandmother was at the time. Mary Seitner and Elias Lautzenheiser were married in 1852; my grandmother was born in 1858. My guess is that the fire took place after the Civil War, but that is just a guess.

None of the dishes were broken at the time of the rescue, but the set was not complete by the time it came to me. Some of the pieces are chipped and some of the glaze is crazed and discolored. I do not use these dishes; they are on display in a glass fronted case in my dining room. My family and I cherish these artifacts from my "forerunners."


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  2. Thank-you for this post, Sue. I am wondering if the term "grandma" was just meant as an endearing phrase for an older woman in your family. I have an "Aunt Cathryn" and her husband "Uncle Herb" on our family tree. She was clearly my Dad's first cousin, being the daughter of Dad's mother's sister Ethelynn. There are also examples where an elderly man in a Southern US family of the colonial time period was referred to as Colonel, though he never served in the military.

    Mr. Myrt just told me that while he was in the Army in Washington DC, the office manager secretary was known as "mom". She was an older civilian employee, the one that kept their orders in order. As secretary to the Colonel, she made their travel arrangements and typed up their reports in those days before everyone had computers. I asked if that was politically correct to call her that, and he immediately explained this was fine with her. The officers called her "mom" with all due respect and consideration. They really liked her.

  3. DearMYRTLE,

    I agree with you that it is likely that Grandma was an affection term used for older people in the family. It is the use of her maiden name "Seitner" rather than the married name "Lautzenheiser" that makes me curious.

    Since most references to "Grandma Seitner" that I heard were spoken by Mary and Ester Lautzenheiser (her granddaughters) and by their niece (a great granddaughter)it is clear that the family commonly used her maiden name.

    Her second cousin "Lide" Hoover Wantz refers to Mary often; she uses the terms "Mary Eli," "Mary Elias," and "Mary Seitner." (See my blogs on Lide's papers.) So this use of the maiden name seems to be part of the family or of the community tradition but I haven't met it in other places.

    Thanks for you comments.


  4. Thank you for sharing. Some of my most precious items are those which have been in the family for quite some time.

    Regards, Jim
    Hidden Genealogy Nuggets