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 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."