Showing posts with label Albrecht. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Albrecht. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mother's Tree

If you have read any of the previous posts, you know that I love family history.  I'll admit to being a genealogy junkie.  I can lose an entire day by just sitting down at the computer with my morning coffee and saying to myself, "I wonder if there's anything new on Ancestry."   Pooof .... it's dinnertime!  The dog is whining, the dust bunnies have multiplied, I've forgotten to eat (not a bad thing) and I'm still in my jammies.  Holy crap, batman!

But what you don't know is that I have another passion and that is stitching.  Stitching of any kind ... knitting, quilting, cross stitch, crocheting.  You name it.  If it involves a stitch, I'm game.  My mother taught me to sew when I was in junior high school.  At that time, my older sister was taking home ec in high school and Mom had traded in her old treadle machine for a new electric model.

Mom was an excellent seamstress when she had time; but since her time was limited, she taught her daughters to sew.  Of course, I didn't realize at the time what a wonderful gift it truly was until I was blessed with a daughter who grew to be 6' tall.  Believe me I used every skill she ever taught in lengthening skirts, dresses, pants.  I even made her wedding dress as she was not only long-legged, but also had a long torso. I became a bit suicidal at that point and haven't done much sewing since.

Another gift my mother chose to pass on was how to crochet and embroider. Something to do on a cold winter night or a rainy afternoon.  I must have been fairly young because I don't remember doing either while in high school. After I left home, I taught myself to quilt and knit.  Do you remember those little green Coats & Clark books you bought at the dime store?  That's where I learned to knit. Wonder what ever happened to mine?

To get back to the main theme of today's blog, I decided to combine my love of genealogy with my love of old samplers and stitching.  I found a wonderful pattern called "Mother's Tree" by Lavender & Lace.  This was exactly what I needed to sew an heirloom gift for my only granddaughter.  The pattern records all women in a direct line.

Several years of genealogy research were completed before I even began the stitching.  In the end, I was unable to find the birth date for Anna Maria Conter Mueller.  German church records were not available for her village in that time frame, which I estimated to be around 1750.  I had hoped to perhaps find a death date that might give me a clue; but with the name Anna Mueller, I might as well have been looking for John Smith.  I began to stitch from the bottom up, hoping to find the missing data before I reached the space for her information, but no such luck. I decided it was best to finish it while I was able to do so.  Sometimes life gets in the way and I would have hated to see it end up unfinished and stuffed  in a drawer.

This week I brought it home from the frame shop. It felt like I had given birth!  It represents many years of my life.  It will hang in my home until my granddaughter is old enough to have her own home.  Since she's edging towards 15, it will be several years but hope to still be around to see it hung on her wall.  If not, she will have all my love and a bit of her family history wrapped up in thousands of stitches.  Perhaps it will be passed on.  I asked the framer to leave a bit of extra material tucked away at the bottom in hopes that maybe a future generation will be able to add a name if so desired.

Oh, did I mention that I never want to see DMC color 934 every again?

The stitching gene passed over my only daughter, but I taught my granddaughter, Reghan, to knit and cross stitch when she came to my house after school.  Of course, she's now a busy teenager with many school and sports activities, and stitching is far down her list.  But, I have faith that she will pick it up again someday just as I did.

Next up will be a sampler for my only grandson based totally on his surname.  Now if  I could just pass on the genealogy gene .....

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Sewing Table

One of my most prized possessions is an old sewing table that once belonged to my great-grandmother.  The poor old thing has a long history, but has lovingly been restored and now resides with me.  The table has a drop leaf which extends outward to create work space, but I close the leaf and it becomes a nice end table by my stitching chair.  

My mother remembers it sitting in the corner of  her grandmother's dining room.  It was always open and had a sewing project in progress laying on top. 

 Katherine (Hochstein) Albrecht was born in 1862 in Dane County, Wisconsin.  She was the oldest of seven daughters of John and Susanna (Lenz) Hochstein.  She married Joseph Albrecht at age 16 and 7 children were born in Wisconsin.  The family then moved from Wisconsin to Butler County, Iowa where 4 more children were born.

We believe the table originated in Wisconsin and made the move to Iowa along with the rest of the family in 1892.  Possibly it was a wedding present or perhaps a gift from her husband.

The table only measures 26 inches tall.  Katherine was a tiny woman barely 5' tall, so it was probably just the right size for her use.  Was the table made especially for her?  We don't know at this time.

I'm also a seamstress like Katherine, but my new modern sewing/craft table measures 36 inches tall which is perfect for my 5'6" frame.  When I stand at Katherine's table, I feel her presence and realize how small she was and to think she gave birth and raised 11 children!  Her last child was born just 6 months before her first grandchild.

This picture of Kate was taken about 1906.  She would have been about 44 years old.  Her youngest child was about 4 years old and her oldest son was 28. 

Katherine died in 1943 and the table was given to her daughter, my grandmother, Matilda (Albrecht) Noss.  She was the first of Katherine's children to be born in Iowa in 1893.  Matilda also had 11 children so the old sewing table was put to good use.  Tillie, as she was known, was also an excellent seamstress and had worked  for a department store in Greene, Iowa before her marriage.  In those days, all dresses were not bought off the rack.  A woman could come to the store, choose her pattern and material. Then a seamstress employed by the store would make the dress to her specification.

Shortly after Katherine's death, Tillie, her husband and younger children moved to California.  The old sewing table was packed up and made the long trip over the mountains far away from it's Midwest origins.  When Tillie died in 1984, the table was given to her daughter, Julia, who is my mother.  Mom packed up the old table in California and drove it back over the mountains to Iowa. 

The table was now approximately 100 years old and starting to look it's age.  Mom didn't know what to do with the table as it definitely needed some loving care.  She gave the table to my sister, Eileen, who enjoyed restoring furniture. Eileen lived in Wisconsin, so the rickety, well-used table returned to it's original location after all those years.  Eileen took that old table and brought it back to it's original glory.  It was beautiful.

In the late 90's, Eileen decided to make a move to California to be closer to her grandchildren.  She would be living with her son's family and have no room for the grand little table.  She offered it to me as she knew it would be cared for with the love it deserved.

So this precious table now resides in Iowa with me.  I use it to hold embroidery and knitting supplies.  It sits near my stitching chair.  Somehow I think great-grandmother Katherine would like that.  As I slide open the old drawers and reach for another skein of yarn or a spool of thread, I think of all the women before me who used this table to hold their own handwork supplies.  Especially I'm reminded of my dear sister whose hands restored the old table with love. I lost my sister to a devastating stroke last year and this table is a forever link between the two of us.

Someday the table will be passed on to my daughter and it's journey will continue. I only hope she will treasure all the memories it holds within its drawers.  Now if I could only teach her how to sew on a button !!