I have many things that come from my family history.
There is a framed photo of my great great grandparents – Gedeon and Alvina LaBelle LeBoeuf. The original frame was damaged in a fire but the picture was saved. I had it reframed and it hangs in the living room of our new house, next to it is the marriage certificate of David Etnier Parker and Alice Sarah Miller. I have a locket with the Army Air Corps insignia and pictures of my Grandma and Grandpa Beck as young adults. I have pictures of my Zimple ancestors, and some very old photos of every family branch.
Alice Sarah was born in 1854 in Hare’s Valley, Pennsylvania to George Washington Miller and Elizabeth Buckley. George was born in 1831 and Elizabeth was born in 1825. Both families came from central Pennsylvania and were farmers, working the land.
At some point before the Civil War, the Miller’s large barn was destroyed by fire.
I can only imagine the economic cost to this family: a mule team, 15 tons of hay, corn, oats and plows and equipment. What a horrific disaster this must have been to the family.
Part of this family has been passed on to me in the form of a bentwood hickory rocking chair. It sits in my living room, a reminder of the stalwart strength of my family. The curved back of the chair is worn and smooth. The arms of the chair show the use of many hours of someone sitting in it and there are, what I assume, some of the original nails in the wood.
My father gave it to me in 1997 and since then, it has been in some room in my house. So, for 20 years I have viewed this chair and remembered. According to my dad, the chair was built from hickory grown on the family farm in Pennsylvania. He stated it was built years after the Revolutionary War, but I have no proof. He made a few repairs to it.
What I do have is this picture of an elderly George Washington Miller sitting in the chair.
The only ancestors I can think of who would have been around to make this rocking chair are possibly Jacob Miller and Henry Buckley as they would have been alive in the late 1780s.
That this chair is still around and functioning as a chair says a lot to the workmanship of the men who built it. It’s strong and made with good materials, grown from the land the men farmed.
My heirloom isn’t just this chair – its the strength and resolve to overcome difficulties and challenges that also came down through the generations.