Tag Archives: stories

Tales of the silver napkin rings

As with silver spoons handed down in my family, napkin rings also have stories to tell.  Some are quite straight forward:

Lemuel from Mother


Lemuel was Lena’s second born son – my father

 Lemuel Joseph Downs



Others have a back-story:

Mama from Evelyn    09



‘Mama’ refers to Lena, my grandmother, married to my grandfather George Wallingford Downs in in 1909.  Lena was 19; George at 35, a widower with an 8 year old daughter, Evelyn.  The hope for relationship expressed in the engraving was not to be.  Evelyn was soon sent to boarding school; Lena and George went on to have 3 sons.  The oldest, George Jr., had no children, my father only one daughter, and his younger brother, Bernard died in infancy.
Evelyn married and had four children.  Lena, to the end of her days, only claimed two sons and one granddaughter.  She was never ‘Mama’ to Evelyn.

Evelyn Elizabeth Downs

with her grandmother

Susan Eliza Houston Downs



Susan Eliza Houston Downs


my great grandmother, my father’s grandmother, his father’s mother – Lena’s mother-in-law

This napkin ring does not so much tell its own story, as gives confirmation of the one just told.  Indeed, I was named for the Susan of the napkin ring, so it seems to logically follow that it would come to me…..eventually.  Nineteen years would pass between Susan’s death and my birth.  I would think that it might have been passed first during that time to Evelyn from her grandmother.  Instead, it came to me directly from Lena……


Do you have family treasures with stories to tell???  Perhaps you have not yet listened……………




Filed under Family history

Family history etched in silver

Silver spoons are on my mind.  I’ve just taken down the kitchen Christmas tree (the longest a tree has ever remained!!!).


Looking at all these spoons and thinking about the family stories they have to tell….


……I can’t believe it is my turn already!!!  I am now the grandmother with the young granddaughter who will someday use the silver previously passed down to me.  How well I remember my grandmother, Lena, explaining the provenance of teaspoon, demitasse or souvenir spoon; names, initials, dates and places engraved on some, and the story behind others.  Her words are etched in my memory as surely as the engravings on the silver.

S.E.D.  –  Susan Eliza Downs,



my great grandmother after whom I am named.



Lena may have received this spoon to commemorate her eighteen birthday in 1908.


The following year she was married to George Wallingford Downs.


Quoting Lena from a note she left with this hammered sterling sugar spoon:


My sugar spoon given to me as a wedding present – by Edith Goodwin.  1909  LMD



Lena took her maiden name, Miller, as a middle name when she married.  Her mother,

Mary Elizabeth Judd Miller


passed this set of teaspoons on to her only daughter, Lena.


My father’s baby teeth marks in the bowl of one of the spoons.



Mary Elizabeth Judd Miller also passed her mother’s serving spoon (one of six) on to Lena,

M.A.J. – Mary Ann Judd



the other five given, one each, to Lena’s five brothers:

Benjamin, Thomas, Bernard, Wallace, and Frederick


Lena Miller Downs


and this is just the beginning…..


Filed under Family history, Holidays

Tell me a story……

Surfaces, layered with paint, worn by time and loving use are so appealing to me.  As I have aged I have come to appreciate the signs of wear on cherished belongings… and beloved faces – they all have a story to tell.

what mother’s hand polished the back of this high chair by pushing her little ones up to the table…


how many dishes scraped across this French metal table top as summer meals were cleared


when was this molding removed from its original home and fashioned into a picture frame


why was this oval frame meticulously stripped, leaving just a beauty mark of old paint


who were the small girls who slept in these beds, perhaps scarring the paint during pillow fights


which young girl sat with her brush and mirror at this small vanity, dreaming….


where was the bouquet placed that had been so carefully arranged


and where now the baby, who once was pushed in the stroller


who turned this door knob in hopes of finding a child home for a visit on the other side…paint chipped perhaps by wedding bands long worn



so many questions, so many stories to tell……….

do you have a favorite story to tell, a number one


perhaps a number two??????


or more………………???


Filed under Family history, Inspiration