We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. – T. S. Eliot
This past summer, I inherited custody of the Rightmeier family treasured trunk. Since then, I have been going through its contents, taking an inventory of its contents. Mind you, this is a basic inventory. The contents of this treasured trunk hold volumes of information that will take some time to probe.
Much of that information will be found in the memories of the family. However, each time I get some folks together we seem to get mired in the details much too soon. Albums of photos of ancestors, stir up questions of:
- “who is this?”
- “how are we related?”
- “How did they meet?”
- “what does this box of shells and maps mean?
and so forth, and we get lost in the branches of the family tree.
The Basic Contents
So, I decided to take a more research project methodology to start. Here is a sample of the items in the trunk:
- Photographs. From Tin types to painted portraits, negatives and albums of black and white photo-cards, there are some stunning examples of vintage photography.
- My great grandmother Leta Clark Rightmeier’s memory book
- Vintage made in Germany steel knitting needles. A pair of wooden knitting needles
- A hand-crocheted women’s handbag
- The original Marriage Certificate of my great grand-parents Leta and Lewis Rightmeieir.
- Leta and Lewis Rightmeieir’s 50th wedding celebration guest book.
- Leta and Lewis Rightmeieir’s memorial books from their home-going celebrations
- Several large sea shells and a box of smaller shells.
- A box of maps of road maps from the 1940s
- A photo of the Jewell County Grand Old Army 1900 reunion in Formosa, Kansas. My great great-grandfather B.F. Clark, Leta’s father, is pictured 4th from the left. Included is his two-stripe chevron from the Civil War.
- A number of very old books and bibles, including Leta and Lewis’ family bible presented as a gift by family and friends on their wedding day, Dec 25, 1902.
- Ledgers containing financial accounting of the farm.
This is only a sample of the treasured trunk’s contents. I have done a more details inventory in my home content database, but the above gives you an idea of the cool stuff this trunk contains.
More Than Things
Of course, it is not just the things, it is what they represent. I look at the photos, and see the face of my family looking back. I pick up an object and know that my ancestors also held it. The ledgers tell the story of their financial lives just as me check book does mine.
In some ways it erases the time that separates us. I am grateful for this archive. It gives me a sense of belonging, my place on this earth.
It is the family bible where my sense of place converges. The bible tells me I am loved from eternity and beyond and a part of God’s family. The pages in the center record my earthly family’s history on this earth. At least a portion of it.
T.S. Elliot explains it well, we explore in order to arrive where we started with a better understanding of that place. Well said sir!
What does your family treasured trunk look like? From where do you draw your sense of place? Please comment! Don’t forget to subscribe!
One thought on “What DNA Was Found In A Treasured Trunk?”
Hi Nancy! I hope to arrange a time with you when I could meet up with you and Dave, so that I may take cellphone pics of the items in the trunk, if that is acceptable to you. I saw the trunk once, when I was ten years old, and of course we didn’t go through it at the time. Now that I have done two years of intensive research on my (new) father’s side of the family, I’d be intensely grateful to have the chance to snapshot items in the trunk for my children and grandchildren of my mom’s (and your grandpa’s) dear heritage. I’d also love to take you and Dave out to dinner! Perhaps I’ll arrange to take the trip with Brent Rightmeier so he can also view the contents and take cellphone shots for his own kids etc. Let me know your thoughts on this? Thank you so much for your love of history and your continual awesome ways (I’m always showing my husband your flying pics! ) -Mary Jean (Leona’s daughter)