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TexasDude's avatar

Do you have any interesting family heirlooms?

Asked by TexasDude (25184 points ) December 12th, 2009

My grandfather recently discovered his own grandfather’s discharge papers as well as some martial sheet music. He was a trumpeter in the Italian army who was discharged in 1889. What sort of interesting historical heirlooms does your family have? Have you learned interesting about your own past from them?

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40 Answers

Slick's avatar

No, not that I know of. And if I do my grandparents has them, and never told me about them.

TexasDude's avatar

Thank you, @Slick. It’s pretty likely that there is some undiscovered treasure in an attic that hopefully you may find soon.

disturbed_broken's avatar

I learnt a mountain and a path is named after my great grandpa.
And Jessy james famous train robber guy is related to me great great great…...grandpa
idk how that works out..

But no items lol

TexasDude's avatar

@disturbed_broken, interesting heirlooms don’t necessarily have to be physical, in my mind. I would treasure the interesting tidbits about my great-grandfather, even if his music and papers were destroyed by moths and time. Thank you.

Slick's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard, I’m counting on it, it would be nice to find out a little about my families history.

gemiwing's avatar

My Grandmother’s brother’s Silver Star from WWII. It’s beautiful and awe-inspiring in it’s severity. I look at it about once a year to remind myself what was really lost to have our gains. I hope he knows we still think about him

Mavericksjustdoinganotherflyby's avatar

I have a couple of split bamboo fly rods that were my grandfathers. I had one re-eyed have against the advice from the fellow I had do it because he was worried about hurting the value of it. I just figured why have something as beautiful as it is just laying around and not being used.
It’s a fine rod and has very good action. I feel more connected with my grandfather when I’m out there using it, and I think that he would be glad to know it is still being used.

TexasDude's avatar

@gemiwing, that’s fantastic! I’m a huge military history buff, so something like that definitely gets my attention. As long as your grandmother’s brother’s memory of his service and life is still alive, I’m sure he knows he’s in your thoughts. Thank you.

TexasDude's avatar

That’s awesome, @Mavericksjustdoinganotherflyby. My grandfather is still alive, but I recently helped him clean his bamboo rods. It’s great that you breathed new life into them by using them. Happy fishing!

La_chica_gomela's avatar

One of my great uncles was one of the architects of the largest reform synagogue in the US.

TexasDude's avatar

Wow, @La_chica_gomela, that’s really impressive! Care to share which one?

faye's avatar

I have my father’s WW1 medals and my grandfather’s medal from the Fenian raids. I also have my father’s discaharge paper from WW1, a bunch of old straight razors with pearly handles, my dad’s pocket watch, dining room set from 1892, and Dad’s old Brownie camera from the 1950’s in the box!

Haleth's avatar

My maternal grandmother lived in India when she was a teenager, because her parents were missionaries and built a hospital there. She has a trunk full of beautiful saris from the time when she lived there. Later they took a boat from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean by way of the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. She bought a really great wall hanging in Yemen, and it’s still hanging in our living room.

My other grandmother has a lot of really interesting old photos of our family dating back to WW1 and when they first came to this country from Italy. She told me that they were so poor during the war that they’d often collect blood from the fighting and boil it into blood sausages, because there was nothing else to eat. Her father was an amazing artist, so many of his paintings are around the house.

TexasDude's avatar

Wow, @faye, that’s incredible! Do you know which medals your father received in WWI?
Also, I have a couple Brownie Hawkeyes still in the box, and a few out of the box that I use on a regular basis! :D

@Haleth, your family history reads like a good adventure novel. I’d love to see some of those photographs… I have read about the blood sausages before. I know someone whose German grandmother recounted doing the exact same thing in Berlin by the time the Soviets arrived. Thanks for sharing!

faye's avatar

They are a medal every Canadian soldier received for “being in a theatre of war” and a discharge medal.

TexasDude's avatar

That temple is beautiful, @La_chica_gomela. Thanks for the link.

Thank you @faye. I’m google imaging Canadian medals now.

YARNLADY's avatar

Nothing interesting, just sentimental. My Grandmother’s first piano award, my Dad’s first pilot’s license, some quilts and crocheted bedspreads from my grandmothers, an Abernathy library table from the original highschool in the small Colorado town my grandparents partly founded and which once carried the family name.

jenandcolin's avatar

My dad has a really old set of beer steins from Germany.
Also, when a woman in my family has a child she uses the material from her wedding dress to make the Christening gown (the ones that were married before having a baby). These stay in the family (as both a reminder of the wedding and the Christening).

TexasDude's avatar

Sometimes sentimentality is better than any curiosity or oddity, @YARNLADY. I bet I’d like that table, I love vintage school furniture. Thanks!

That’s awesome, @jenandcolin, I actually collect beer steins. Great story about the gown, by the way. Thanks for sharing!

Freedom_Issues's avatar

It’s not really an heirloom, but my grandma gave me this Latvian cuff bracelet that’s made of silver and is from pre-WWII.

TexasDude's avatar

Sounds beautiful, @Freedom_Issues, thanks for sharing :D

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I have tons of military items going back to the Mexican War. The military was our “family business” on both sides. Everything from my mother’s side was lost to the Russians in WW2. Probably the most unsual things are: a piece of a Japanese dive bomber my father shot down in 1942, a gunsight from the USS Baltimore (my great-grandfather was Gunnery Officer on her at the Battle of Manila Bay), My great-great-great grandfathers sword that he carried while serving under Robert E. Lee in the Mexican War (he later became Senator from NY and Hayes’ VP), an M1911 (not A1) pistol issued to my grandfather in 1913 and carried by him in WW1. He passed it on to my father when he graduated from Annapolis in ‘37 and was carried through WW2, Korea and Vietnam by my father. It was passed to me in 1978 when I recieved my Army commission and I carried it in the Gulf War. Much more old things, but those are the ones I consider most interesting.

TexasDude's avatar

Cut it out, @stranger_in_a_strange_land, you are making the military history buff in me green with envy. That’s a fantastic collection of history. Thanks for sharing.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard I didn’t list any of the medals, but an original Order of the Purple Heart awarded to a Revolutionary War ancestor is in my collection.

TexasDude's avatar

That’s simply amazing @stranger_in_a_strange_land. What a wonderful piece of history.

Kayak8's avatar

My great grandfather borrowed $300 from his brother to go to dental school (yep, that paid for all of it) and, as a result, we have the human skull he used in one of his classes (we have always called “him” Clancy). The top of the head was removed and you can still see the pencil lines tracing the various ridges and grooves inside the brain case. The teeth were in pretty poor shape, but you can learn all about the articulation of the jaw. This was my best thing to bring for “show and tell” as a kid. It also got a lot of use at Halloween, missing the top of the skull made for a great candy dish and satisfactorily freaked out most of the neighborhood kids . . .

TexasDude's avatar

That’s incredible, @Kayak8. I’m a collector of antiques that can sometimes be a bit odd, and I actually considered purchasing a vintage dental skull similar to yours, once! Thanks for sharing!

Kayak8's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard My family has always kept what might best be termed as a “cabinet of curiousities;” some of those strange things (usually naturally occurring) that were somehow unusual. No two-headed turtles or anything, but there have always been some strange conversation pieces available to instigate some fascinating conversations!

TexasDude's avatar

@Kayak8, I’m the same way, and believe me when I say that I have some weird stuff! Glad I’m not the only one around here who likes that sort of thing!

JessicaisinLove's avatar

I have already passed them on to my grandchildren except for one item.

WilAthart's avatar

when my grandfather fought in WW2 (he was stationed at okinawah japan) he went into a cave looking for japanese men hiding. he found a large tattered japanese flag and brought it home with him. my brother owns it now. there are little blood splatters on it, interesting but gross. =] he also has there huge paintings that a japanese man made for him. they had captured this man and he was their cook. on this large mesh/screen he painting huge flowers using like watered down mustard, things around the camp! he crushed flowers for paint etc. it was very interesting!

ubersiren's avatar

I have a pastel art piece that my grandmother did of a Chinese fisherman in a boat. It hung in her house until she died, then my mom took it. She gave it to me when I got my own house.

TexasDude's avatar

@WilAthart, your brother is sitting on a small fortune with that flag. Japanese battle flags are valuable and highly desired collectors items! Did you know that the Japanese also made wooden bayonets to attach their flags to so they could wave them on their rifles? Neat stuff. That painting sounds fantastic too!

@ubersiren, that sounds beautiful! I’m glad you were able to wind up with it. I have a few paintings from my relatives, so I can understand the value of a personal art piece.

WilAthart's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard I didnt realize that! being a family heirloom we may do nothing more but check out its worth, but thats an good thing to know! and i didn’t know that about the bayonets! thats really cool! and i appreciate the painting a little more than the flag, but both are intriguing! i guess thats the artist in me and the historian in you!

TexasDude's avatar


UScitizen's avatar

I have a daguerreotype of my great great grandfather taken in 1862 or 1863. In 1864 he was murdered by US troops during their illegal and immoral foray into the Confederate States. (Smile, it’s OK.)

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