The Old Black Trunk

In my mothers bedroom is an item so ordinary yet precious and is as familiar as anything I know or have known. I’ve seen it my entire life. It’s my great grandmothers black trunk. In her time, she was the keeper of our history, our stories, the relics of life, passed now into my mothers hands and one day, entrusted into my own.


Her trunk sat at the foot of her own bed thoughout my childhood and at 18, I rented her old room from my great aunt and there it sat still. Within it, is kept our family history, letters, diaries, books, pocket watches, documents, photographs great great grandfathers surgical tools, still wrapped in a canvas roll.


His legend lived in stories heard throughtout my childhood and although I never met him, I felt such familiar warmth and love. What a precious gift to give our loved ones, life that spans beyond their own….their presence, being and story to the generations to come.

In his time, he made house calls, traveling from house to house and town to town by horse and buggy. One of my mothers cousins still has the blanket he used for warmth on the buggy. Within the old chest, resides his ledger which logs his patients, treatment and payment for service, usually made with eggs, a chicken and various other goods.


A dapper fellow who always wore a black suit, liked to drink and loved the ladies. Married 5 times, I’d say they loved him too. Thing were much different back then and they too dealt with epidemics, lessor lifespans and lower mortality in child birth. He was widowed each time with many children.

He was a staunch Republican. In one altercation over politics, it was reported his stomach was cut with a knife and he sewed himself up until he could get medical attention.

A granddaughter wrote of him, “I remember him as a kind, lovable white curly haired
gentleman, dressed in a black suit and black hat. He walked straight and tall. He would always have long sticks of candy in his pockets for us naughty grandchildren. I saw the good part of him and I loved
him dearly.”

Too, the old chest contains one of his beloved books, a book of physicians poetry.


The trunk contains the pocket watch of his son, my great grandfather, the handwritten letters of my great and great great grandmothers and their diaries.


Great Grandfather, Samuel with his father Dr Isaac White.

Someday the old black trunk will rest at the foot of my own bed and I will add to it’s treasure for the newest of our generations. I’ll place within it all the treasures I hold as well: my great grandmothers oil lamp, my grandmothers diary, the little green pitcher that sat on her window sill, her engagement ring, the crocheted rose blanket, doily fine that my other great grandmother made for me at my birth, my mothers birth announcement, and my baby clothes.

I will tell their stories to my grandchildren as those before had done for me, speaking life into their names and tending the ancient roots of family.


    • It really does and it gives them life beyond their years to the generations to come as well as giving the younger generation a sense of family, history, roots, a knowledge of who they are in the ancestors who made them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have been researching my family tree since 2012 (Ancestry . com loves me) and every time I find a story about an ancestor it makes me feel incredibly close to them.
        I spent a great deal of time researching Larry’s ancestors who were killed in concentration camps on Yad Vashem. As I was searching through the sea of names I would just sit at the computer and cry…


      • Oh Lisa, I would’ve just wept and wept. I’ve lost track of how many years ancestry has had my pocket book but I’m sure I bought somebody a home by now. Lol We even did the DNA. I research Clay’s also. What a beautiful gift we leave for our children, grands and greats.💕

        Liked by 1 person

  1. My mom’s side of the family kept things, but my dad’s didn’t. It took years just to find out who my great great grandfather, on my dad’s side, because no one talked about family.

    Enjoyed this one alot


    • I encourage my mother to write down her life, stories and family memories, to leave behind. I’m the only one of her 5 children who knew her grandfather. It’s her memories that gave him to my young siblings. I encourage everyone to do the same.


  2. I have virtually no history … even my grandparents are faces without a story. When I hear of families like yours, I’m in awe of the rich roots you can draw back on. How very lucky you are!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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