Most of the family heirlooms I have access to either belonged to my Grandma Kirby or my dad. Since I had previously written blogs about them for the #52Ancestors challenge, I wanted to find something that belong to another ancestor for this weeks challenge: Heirloom.
On Monday I was visiting my eldest sister and asked her what she knew about the family heirlooms she had. I knew she had our grandmother’s piano and treadle sewing machine. She takes great care of them and has taught her children to do the same. I am glad that she has them. I didn’t know, however, that tucked away she had these beautiful, leather-bound, miniature books that belonged to our great-grandfather, Louis Albert Petersen.
I didn’t recognize all the titles and authors, but I recognized a few:
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
- The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde
- Midsummer Nights Dream by William Shakespeare
- Speeches and Letters by George Washington
Unfortunately these miniature books do not have a copyrite date on the back side of the title page. I really hate not knowing what year they were printed and how old they are, but from my experience with antique books I would guess they were printed around the turn of the 20th century. Inside the books are Louis A. Peterson’s stamped signature. It was fairly unique to have a signature stamp in the early 1900s (he died in 1933). It was likely hand carved into wood and used by Louis in his profession as and education administrator.
For an overview of his life, see the obituary to the right. I find it interesting to see the detail given concerning to circumstances of his death. I had never heard of the sleeping sickness before. Apparently it was a fairly common complication in connection to influenza in the early 20th century. I am sad for his wife and children that his life was cut short.
I don’t remember my Grandma Kirby talking a lot about her dad. He died when she was 18 years old. I do remember her talking about his death, however. She remembered that when he died his body was laid on the table in the front room and their home was opened up for visitors to come view the body. She found it unsettling when it was night and his body was still there.
It is quite fitting that my oldest sister has his books as she is herself and educator. His legacy of educating is being carried on through her.