Monday, June 21, 2010

Beyond All Expectations

We had a wonderful visit with my second cousin, Anna Laura and her daughter Anne over the weekend. Anna Laura is going to be 90 years old this year and she is just a wonderful person. (Once when Jason was taking pictures, he was looking away and she put her thumbs in the ears and stuck out her tongue.) Also got a bit of that serendipitous information that I love: Anna Laura, the first grandchild of Anna Jane and Adolphus Nimitz and dear Auntie D, the last grandchild, share the same birthday. How cool is that?

We had a great talk and I got to look at a ton of old pictures. I was so happy when the first thing I saw when we walked in the house was the Nimitz christening gown framed and hanging over the fireplace. Absolutely gorgeous. I think one of Anne's daughters was the last to use it, then they made the decision to retire it as it was getting very frail. Five generations were christened in the gown.

Anna Laura had two photographs that sent me over the moon with joy. One isn't really a photo, but rather a painting on wood (I had Jason take a photograph of it) of my great-grandmother Anna Jane Sanders Nimitz as a young girl. She was born in 1865 and looks to be about 15 or 20 in the painting, so it was done in 1880 or 1885.

Anna Laura told me a story that when her mother found the painting, it was filthy. She took it to a professional restorer who took one look at it and said he wouldn't touch it because it was so old and painted on wood. So Anna (Anna Laura's mother and yes, all the Annas confuse everyone) just brought it home and took a brush to it. Luckily, it was fine.
Another great find was this photograph (again, this is a photograph of the photograph by Jason) of Anna Jane Sanders Nimitz and Adolphus Boethius Nimitz, my great-grandparents. I had never seen a photograph of my great-grandfather. He died, young, when my grandfather was about six years old, and was a second cousin to Admiral Chester Nimitz (the fact of which makes my Navy man-child happy).

Then just as we were preparing to leave, Anna Laura says, "I think there are more pictures in this drawer." She sat down and began handing things to me. One of which was this picture of my Great-Aunt Idella, who I never even knew about until I started this second round of genealogy research.

Idella seems to have been a type one diabetic and since they had no real treatment for it back then, died relatively young at 27 years old. (But the nurse in me says that's a pretty long life span for a type one diabetic without the benefit of insulin and the knowledge that we have now.)

The best is yet to come, as Jason has not processed the photographs yet. While digging through the above mentioned drawer, Anna Laura handed me a tiny snippet of paper and said, "This is Grandmother Nimitz's handwriting." While I was reading the note, my heart about stopped at what it was describing, then looked down into the box that Anna Laura was pulling tissue paper away from to reveal the christening cap that Anna Jane's grand-father John Christian Frederick Eikerenkoetter (born 1800) wore when he was christened. And a bit of lace that was part of a stocking that belonged to his mother, Anna Maria Sophia Verson Eikerenkoetter.

Pictures as soon as available.

No vacation kitty, but there was a vacation puppy, Ginger:

Not being familiar with dogs (like them, just never had one), I didn't quite realize that grabbing the head of an 80 pound boxer and saying "who's the puppy, are you the puppy" would cause this overgrown lap down to go bonkers with joy. I have a couple of very lovely puppy claw scratches on my arm as a parting gift.


Anonymous said...

We have a tradition that started when my aunt made a dress for me when I was one year old (my one year photo was taken in it).....then my daughter' one
Year photo and her daughters......the dress is 61 years old and is being saved until one of my grandchildren is blessed
With chidren of their own.......for now we have the
Three photos of the babies in the dress hanging in our living rooms.

JanetLee said...

That is awesome. My mom has something like that. Each of her granddaughters had a photograph taken in her christening gown. They skipped me because I was born in Germany and the dress was in South Carolina.

Sharon said...

What a good-looking family you have there, Janet Lee! And I was going to ask some time ago if there was an admiral in your family and now I know.

That is one cute doggie! Not as cute as Loki and Thor, of course.

JanetLee said...

Sharon - thanks! My aunt sent me more from the other side of the family that are pretty spectacular also.

Hoping to get down to the old family home near Beaufort soon and interview a cousin there and get an introduction to the current owner of the plantation house near Walterboro so I can get there and take photos.

There is a story that during the Civil War, Sherman's troops came through and stayed and wrote on the wall "Mr. Sanders come home, we liked your house and did not burn it". Anna Laura confirmed this, but she cannot remember which house it was. I would love to see that.

K. Smith said...

I am so grateful to have found these old photos! Adolph Nimitz & Anna Jane Sanders are my great grandparents too. If you have more photos, I would dearly love to see them. --K. Smith

JanetLee said...

K - Howdy "cousin"! I do have more. I will put up post. I have an awesome one of Anna Jane Sanders mother that I got from our Sanders kin just this summer.

JanetLee said...

K - now that I've spent 15 minutes trying to upload one picture, how about you email me and I'll send them in email to you.