8/1/11

Treasure Trove

As I blogged earlier in the year, my Aunt Joan died back in January.  She was my mother's brother's wife, and she was the last of the Maust family in my mother's generation.  Since my brother is deceased as well, my two boys, my brother's two boys, and I are the last living descendants of the Maust family.  My uncle and aunt didn't have children of their own, but they had a foster son who came to live with them when he was 14.  He was every bit as much of a son to them as if he had been born of their blood.  Yesterday, I met up with his wife, and she gave me two boxes and a suitcase full of pictures, handmade items, and documents left from the Maust family.  This morning, I had fun going through all of that.  What follows are some of the truly special things I found.

This is my grandparents' wedding picture.  Meet Earl J. Maust and Bertha Wise Maust.


I'm not exactly sure when they were married, but they had four children.  The oldest, Clair, died in infancy.  I don't know why, but of course, it was common for children to die young in the early 1900's.  The next oldest, Willard, my uncle, contracted polio and was disabled most of his life.  He died young, and I never met him.  (Incidentally, my brother also contracted polio.  He was one of the last children to contract polio before the Salk Vaccine was invented.)  My mother, Clarice, was next in line, and my uncle Leland was the youngest.

My grandmother had a heart attack when I was a little girl.  She wasn't expected to survive, but she lived another 25 years or so.  In those days, heart patients were advised to rest and keep quiet, and so my grandmother was only on her feet four hours out of every 24 hours.  She was a pious woman, and believed literally that idle hands were the devil's workshop.  I don't remember ever seeing her lying down that she didn't have some kind of needlework in her hands.  She made beautiful quilts.  You can see some of her quilts pictured in my bio.  I was delighted to find more of her quilts in with the rest of the items I unpacked today.  A couple of these are well-loved, and in pretty bad shape.  One day I'll get energetic and try to restore them.  For now, they are going to be packed away in a safe place.


This one is coming apart in many places, as you can see toward the bottom of the image.  She used muslin to back most of her quilts.  All of them were hand pieced and hand quilted.






She made this same pattern for me.  It's called "diamond and star."  Mine has pink where this one has blue.



She made several crazy quilts.  This one is made in satin fabrics.  I have another one made in flannel, which is delightfully warm and cozy.



She also made these little doll quilts.



My grandmother did all kinds of needlework:  needlepoint, embroidery, crochet, tatting, although I don't believe I ever saw her knit anything.  She embroidered this tablecloth with the "M" monogram.  I'm interested in this cloth.  If someone knows something about this, please comment and share your knowledge with me. 




There are some blue lines that appear to be woven into the fabric.  My grandmother was frugal to the point of being a borderline hoarder.  I wondered if this cloth was from some sort of feed sack or something.  Does anyone recognize this?


There was quite a bit of needlepoint yarn included.  These labels look very old to me.  I'm amazed that there are no bugs in with the yarn.  I looked on the labels for a year they might have been manufactured, but I couldn't find anything.




I did a cursory search to see if I could learn more about this yarn.  Maybe one of you knows something.  Please tell me, if you do.  There were a few pieces of her needlepoint included.  I'm assuming these were intended to be seat cushions for a chair and love seat.



The lower one had her tapestry needle, still threaded and still connected to the design where she left off when she worked on this for the last time.  I don't know when that was, but she died in 1973.



There were quite a few documents, including this sale flyer.  E. J. Maust was my grandfather, and this is when he sold all of his livestock and much of his farm equipment before their move from Nebraska to Idaho.  It's from 1937.



There were a number of well-worn Bibles and children's books.  This one belonged to my Uncle Leland.


Here is the inscription inside, which is curious.  It says "Teach your children to pray.  E.J. and Bertha Maust, December 22, 1923."  My mother was born in 1922.  I don't know if this was sort of a "note to self" to teach her children to pray, or if it came from someone else, instructing her to teach her children to pray.



There was also this book, "Mischief," which was a gift to my grandfather from my great grandfather.


And look at this inscription.  The pencil was very light and difficult to photograph.


It has my grandfather's name, Earl Maust, and some numbers that are hard to make out.  Then it notes it was a gift from my great grandfather, J. Miller, followed by the date, December 15, 1894.  Isn't that incredible?  I love very old things.  It doesn't matter what they are.

There were a number of little baby items that my grandmother made.  Crocheted and cutwork booties:




And these little baby dresses that I'm sure she made by hand.




A little crocheted baby cap. 


(George was thrilled to model this for me.  He refused to look at the camera.  He's worried one of the neighbor cats will see him, and that would be a disaster for his macho image.)

Finally, this mother-of-pearl-handled silverware.  Oh my gosh!  What a family feud this started!  I won't go in to all of that except to say that my mother and my uncle didn't speak for ten years.  My mother went to her grave worried that this silverware would end up leaving the family when Leland and Joan were gone.  Hopefully, she'll be able to rest in peace now that the silverware is safely in my Maust-descendant hands. 



I hope you've enjoyed this little tour of my family history.  Now . . . finding a place for all this precious cargo is my next task.

12 comments from clever and witty friends:

Stray Stitches said...

Thank you for sharing! What a wonderful collection of memories you have :)

Winona said...

Wow! You are so right. What a Treasure Trove! Thank you for sharing with us.

Aliene said...

I did so much enjoy this tour of all your little treasures. What fun you must have had going through all of it. Thanks for sharing it.

Darlene's Quilts and Stuff said...

You are so lucky you have received these wonderful mementos to keep for years to come. The childrens things are darling. Your grandmother was very talented.

Jo said...

How wonderful that you have these pices of your family's past. The fact that they have survived is amazing. So many things in the world have been thrown away by folks who ment well but had no idea what they were doing. I am so glad for you.

Kate said...

Wonderful family treasures! Thanks for sharing.

Anita said...

Wow, what lovely treasures...that crazy quilt is amazing!

LethargicLass said...

What a delightful post to share with us... I love history and glimpses in to the past... thank you!

quiltzyx said...

That is an amazing Treasure Trove you received!

Tell George, that his macho-ness is still intact, as only a truly macho-cat could have modeled that cap as successfully as he did. :D

cindyquiltsOR said...

The white cap George is wearing is tatted, not crochet. Tatting was often used to make lace and is more complex than crochet.

What wonderful family treasures tho!

Sew Create It - Jane said...

What a wonderful collection of treasure. I took particular interest in the needlepoint wool as I too inherited a half-finished project which has been in the family for a couple of generations. It was started by my great-grandfather's sister and I believe it was a teaching project with my grandmother..so started in about 1937ish...or even before. The wool provided also says 100% virgin wool and moth repellent.
I have yet to finish the project...I guess I should before it gets passed down to my daughter :o) Once finished it would make a nice footstool cover...a piece of furniture that might be less fashionable now!

Thanks for sharing all the lovely pictures.

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

What a beautiful wedding dress. And, George makes a great model. Great needleworks all thru.