This is but a fraction of the antiques that I live with. . . but you get the idea. I don't remember that I ever purchased an item knowing the name of the previous owner except for a book here and there. Then one day at the Allegan Antique Fair, I spotted it. "It" is a grain painted immigrant chest. Most amazingly, it has the name of the immigrant and his destination carved into the front. That day, I told myself I would only look for small (translation:
The time period for grain painting was the first half of the 19th century so I am guessing that it is circa 1840.
Johann Wilhelm Scheid
Translation: Immigrant to New York
The pine chest is impressive, and the top was made from a single board 21" wide with hand forged hinges and side handles.
This piece of someone's family history sits in my family room with a quilted runner protecting the top which has split from age and dryness. It is too big for the room, but I don't care. I love it. I have posted on the message boards of Ancestry to see if there is a descendant who would like to see it. So far, no one has contacted me. I've found a Johann Scheid but not a Wilhelm, although I haven't searched with much intensity.
So, for the time being, I'm taking care of Johann's chest. I hope he was prosperous in this new land. Is this a chest of a poor, a middle class, or a man of means? My uneducated guess is middle class, but that is just a feeling and nothing more. Did he have a skill or trade? Did he marry and have a family? Now I browse antique stores infrequently, but when I do, I pause at the framed marriage certificates, the boxes of unidentified photos, and the signature quilts sad that they have lost their families.
Do you care for the family history of another? If so, take your responsibility seriously.