Grandma Esther’s History Lesson

safety pin  It started with the safety pin on the pocket of the apron that Jackie sent me to use in a quilt.  Then I found the note about R.A. Peterson who made the apron and Anna who “cut it short”.

The apron had always been in Jackie’s mother’s linen closet and she thought it was a shower or wedding gift.  It wasn’t until she saw the note that I found that Jackie understood the history of the apron.

Jackie's Great Grandmother Christine aka R.A. Peterson
Jackie’s Great Grandmother Christine aka R.A. Peterson

Jackie’s Grandmother came to Minnesota from Sweden with her family when she was 9 years old.   Her father wrote about the twelve  day boat trip in his diary and about the good soil and big trees they saw on their way by train from Chicago to Minnesota.  They spent their first winter  with a couple of other families (eleven  people total) in a one room log cabin.

The Log Cabin Christine and her family lived in the first winter in Minnesota

It was Christine later known as R.A. Peterson who made the apron.  Long enough to be cut down and still be long enough to cover someones knees.  Jackie’s great grandmother  must have made it in the early 1900’s, to wear over a floor length skirt.  The embroidery on the apron is the type popular with Swedish immigrants.

Grandpa Chester and Grandma Esther
Jackie’s Grandpa Chester and Grandma Esther

It was Jackie’s Grandmother Esther, (R.A. Peterson’s daughter) a school teacher, who pinned the note onto the apron.  Always ready with a rubber band or pin to cob something together, Esther was also always a ready to give a history lesson which is just what she did by leaving the note in the pocket of the apron.   Anna, who “cut the apron short” was Esther’s sister.

A recent family reunion at the one room cabin
A recent family reunion at the one room cabin

Recently, Jackie attended  a family reunion at the one room cabin which was preserved and moved to it’s present location in 1959.

I don’t know if Jackie would have eventually found the note in the pocket of the apron she always believed was a wedding gift to her mother.   But I’m glad I noticed it on the floor of my studio and decided to open it up instead of just tossing it in the trash or vacuuming it up.

You can read more about Jackie’s Grandma Esther on Jackie’s blog Quilt of Missing Memories.


8 thoughts on “Grandma Esther’s History Lesson

  1. Maria, This is a lovely story…..the pictures are wonderful. My Grandmothers name was Esther and she had a sister Anna…..both very fond memories for me. Also the clothes pin and such practical things were very much my Grandmother Esther. Some hankie rolled up under her slieve. Or tucked gently and secretly in her bra. I’m so please you found the trail to the story……thank you for sharing. Very special. xo

  2. Just a little safety pin and a note; amazing, as if a mystery was solved. I have my mother’s antique desk. I don’t know where she found it, but she was always in antique shops and when she fell in love with something she bought it. She also never threw anything out, and when she passed away, my brother and I had to go through things, sorting out what we should toss and what we should keep. We even found bills from 1938; why she kept them, I’ll never know. Anyway, I was looking through her desk the other day and I came upon an itinerary from a trip my grandmother took in 1950 something. My mom, aunt and uncle sent grandma on a trip to Europe–the first and only trip I ever recall her taking. They sent her and a friend on the Queen Mary and the trip was two months long! When I looked at the itinerary, the cost of that trip to Europe in those days was like eleven hundred dollars or so. Grandma became a widow when she was only in her fifties. She never had a gentleman friend after that and went to work running grandpa’s business until she retired in her late nineties. The business manufactured boxes for produce and was successful until refrigerated box cars came into being. If you can imagine a four foot ten little lady running a business like that down by the train station, that was my grandma. After grandpa died she focused her life entirely on her family and the business, and she lived to the ripe old age of 101.
    As far as keeping things, my mother kept all of my father’s letters from WWII; she even saved the ones he wrote to me and put them in an album–well worn, of course–so that I could have them forever. I organized hers by year, 1942-1945, and saved them in large tin cans so that I could keep them forever. When I retired, I intended to use them to write a book, but I still have yet to get down to it.
    My father was gone during what I consider to be some of a child’s most formative years and sometimes that leaves a child with feelings of loss, uncertainty, and fear. Those letters prove that we were connected even then. Like my mother who never threw anything away, I will never throw them out!
    The safety pin and the note, are keys that unlock memories of bygone days and help to solve the mystery of the past for those who come after. I’m glad you found them and unlocked the door of the Peterson’s past. And now there is even a log cabin to keep the memories alive. How wonderful is that!!!!!

    1. How nice it must be for you to have so much of your personal family history at your fingertips Jane. Your Grandma sounds truly impressive. Thanks

  3. WOW!! What a beautiful story and how touching their patience and willingness to sacrifice to obtain their dreams! ELEVEN PEOPLE ALL WINTER IN A ONE ROOM CABIN?!? I’m so glad they kept the log cabin as a place for family reunions. Annie

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