There are many ways to learn of our ancestor’s good taste in fine things. The Good Genes Genealogy team — First Cousins Ann Wead Kimbrough and Mark Owen — are fortunate that our grandmother, “Mama” Helen Wilkes Owen Douthy, was a collector of fine items, including china settings.
Mama Helen always found discreet ways to ‘break the mold.’ She was mother of six children and the twice-divorced mother made sure that her children were raised in a close-knit community as she worked as an administrative specialist — a “Hidden Figure” — employed at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska. She found ways to travel the world as an ambassador from her church. It was on those travels that we also gained valued treasures that are great conversation pieces today.
The exquisite porcelain, blue flowered paisley and white patterns on her china, were indicators of the time period in which Mama Helen owned her set. The clues are good for genealogy sleuths who are interested in how our ancestors acquired and valued their fine things that provided for our great foundation.
Here are some tips on finding out when Mama Helen acquired this beautifully maintained china place setting.
- Turn over the back of the dishes to study the numbering and markings.
- Locate websites that have graphic images for you to compare your findings with the others. We were fortunate in that this was a relatively quick search. Here are our results.
- The upside of the china set also reveals its estimated manufacturing period. In our case, the beautiful, gold-trimmings confirmed the purchase time frame.
- It is also interesting to learn of the heritage of the china that my grandmother selected. “History of the Chodziez faience factory starts in 1852 or 1854 when Hermann Müller and Ludwik Schnorr bought a burnt building of the Grudzinski castle from count Koenigsmarck. The castle building is still in possession of the company.”
- As we reflect upon the meals that were eaten on this tableware, it is an opportunity to recall our fond family gatherings. At the time, I am sure that we did not know just how precious the dinnerware would mean to us. This is another way for your family genealogy to help bring back good times to our hearts and minds. Try it.
(First cousins Ann and Mark’s mothers are the daughters of Mama Helen).