Certain items in my possession
were passed down to me with a higher-than usual degree of decorum. This cut glass jar with sterling lid is one of them. My mother told me, when she presented it to me with a flourish, that it is the only surviving item from my great-grandmother, Georgianna (Hagerman) Jones (1868–1932). This makes a girl sit up and take notice. Your mother's mother's mother and one item remains? You bet I was listening!
My mother kept marbles in it, crystals, just like I do. She kept it in a secretary desk that my father brought home "from Sam's" one day. Sam's was an antique/second hand shop used that he used to frequent, owned by a man named Sam Castano. Sam and Pops became best buddies, despite the fact that each was taught in early childhood to despise the ethnic group of the other. When my father grew up in East Boston, gangs of Italian kids used to fight gangs of Irish kids. That's the way it was and still is: new immigrants fighting slightly older immigrant groups for a piece of the pie. According to angelic Pops, he never partook in these activities, and actually, I sort of believe that he didn't, for his bark was far worse than his bite. Yet, it scarred him and left him wary of Italians in general. I'm sure Sam felt the same way about the Irish. So when Pops and Sam first had dealings with each other it must have been against each's better judgment! Yet, Pops continued to frequent Sam's, and they became very close friends. I learned as a small child that whenever Daddy brought a treasure home, it must have come from Sam's. I still remember the day that the secretary arrived, mostly because my mother was pleased with it. Generally she could think of better ways to invest the family income than in antiques! But on that day she was ecstatic and immediately began loading her favorite keepsakes onto the shelves.
Like much of the content of my mother's house, the secretary passed down to my brother Tim and family. With three small children, the secretary's function changed from curio display to videotape library, and after a few years the scratched and battered secretary was banished to his barn. I asked him one fine day if I might adopt its warped and mildewed self, and Tim obliged, so we carried it back to Shrewsbury. It stunk badly of mold, and aggravated some hearty allergic reactions. We had it refinished and finally I was overjoyed to place Georgianna's glass jar upon the shelf once more.
Georgianna and her husband Jared Smith Jones (1860–1943) were born in New Brunswick, Canada. They were both descended from Loyalists who had fled the brand new United States at the conclusion of the American Revolution. A century later they were part of the mass immigration into the US in the late nineteenth century, in search of jobs and a better life. They went to Lawrence, Massachusetts and Jared worked variously in the textile mills and driving a team of horses. I know that they had very little money. I wonder if, and want to believe that the glass jar belonged first to Georgia's mother, Louisa (Carr) Hagerman.
My grandmother Vernetta was Georgianna's only daughter. Vernetta had four daughters. The matrilineal line died out in my Aunt Louise's line and in my mother's line, since my sister and I do not have daughters bearing daughters. I have inherited the glass jar purely by chance. But I want this jar to remain a matrilineal, mitochondrial DNA kind of hand-me down. So, when I die, it will go to one of the female descendants of either my Aunt Anne or Aunt Abbie (twins) both of whom have daughters with daughters with daughters! Though she may not know it, some little girl had an ancestor who cherished a piece of cut glass and kept it safe to pass down, just for her. What good is studying family history if you don't bring it to life for younger generations? Maybe, in some small way, this jar will do just that.