Wednesday, September 24

A Family Treasure

On Tuesday morning I stopped in to see Mom. Today is her birthday and she will be 81 years old. She is going with her friend to the US for a day of shopping, so I won't see her. I wanted to spend a little time with her and we had some business to do and she wanted my help.

Just before I left Mom's, she was showing me the quilts that she had made for the babies of the family for Christmas and the presents she had bought for her granddaughters. We stepped into her bedroom and I saw something that I hadn't seen in years. I exclaimed how I loved it and she told me to take it home.

Apparently this photo of my great-great grandparents, Jim and Elizabeth, has been in the basement since Mom moved for the farm. Mom found it the other day and decided it needed some TLC. She brought it upstairs, dusted it off and wondered what in the world she'd ever do with it. To me it is a real family treasure. The frame is damaged but I told her that I would touch it up with a bit of paint or dye and hang it over my antique wash stand in the computer room.

When I brought the photograph into the house, hubby asked if that was my grandfather, who passed away at the age of 93 in 1998 - on hubby's birthday no less. I told him no, it was my grandfather's grandparents. He commented on how Grandpa Jim looked so much like my grandfather.

I have heard stories of Great-Great Grandpa Jim all of my life. He was a veterinarian, but doctored as many people as he did animals. He delivered many babies in his life and faced such things as smallpox, scarlet fever, polio, cholera and the black plague, which hit this area in the early 1920s. What a time for him to be a doctor. I'm sure there were times when he was bone-tired from keeping watch over humans as well as animals. He drove his horse and buggy to the homes of his patients through rain, hail, wind, sleet and snow. Well, he drove the horse and sleigh in the winter. What doctor would do that today?

I never knew Dr. Jim. He died before I was born, as did his wife, Elizabeth. The couple had seven children. They were Nettie, Nell, Jennie, Dave, James, Hugh and William. Of all of those children, I only ever knew one and that was Uncle Hugh. He was very old when I was young and died about the time I was 4 years old. I can't remember much about him, but do remember that he stayed at my grandparents for a time.

I am very interested in family history and this old photo has piqued my interest in genealogy even more. What about Grandma Elizabeth? What kind of a life did she live, taking care of the house without any modern conveniences and raising seven children? How did she feel about Dr. Jim being called out to care for sick humans and animals all times of the day and night? What about all of the times that Dr. Jim was away for a few days performing his duties as a physician and veterinarian? How did she cope? If only this antique photograph could talk. What a story it would tell.

Unfortunately, the antique frame, which is the original, is damaged. Here is where I'd like your opinion. I want to touch the frame up with paint or dye, as previously stated. Hubby wants me to leave it as is. He says that it will lose its originality if I do that and he thinks that would devalue it. Of course I never plan to sell it, so I can't see where it would make a difference. Please leave your opinion in the comment area. Should I touch up the frame or leave it in its orignal frame with the damage?

Have a pleasant day and enjoy the sights, sounds and fragrances of the season. ~Blessings, Mary~


  1. I think that you need to talk to a professional restorer and ask that question of them.I would try to save the frame as it is original.

  2. I agree with mike . I think someone who knows about these things could help you. My Mother has a frame similar to yours with my dad when he was a little boy and his dad...Blessings to you my friend..m..

  3. What a lovely treasure. I hope you can learn more about these people. I am a genealogist and know how thrilling it is to be able to put stories with the names.
    I must say I agree with your husband. I'm not thinking of the value but I believe that scratches, chips and dings on these wonderful heirlooms are like autograph's of our ancestors. I wouldn't change it but if you are determined I would definitely seek professional advise.

  4. Absolutely, I would not change one thing about the frame. It being like it ended up fits perfectly with the people it surrounds. They earned every mark and scratch of it.

  5. I've repaired damaged frames like this before, there is such a thing as 'wood putty' at Home Depot. If it's a deep wound, I'd get some wood putty patch it up....lightly hand sand the NEW putty after dried...keeping away from the good finished wood on the frame as much as you can ---and get the 'gloss stain' to match the wood frame. If you do it right, it'll look JUST LIKE the frame.

    It's beautiful Mary. I love how you shared some of the family history to go along with you new treasure. Wow...what stories, huh?

    One of our ancestors was an Indian that is one I would have loved to talk with.

    Fabulous, fabulous blog today!!!!

  6. PS----I agree with you that is...fix it! Do the repair work.

    LOL, obviously.

  7. Oh my, I have had a lot of catching up to do so have enjoyed reading your last 3 or 4 posts!! You have been busy doing lots of fun things. What a treasure getting that picture of your great-great grandparents! Hey, it's your picture, if you would enjoy repairing it I would go for it! Like you say, you aren't going to sell it so do your thing!
    I loved that old Thunderbird that you saw at the fair and all of the booths with goodies to buy. How did the goats milk soap work? I've heard that it is really mild and good for the skin. Your pictures and stories about the women that fought for the right to vote was fascinating! They were brave, brave women to do that and we should all be thankful for their courage!!

  8. Oh is a family treasure and I'd keep it just as it is.
    love and hugs, Deena

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  10. Mary,

    I deleted my first comment because I messed up on it. Sorry!

    First of all, a Happy Birthday to your dear Mom! God bless her!

    I love the old picture and the story behind it. What a treasure! I would keep it as it is, or have it professionally restored, but would not touch it up myself. Just my 2 cents.

    Have a wonderful day!

    Love and Hugs,


  11. I would leave the frame as is. It has history and character. I enjoyed reading about your family and love the photo.

  12. Good morning dear Mary:-)

    Happy 81st Birthday to your dear Mom!! It's a shame you won't be able to spend time with her today but I'm sure she'll have fun shopping in the States:-)

    Such a beautiful family treasure that picture is! I so enjoyed reading about Dr. Jim and as you say, if only pictures could talk!! As for the frame, personally I would leave it as it is.

    Hope your day goes well my friend. xoxo

  13. Mary
    PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH UP THE FRAME, LEAVE IT AS IS. A professional restorer cost lots if it is done correctly. I got estimates on some and declined fixing them. I love the fact that your Mother gave you such a wonderful treasure. But of course I share your interests in history.
    Your Mother was born on the day I lost mine in 98.
    Peace be with you.

  14. I have the same thoughts about the lives of ancestors. That is one reason that I started keeping a journal. What a blessing to be able to read the journal of a grand or great-grandmother. I got into Geneology because I wanted to find out something about an American Indian great-great grandmother. I didn't discover much about her but did learn so much history about my family as well as Honey Bear's. It is fascinating.
    I would leave the frame alone. I think it gives the item character and since it is as old as the photograph, it needs to look old.
    Mama Bear

  15. What a beautiful frame! A real treasure with your relative's photo! I think I would try to work on it a little, mainly to keep it from crumbling anymore. It may need some oil in the damaged spots to keep it from flaking off more. Have you ever tried Old English furniture oil? I wish you were here, we have four different wood colored paint pens a furniture store owner gave us for touch-ups. They work really well.

    Is the glass curved? I love those old frames!

    Looks like you have been having fun at the festivals and car show, etc!


    P.S. - Happy Birthday to your Mother! We have three family birthdays this week (grandson, Tanner's the 23rd, hubby's is the 26th, and daughter Alyson's is the 29th!) Also, Joe's daughter Barbara, was the 15th!

  16. Hi Mary, Happy Birthday to your Mom! I hope she has a great day!

    What a lovely treasure she has given you.
    I have no idea what you should do but everyone has given you some good ideas.

    I did a book for my grand daughter when she graduated from high school but did not finish it up until she got out of college.
    She just loved it!
    I wrote all kind of things about our family history and about myself in this book.

    I am so bad at spelling and grammar I worried about it and MY entire family said " Mom" Wouldn't you love to have a book your Grandma had written for you even if is wasn't perfect!!!

    My grandma's were born in the early 1870's and when I thought about it, I thought, This would be priceless to me! I wouldn't care one drop if everything was not spelled correctly! I would devour it!
    Loving every thing my Grandma's wrote! What a gift that would have been. So I quit worrying about writing in Sarah book and just did it and she loves it!!

    Love and Blessings, Carolyn

  17. Mary, this is so wonderful...I also share you love for ancestry- it just fascinates me!
    How wonderful that your mom found this and gave it to you!
    Your g-g-grandfather sounds like an amazing man!

    And I forgot that our moms are the exact same age!


  18. P.S....And Happy birthday to her!!!

  19. Oh how I love those pieces of family history! I too would love to be able to sit and talk with those gone on. The cool thing is that one day I will be able to speak to most of them.
    Mom has some really old pictures of family...they are a treasure. It always makes me a little sad when I go into antique stores and see these old pictures that people are selling. Don't they have any family left that cares? Sad.
    As far as your picture...I know you don't plan on selling it..but if you can I would let a professional do the work. I would imagine that it would help the wood if it was resealed. I know that a lot of those old frames were not solid wood and had a veneer. They ought to be able to fix that and match the stain.
    It is a BEAUTIFUL piece of history!

  20. I love reading stories about families most not fancy folks.

    Happy Birthday to your mom and many more.
    My son birthday was on the 23rd and if my mom was still alive she would of been 85 years old.

    Coffee is on.

  21. I LOVE researching our family genealogy too! So far one branch of ours goes back to 12th century spain - cool huh?

  22. oH, Mary...I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole...I would leave it just as it is. So much character is added, I think...
    love, bj

  23. I would keep is just as it is...if someday you find an antique finisher..then you may have him look at it...but I think that the original frame is fine the way it is...
    what a neat find!!!

  24. Very cool picture and frame. I think you should talk to a restorer also!

  25. When I was bestowed with the photographs from my late aunt's home (my Dad's family homestead) -among the photos and such was a picture of my grandfather -first one I had ever seen of him -and it is in a frame that looks to be identical to the one you have acquired. I'm not planning to do anything to the picture and frame I received -as to me, the marks and such on it are part of the beauty of the photo and frame. Plus, if yours is like mine, I don't think they are wood but rather more of a metal with the photo looking almost like it is laminated on there -although I know that's not possible since I'm pretty sure lamination wasn't available back then. I have no clue as to how old this picture of my grandfather is but considering he died in 1922, it's at least 86 years old then. So I'm not so sure to try wood putty and then sanding on this surface would be all that good an idea, would it?
    This picture, along with several other very old photos of my Dad, his siblings and parents was quite a windfall for me to acquire. I'm trying to figure out a way to display many of them -hopefully along the wall above and behind my computer and the desk. The "old" there just makes it that much more beautiful to me.

  26. Mary,

    Happy Birthday to your Mom!!

    I would get advice from an expert about having the frame professionally restored. If not too expensive, I would have it done. Otherwise, I would leave it as it is. The photo is a treasure and the frame is beautiful. They are a precious heirloom to pass down to the next generation. Keeping the frame true to its origin keeps the sense of history alive - in my mind, anyway.

    Whatever you decide will be fine, I'm sure! :-)


  27. Mary,

    What a true treasure!

    If I were you - I would leave it alone for now and maybe later get expert advice.

    But I can tell you this - I've looked at a lot of old antique picture frames on-line and most of what I see are not repaired. The ones from the un-Civil war era sell for $100 to $250 dollars, depending on quality. Maybe one day soon I will buy one.