Saturday, October 25, 2008

Heirloom of the Week

It is the sole survivor of a set of stemware brought to Texas from Georgia in 1872.

A lone crystal goblet that once belonged to Mary Caroline Mobley is spending its elder years in the corner of my china cabinet. It has not survived unscathed. There is a large chip in its foot.

The Joseph Mobley family left Georgia and moved to Texas in 1872. Their home had been Coweta County, not far from Atlanta. Joseph's brother Hezekiah lived just north of there in Carroll County and returned at the end of the Civil War to find his farm in tatters. I assume that Joseph also returned to a home that had been looted by soldiers. Hezekiah would remain a few more years, until after the death of their father Rezen, and then would join his brother Joseph in starting a new life in Bastrop County, Texas.

The Mobley family made most of the journey by train, leaving from either Atlanta or Savannah and traveling to New Orleans. At New Orleans they traveled by boat to Galveston and then by train to Paige.

Joseph brought with him a bushel of peach seeds, with which he started a peach orchard on their new farm. One wonders if there are descendants of those peach trees still growing on that farm land or if the orchard was destroyed when Camp Swift was formed. The land that belonged to Joseph and his son George was purchased by the government in the World War II years and became part of that installation.

You can imagine peach seeds making the long journey without problems. I can't help wondering how Mary Caroline managed to bring the more elegant comforts of home, like a set of crystal stemware, and have any of them survive the trip. I wonder if they were carefully packed among clothing in a trunk. Or maybe they weren't all that special to her and were casually packed in dish barrels and many of the pieces were broken when they arrived.

While I love antique furniture and treasure the pieces in my possession, it is these little objects that I know were once touched and used by my ancestors that are the more treasured in my collection.

A family upset by the ravages of war makes a new home in a rough land. Brothers of both Joseph and Mary Caroline had been lost to the war. Mary Caroline's first husband was killed and shortly afterward her only child with him also perished. It is not hard to imagine why they wanted to leave the familiar and strike out for a new life.

A little crystal goblet in the corner of the china cabinet whispers their story to me.


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