Saturday, August 8, 2009

Heirloom Rings

The Heirloom Party that occurred on many blogs July 31st has inspired me to share one of my favorite heirlooms.

When I married the Professor, my mother gave me one of her Great Grandmother's rings. Then, last Thanksgiving, she gave the rings counterpart to my sister for putting herself through school.

My sister and I love these rings and almost never take them off. The rings are both 18K white gold with three antique cut diamonds, and they share a similar shape. However, the two rings are distinctly different and they suit each of us in their own way. I like my ring. My sister likes her ring. Each of us thinks we got the better ring!

Since I just moved and currently can't find my binder full of family history, I called up my Grandmother to learn a little more about the rings' background. Hopefully, I've gotten the details right, but if not, I'll correct them later.

My Great Great Grandmother, Francesca Kozel, was my Grandmother's maternal Grandmother. Sometime around the turn of the century, she immigrated to the United States from Bohemia, located in the western half of today's Czech Republic. Although Francesca didn't have the money to pay for passage to the U.S. on her own, she found someone to pay for her. Consequently, when she arrived in New York City, she had to work to pay off her debt.

She worked as a maid for a reasonably well-off family that was also from Bohemia. Despite his family's displeasure, the eldest son married Francesca and together they had four children. Sometime during their marriage, the rings would have come into Francesca's possession. My Great Great Grandfather died at the age of 29, probably from Tuberculosis, melancholy and disappointed by his family's attitude towards his marriage. In doing so, he left Francesca on her own to support their four children, the oldest of which was 9 years old at the time.

She worked two jobs in order to make ends meet. During the day, she worked as a cook for a daycare run by the City of New York. The daycare was located on a boat which was tied to a dock in the East River. Working parents would drop their children off in the morning and Francesca would cook them breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Fracesca's eldest daughter would drop the two youngest off at the daycare on her way to school.

In the evenings, she and her children would return home and Francesca would feed them the leftovers from meals at the daycare. She would then go to her second job of the day. She worked as a cook and a maid for a Mrs. Witherspoon. She would cook the Witherspoons dinner, clean, and gather up all of their linens and return home. At home, she would wash the linens and her eldest daughter, my great grandmother, would iron them for her. She would return them to the Witherspoon's home the next evening.

After her children were grown, Francesca again married. She married a conductor from 2nd Ave. L by the last name of Morris. Morris had lived with his mother all of his life and Francesca became his new caretaker. They lived on E. 65th St. in an apartment five stories up until they became too elderly to climb the stairs. At that point, Francesca's eldest son moved them into his home until they passed away.

So that's the background behind the rings. They were passed on from mother to mother until they came to me and my sister.

(All photos courtesy of the Professor - click on pictures to enlarge)

My ring:

My sister's ring:

Both rings:

1 comment:

  1. oooo... LOVE!
    I love jewelry with history. Thank you for posting this!! :)


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