Thursday, August 7, 2008

Museums and Antique Stores are great places to find Family History

Image: In foreground is a “fluter” used to crimp pleats into blouses worn by frontier women. From the National Czech and Slovak Museum- reconstructed frontier cabin.

There is nothing like a museum to find items that you can use to illustrate your family history. My previous blog entry showed other pictures I took at the Czech and Slovak museum, especially the folk tracht (folk dress) and historic persons which I used to complement the history of my Austel Family. Also on the grounds of the museum was a reconstructed cabin illustrating the life and times of a Czech pioneer family. The curator let me take a picture of two items which were of particular interest. One was an old iron “fluter” (see above) which was heated on a fire and then used to steam the pleats into women’s blouses and dresses in the pioneer days. That must have hard work. I am looking for a vintage picture of such a blouse that might show the results of using this tool. I had no problem relating the other tool to my German heritage. It was a wooden cabbage cutter used in the making of sauerkraut (see below). On my research trips to Pennsylvania, the first thing I look for is pair of hotdogs smothered with sauerkraut. Sheetz convenience stores, unknown in North Carolina, have some of the best.

Image: A wooden cutter sits on top of a crock, ready to turn cabbage heads into sauerkraut. From the National Czech and Slovak Museum- reconstructed frontier cabin.

Likewise antique stores are good or perhaps better sources for family history since you can purchase an item if you wish to keep it as a part of your own heritage museum. Most antique stores do not mind if you at least take a digital picture.

One of my favorite items are vintage postcards, particularly of places, historic personalities, and political figures. I almost have a complete set of postcards depicting the recent Catholic Popes to illustrate my religious heritage. Also, I have collected postcards of some of the kings and queens who ruled the great monarchies of the world, such as the Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife, Empress Elizabeth.

Another find was a series of vintage postcards of the former Tuberculosis Sanitarium at Cresson, PA (see below). My grandfather, Otto Strike, worked as a maintenance man and as an ice machine operator (according to his death certificate) at the Sanitarium until he died in 1946. He also resided there in one of the dormitories. In the 1950s the Sanitarium was transferred to the state corrections system to be transformed into a prison. When I visited the site in 1992, there were signs hung on the high chain-link fences, topped with barbed-wire which stated, “No Pictures Allowed”. Thus, these vintage postcards are the only pictures I have of where my grandfather once lived and worked.

Perhaps one of my blog readers can tell me if this doll is autentically dressed in a supposedly Polish costume. The manufacture’s label on the bottom of the doll seems to indicate a Slavic origin. Later, I will scan the label and post it here. Can’t now, because I am traveling on the road, but I do have the picture.
I bought this doll in a local antique store. She is supposedly dressed in a Slavic costume or folk tracht. Several of my Strike and Kramp ancestors came from a German population living among Poles (in the former provinces of Posen and West Prussia, now Polish since end of WW II). Many Poles as well as German settled in my Father's former neighborhood of Houtzdale, Clearfield Co., PA. I heard that my great grandmother, Henrietta, nee. Hohnke, usually spoke in German, but could also speak in Polish to some of the other immigrant neighbors.

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