Tag Archives: heirlooms

The Saga of Sam Brown’s Wedding Table

When I was a very little girl, I used to ride my horse over to my grandfather’s ranch from our house. At that point our families ranches reached from one end of Indian Valley to the other. It was still a big deal to be allowed to ride alone that far, at least it felt like it to little me. Little did I know I was carefully watched the whole time by my Parents and Grandfather.

Pre-ride over to my Grandpa's ranch. Notice I didn't use stirrups. I didn't like them.

Pre-ride over to my Grandpa’s ranch. Notice I didn’t use stirrups. I didn’t like them.

I was my Grandfather’s favorite grandchild, and he had many. He made sure I knew it. He purchased my first 4-H pig. That was remarkable because he was not known for going out of his way, in this case to a fair, for his grandchildren. He gave me my first bottle calf that ended up being a reserve grand champion. He always kept candy hidden in his unused dishwasher for when I would come over and secretly sneak it to me. He threw a fit when I got my horse Dusty D, said it was too much horse for me. He was right, of course, but I couldn’t be stopped.

So it was a treat when I was allowed to make the mile trek through the valley, I had to open and close big gates, and jump ditches on my trusty steed, all alone. When I would arrive at my Grandpa’s house he would make a huge deal of it! He would always act like I had just completed a huge day’s work. It would make me pleased as punch to have him be proud and make a big deal over me. When I got off my horse, and put him in the horse pasture, Grandpa would have a big slice of cold watermelon with salt on it waiting for me. We would sit on the porch and visit for a while, waiting for my Dad to come get me. During these visits he would tall me stories about the family.

My Great Uncle Sam, my Great Aunt Ella, my great grandpa (who built the table) Sam, and my Grandpa Fletcher.

My Great Uncle Sam, my Great Aunt Ella, my great grandpa (who built the table) Sam, and my Grandpa Fletcher. Behind them is the big house.

He would talk about his Dad, his Mom, the ranch. These are very cherished memories to me. I felt very connected to people who died years before I was even a thought. One story in particular was my favorite. Probably because there was a gift attached to it. One day he asked me to come on in the big house and look at this table. He told me it was a special table because his Daddy made it long ago, by hand! His Daddy, Sam F. Brown, was born in 1883, right after his parents moved from Tennessee (when I asked my Dad about his grandfather now, he said he talked funny, so I am assuming he had some sort of Southern Drawl left from his parents. This tickles me to no end. Pretty much all I want in life is a southern accent. He also said the Great Grandpa was fond of saying “if you can’t make it, you can’t have it”).

The porch where my Grandpa and I would sit and eat melon. Right inside and to the left was where my table lived.

The porch where my Grandpa and I would sit and eat melon. Right inside and to the left was where my table lived.

My Grandpa showed me this table, it was right against the front door, covered with tools of our trade, buckets, cattle medicine paraphernalia, jackets, etc. He told me that one day this table would be at my wedding, it would be mine. I think he already knew at this point I was going to be the only child and the one that was to be heir to the bulk his estate someday. After my Grandpa died when I was 12, we moved into the big house. The table was left where it was, safe.

We moved out of that home when I was around 20, but that is for another blog. We left some furniture there mainly because at the time we had a travel trailer, then a mini home with no room for a large table. During my mid to late 20’s, I had a falling out with my Dad, and got an off the ranch job. According my to research almost everyone, for generations, have done this, even my Dad! During this time my wedding table was lent out without my knowledge or permission. Since I made it a point not to go into the old home except once in all those years, I didn’t notice until this summer, that my table was gone! The horror!

I immediately asked who had it. I felt relief when I learned a neighbor that watched me grow up had it, mere miles from our ranch! In fact, I can see their house from ours! They borrowed it for their daughter’s birthday party. I wrote a letter explaining I wanted my table back. They responded that as soon as they saw the document that granted me power of attorney over the ranch trust, they would “gladly comply”. The document was sent that day, and I was ecstatic that my table would soon be mine again, as I now have my own home and a place for it! I’m not quite ready for it to be at my wedding, lol. 

If you let your half naked kid ride someone like a horse, you probably trust them with your kid's wedding table.

If you let your half naked kid ride someone like a horse, you probably trust them with your kid’s wedding table.

Family history and heirlooms are incredibly important to me. I live in my Great Aunt’s old home. My coffee table was made by my Great Grandfather. My cast iron pans are from my Grandpa. I traveled back to Tennessee to see the plantation where we came from. I work and live on the same ranches as my ancestors, I’ve spent days and days researching them. This is something I will fight for, because it’s my history.

My Great Grandpa Sam, Great Great Aunt Brydie and Great, Great Uncle Albert, 1892.

My Great Grandpa Sam, Great Great Aunt Brydie and Great, Great Uncle Albert, 1892.


Sadly, despite a polite letter asking for it back, and subsequent daily check in’s, my table is still being held hostage. I think we are on day 10 or 11. I’m heartbroken over this. The worst thing about it is I don’t know why, they are completely ignoring me. I didn’t even get a wave when I drove by them on the road, and everyone in Indian Valley waves when you drive by, it’s good manners!

Here is the thing, instead of being heartbroken and wallowing, I am being proactive. I am going to do my best to get it back or at least find out what happened to it. The people who have it, were considered family at one point, I’m sure that’s why my Dad felt like it was ok to let them borrow my table. They are friends with me on social media. They drive by our ranch everyday. In fact I’m even a partial owner of their ranch. So this makes no sense at all. Even, baby Oprah forbid, if I don’t get my table back, I’m leaving a digital diary for my future ancestors. They will know I tried. Hard.

Hopefully this is just a big misunderstand or miscommunication and my next blog will be me showing off my wedding table! Stay tuned!

 

On a related note.

 

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, family, History, Humor, photos, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized

The Poo Table

An actual picture from the cattle drive between the two ranches.

An actual picture from the cattle drive between the two ranches.


For as long as I can research, and for as long as family lore goes back, our family has always wintered cattle in the Sacramento valley (Butte County) and summered cattle in Plumas and Lassen counties. It’s just how it’s always been.

The cattle trucks we use now.

The cattle trucks we use now.

Now we use large semi trucks to take our cattle back and forth every spring and fall, the trip takes about a hour and a half. But before we had cattle trucks, the family had to move cattle on horseback, twice a year. The trip took at least a week. A week of following cattle everyday on horseback, a week of chuck wagon cooking, a week of no baths, no indoor plumbing. It’s like my nightmare (I am a huge fan of plumbing, huge!).

Great Aunt Byrdie and Harry on the way home from the mountains circa 1930ish

This a picture of my family on the way home from the mountains circa 1930ish

My great uncle and the chuck wagon to his left.

My great uncle and the chuck wagon to his left.

Last spring my Dad found the “port a potty” used by 3 generations before me on these week-long cattle drives. This port a potty could be placed between two rocks or stumps, and it would give you a nice seat to do your business. When you moved on the next day, you simply grabbed your port a potty seat, stuck it in the chuck wagon, covered your business hole and moved on. Ingenious actually.

This was the poo board before. Notice it is damaged - rot and termites.

This was the poo board before. Notice it is damaged – rot and termites.

When my parents showed me this board I said, “that’s mine now” and scurried it off to a friend’s house. This friend just happened to be a skilled furniture maker. I traded him old barn wood from the collapsed barn of last year, for him to turn the poop board into a coffee table for me. And boy howdy did he do a good job!!!! My friend, Jordan brought the finished table over yesterday. It is gorgeous.

Perfection.

Perfection.

If you haven’t figured out by now, I’m slightly obsessed with learning more about this side of the family. I’ve spend countless hours researching, looking through pictures, talking to family members, so something like this table means so much to me. Plus it’s quirky and fun.

Jordan went to great lengths to keep the poo board as authentic as possible. Instead of replacing the damaged board he painstakingly refinished them. Wow.

Jordan went to great lengths to keep the poo board as authentic as possible. Instead of replacing the damaged board he painstakingly refinished them. Wow.

Jordan used old fence posts from the ranch as legs.

Jordan used old fence posts from the ranch as legs.

Now that I got the poo table refinished I think I’m going to move on to the outhouse door my Dad found in this year’s collapsed barn. Ideas anyone?

The door to the outhouse at was at the ranch.

The door to the outhouse that was at the ranch.

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, arts & crafts, Beef, History, Humor, photos, Ranch life, Uncategorized

Merry Christmas Dad

It’s no secret that over that past couple of years, my Dad and I have had our differences. But this summer, we put our differences aside and since then we have communicated better than we have our entires lives. In fact I’ve been enjoying my Dad’s company more than ever before, we’ve even taken ourselves to brunch and bookstore perusing, something that we’ve never done before that point. I’ve been the happiest I’ve been in a long time.
My therapist urged me to really listen to my Parents, without judgement, just curiosity. And since I’ve been practicing this, I’ve learned a lot about my Mom and Dad. I’m really grateful for that. When my Dad and I went to brunch, he mentioned some old rifles several times. I was only able to catch pieces of the stories he was telling me because I was trying not to be too obvious, but I could tell these were things that he cared very deeply about.
My Dad inherited two special rifle from two different family members, his Grandfather, and his Uncle. They each have really amazing, unique stories that I will blog about, in time. My Dad took these guns to his Mom’s, when we briefly lived inside the Chico City limits. My Parents were afraid of getting robbed, so my Dad took his guns and put them under his Mother’s bed for safe keeping until we got a gun safe. When my Grandma died, my Aunt ended up caring for these guns for my Dad. Once I figure this out, I wrote my Aunt a letter explaining how much these guns meant to my Dad, and how much work I’ve been doing researching our families’ history, the scholarship, and how I was planning a special Christmas surprise for my Dad – to get his guns back into his care.

In the truck of my car, right before I started crying from excitement.

In the truck of my car, right before I started crying from excitement.


My Aunt graciously agreed that my Dad did need his guns back. I was able to pick them up on my lunch break, have them cleaned and wrapped before it was time to go home! I’m not sure if my Aunt realized what a gift she gave me (when my stoic, cowboy of a Dad opened his gift, he hugged me. The last time that happened was in May of 2004, when I graduated college). This side of the family has been, well, rather tumultuous, so this was a wonderful peace token and Christmas surprise.
I really planned on waiting until Christmas to give this gift to my Dad, but I was too excited! I spent the day crying off and on in my office because I was so touched that my Dad was going to have an meaningful surprise. We had our office Christmas party the same day, but I was so excited I couldn’t enjoy it! I was too focused on going home to surprise my Dad!
I wrapped it pretty - they didn't look like rifles.

I wrapped it pretty – they didn’t look like rifles.


It was worth it. He had no idea what was going on. I’m pretty sure I had upset him earlier in the day because I called him after I picked his rifles up, I was so excited for him I was sobbing (remember I cry when I am really excited, happy, mad, sad, etc). After I dialed the phone, I could not think of a good reason to call him except I was excited (but I couldn’t tell HIM that), so I told him I loved him and thanked him for being my Daddy, needless to say, that is just slightly out of character for me, so I think I made him a whisper nervous.
The look on his face as he opened his gift was priceless to me. He immediately launched into stories about each rifle. One he restored himself in high school shop class (could you imagine trying to do that today!?!?), the other was manufactured on his birthday (about 60 year’s before his birth, hence the reason he was given that particular rifle). He was just thrilled. I couldn’t remember the last time I saw him so touched.
Right after he opened them. He was so surprised, he just kept picking them up and putting them back down again. Shocked, is the word I am looking for.

Right after he opened them. He was so surprised it took a few minutes for it to sink in.


I asked him if we could sit down over the next few days and really talk about these rifles, as I want to write his stories down for this blog. Both of these rifles have stories that I think need to be shared and I think you guys would enjoy, I know I have been.
Dad's birthday rifle.

Dad’s birthday rifle.


Merry Christmas Beef Jar Readers! Go spend some time with your Parents and learn something about them!!

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, History, photos, Ranch life, Scholarship, Uncategorized