The Straley Family

Hello and Welcome to Nanny Goat Primitives' Blog! I am looking forward to sharing bits and pieces about my primitive adventures with you! Brew a cup of steaming hot tea and make yourself at home.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Solitaire Coffee Jars

I have this thing for Solitaire Coffee Jars. Many reside in my kitchen cupboards and some have found a home in my sewing room. I was at an antique store in Elizabeth, Colorado with my cousin Connie last October when I spotted yet another old Solitaire Coffee Jar. This one now holds my growing collection of wooden thread spools. The jars are a wonderful way to display and organize my rusty jingle bells, old clothespins, rag balls, old cookie cutters and quilting scraps. Sweet cousin Connie understands me in ways my family never will (she suffers from the same sickness).

Solitaire Coffee brand was roasted, ground and packaged at the Morey Mercantile Company located on the corner of 16th Street and Wynkoop in Denver, Colorado. The Morey Mercantile Company was a grocery warehouse and supplier that was started by Chester Stephen Morey in 1884. The company has long since gone out of business but the building is now home to The Tattered Cover (a wonderful bookstore) as well as Dixon’s Downtown Grill.

As I’ve mentioned before, my grandmother saved all sorts of different things, “just in case they could be used someday.” One of the things she always saved was Solitaire Coffee Jars. Grammy Byberg used the jars as canisters and she lined them up on her kitchen counter. They held flour, sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, oatmeal, cornmeal, coffee, tea bags, and one or more were always filled with home made cookies. She always kept a slice of bread in the brown sugar jar. Grammy said it kept the sugar soft (she was right).

Grammy Byberg painted the coffee lids orange. She either loved the color or she found a screaming deal on some orange paint because I remember other items she painted the same color. She loved to paint! She once painted Grampy’s car (with a brush) but that’s another story. Daddy always used to tease her by saying that if any of us stood still long enough, we’d get painted too.

Every 4th of July, Grammy would make an assortment of mouth watering pies. She always made those pretty lattice pastry crusts and she did it with such skill and speed. Her pie crusts were always perfect and she knew from experience just how much flour to toss in her large, yellow Pyrex bowl. My favorites were always cherry and apple but all of her homemade goodies were wonderful. Daddy always used to say that he only liked two of his mother’s pies, hot and cold.

I’ll never forget the Thanksgiving Grammy pulled a kitchen chair for me to stand on in front her stove. I think I was six at the time. She stood beside me and loving taught me how to make her special pan dripping gravy using flour from one of her Solitaire Coffee jars, some water from her tea kettle, and a little sage, salt and pepper.

When my grandparents downsized to an apartment, Grammy brought her Solitaire Coffee Jars with her. How many times did she refill those jars over the years as she baked loaves of bread, cakes, pies and cookies for her family and friends?

When Grampy passed away in 1979, I inherited Grammy’s coffee jars. I use them everyday and they bring me such joy!! The lids are still orange! On the underside of the lid for the oatmeal jar, I found her oatmeal cookie recipe. I’ll have to post that recipe sometime. My family has given me REAL canister sets over the years, but I prefer my Solitaire Coffee Jars. They just don’t understand!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

New Web Site Is Now Open

My new web site is finally open for business! Click on the image below and take a peek! I'll be adding more products in the coming weeks. At the moment, I'm painting our home's interior in anticipation of the new carpet installation early next week. Crazy busy!!

Amy Allen of Amy Bug's Primitive Attic designed the beautiful graphics. Amy's delightful to work with and she's super fast!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Mystery Child

In my family tree, there runs a line of romantic, volatile Spanish blood. No one knows where she came from, but the repercussions of her long ago arrival are still felt very strongly by many members of my family.

On a warm fall day in October of 1869 in Wayne County, Missouri, Thomas Medders was tending his horses when he found a beautiful little Spanish girl about four or five years of age. The poor girl was wandering around, lost, in his horse pasture. She couldn’t say where she came from or who her parents were. She only knew her name, Maria Cordoba. No one ever came looking for her, so Thomas and his wife Tabitha Elizabeth, took her in and raised her as one of their own children. They called her Mary Medders. The rest of the family hated her. This hatred sprang from the same foul source that so many southerners found within themselves in pre-civil war times; a hatred which enabled them to suppress anyone with dark skin.

William Henry Reed holding daughter Emily. Mary (Maria) Cordoba Medders Reed holding daughter Cora around 1886.

In February of 1883, Mary married William Henry Reed. William Henry adored her and together, they had four daughters, Emily Cordoba (my great grandmother), Cora Melverda, Clara Ellen and Margaret Henrietta. Poor Mary became ill after the birth of Margaret and suffered miserably for the next ten years. She left this world in July of 1903 at the age of 37. Her beloved William Henry placed a lovely headstone on her grave. He visited her grave until the end of his days.

Their oldest daughter, Emily, was always conscious of her dark hair, dark eyes and dark skin. She was ashamed of her Spanish blood and never ventured outdoors without long sleeves and a wide brimmed hat. Emily never uttered her middle name. Emily never discussed her mother and no one dared to broach the subject.

In the mid to late 1960’s, one of Emily’s daughters, Laura Henrietta (nee Brown) Morrow showed her youngest sister Pauline (my grandmother) and her niece, Dorothy (my mother) the Reed Family Bible that she brought back from Missouri after Emily’s death in 1958. Both my grandmother and mother were saddened to see that someone had long ago scratched Maria Cordoba’s name out of the Family Bible. My grandmother knew in her heart that it was probably Emily who did this callous act. The Reed Family Bible has since disappeared.

In 2004, I traveled to Wayne County, Missouri to meet some of my Reed relatives, relatives that descend from William Henry Reed’s second wife, Eva James Barlow. I learned from an Arkansas cousin that Mary (Maria) was buried in Lowndes Cemetery, in Wayne County. She also told me that many years earlier, someone had removed her headstone. The cemetery is no longer active and the burial records were lost many years ago. If I ever learn where in the Lowndes Cemetery my dear great-great grandmother is buried, I and many others in the family will place another marker on her grave.

I cannot imagine my great-great grandmother’s pain. Maria Cordoba was abandoned by her own family at the age of four or five. She grew up in a hostile household in a prejudiced community. She was despised by her own daughter and erased from the family after her death. God rest her soul.

Monday, April 5, 2010

New Web Site Under Construction for Nanny Goat Primitives

Just a quick little blurb . . . I am in the process of setting up a new web site. I hope it will be up and running by next week. Crossing my fingers!

Deanna :)