Let me back up...
Once upon a time, I was in college and met a boy. His mother was a genealogy expert. After becoming friends, she offered to help me find some of my history. Within days, she knew more about my family than my family knew about my family... considering that most everyone was dead, except for my father- she accomplished no small task what with all the marriages, divorces, children, and both land and time that was traveled amongst my people.
My grandfather died less than 2 years after his brother. His brother, Horace, died without a will- en testate? Is that the term? So, everything that was of the Merrys did not go back to the Merrys, rather... his wife got it all. Sallie Berry Merry. How's that for a name?
She discovered that my grandfather's SIL had died in 1993- less than 10 years before this time. Sallie had a sister that was still kicking. Her name was Dorothy Rohn and she lived in Kentucky. She had a phone number.
I had a phone.
I was 21 years old and knew no definition of fear.
I called Kentucky... long distance. My mother would be hacked when she saw the phone bill. But, I had no cable and rarely went out to eat. She'd understand. Eventually.
Dorothy thought I was seeking money, as she had inherited quite a bundle. Dorothy thought I was a solicitor. She thought I was anything but her SIL's great grand niece... by marriage. It was a stretch and as she was about to hang up on me, I said, "Wait! Please! I never knew my grandfather. He died when my father was 6 years old and he remembers so little. Please. Can you tell me something about him? Anything? Like how did he die? Do you know?"
She paused and said she didn't know anything about how he died. But, she did know my great uncle and he was a nice man.... she might have a picture of him somewhere that she would mail to me. I offered to pay for shipping and she said, "NO! I have enough money and don't need anymore. Especially from a poor college student..."
Out of the blue, I pulled a small memory from when I used to sneak into the dining room and play with the silver... there were a handful of forks with "O S MERRY" engraved on the back. I asked Dorothy if she knew anything about them.
"Those were your great grandmother's, Ophelia. I have several pieces from that set. Sallie used to give them away at dinner parties. She didn't much care for her."
WHAT?! How can I get invited to a party like that?!
I would not put it together for another 10 years that my great grandmother died when Sallie was 12... and living two states away. My GGU (great grand uncle), Horace, was 7. O S Merry -- Ola Snedecor Merry was 37.
So out there, are forks and spoons, and serving pieces in a beautiful pattern- Buttercup, by Gorham. They have the old markings- the lion, the anchor, and the "G" with "1899 Patent" on the back. The pieces were all purchased at Abbott and Bro in Birmingham, Alabama and are all hand engraved with "O S MERRY" on the back. It might look like "O T Merry" or "O I Merry" depending on how you decipher your cursive.
But, they are beautiful. And I am looking for them. I've been looking for them with a great fervor since 2007. Dorothy was kind enough to return the pieces she had to me, but there are plenty more out there- hopefully saved from being melted.
I picked up genealogy as a side hobby a few years ago and it has been fun to reconnect with my ancestors and learn so much more than I ever knew. Dorothy Rohn has long since died. She had no children, but several nieces and nephews.
My hope is that there is someone on the other side of this search, wondering what they have in their hand and who this MERRY person was that had their name engraved on the back of the silver. I hope they might do a google search one day and this blog will pop up... and maybe, just maybe they'll reach out and contact me. I'm pretty easy to get a hold of. Maybe they'll offer to sell them to me?
That would be neat and a great conclusion to the story. I'm not holding my breath, but I would if I thought it would help.
Aren't they beautiful?