Tag Archives: Harriette Kaser

Sew ‘n Sew: Three Generations of Sewing

Sewing Things

3 Generations sewing things and my mother as a little girl.

Actually, counting my mother and me, I’m talking about FIVE generations, but I’m showing you some pictures of sewing tools and accessories belonging to and used by three generations– my grand-mother, Vera Stout Anderson; my great-grandmother, Harriet Morgan Stout; and my great-great grandmother, Mary Bassett Morgan.

When I introduced this blog, I said that I most often thought of my ancestors in the  kitchen. However, I have realized that the women have other things in common.  Until the present younger generation, every woman had a sewing basket and sewing was an almost daily activity.

One day, I noticed an unassuming little basket sitting on a shelf, and wasn’t sure where it had come from.

An old sewing basket

The sewing basket

When I opened it, I noticed a note in my Grandmother’s hand and I immediately thought the basket belonged to my great-grandmother Harriett Stout. I wrote Stout beside grandma’s note. Then I realized I was wrong. I should have written MORGAN.  If this belonged to my grandmother’s grandmother, (Harriette Bassett Platt Morgan (1810-1890) it was older than I had thought. So please excuse my error. (I’ve fixed it, but didn’t re-photograph)

Mary Morgan's sewing basket

Mary Morgan’s sewing basket with note in my Grandmother Vera’s handwriting, and my erroneous addition.

Inside the basket was a red tie–you can see the top of it with a buttonhole to attach to a blouse button with a note that says Harriett’s.  But what really fascinated me was a handmade “book” to hold pins and needles.  Bits of fabric, cut with pinking shears, were sewn together to hold the tools of sewing. Some of the “pages” are edged with embroidery floss to prevent fraying. The outside bottom is hard (perhaps aged leather), and the top is brown velvet.

I have shown Great-grandmother’s pin cushion before, but here is the little work of art with a workaday purpose.

Hattie Stout's pin cushion.

Great Grandma Hattie Stout’s pin cushion, used by grandma and mother as well.

So much for needles and pins. What about thread? According to this site, wooden spools were used starting in the 1820s, but at first you had to bring back the empty spool to have it refilled. With the tiny size of great-great grandma’s basket, I’m guessing that she was still using hanks of thread rather than spools. I’m also guessing that those little holes on the “shelf” of the pin cushion could have held spindles to support spools of thread.

When I was a little girl, I loved to go through my grandmother Vera’s button collection. It was not a collection in  the sense of museum-quality things. It was just a repository for spare buttons that accumulate in every house.  I wish I knew how old this painted tin chest is.  It obviously has been around a long time.

Vera Anderson tin box

Vera Anderson tin box with teaspoon to show size.

Vera Anderson tin box

Vera Anderson tin box open

Vera Anderson box

Beat up back and top of Vera’s tin box.

If only that box could talk! What a lot of history it has seen!

I learned to sew by hand, and then by a treadle- operated table-type sewing machine that my grandmother owned. This is a similar machine from a Singer instruction manual. in the late 1800s. Wish that sewing machine had not disappeared in the mists of time.

Table Treadle Sewing Machine

Singer.Model27.TreadleTable Model from instruction book. Public domain.

I do have another vintage sewing machine. My mother had one of the very early electric Singer portables, bought in the 1920s. I still have it, and one day I’ll get it out of the storeroom and show that to you, too.

For more information on sewing notions of the 1800s, this collectors website has a little of everything. (Be sure to check the individual notions listed in the side column for more information.) And as a person who used to sew my own clothes, I found this article on period sewing fascinating. Little did I know that seams were on the outside until the early mid 1800s.

Jeanne Bryan Insalaco of Everyone Has A Story suggested doing posts on heirlooms in a discussion in the Genealogy Bloggers Facebook group and wrote Now Where Did I Put That? Several bloggers have taken her up on the challenge to write about their heirlooms and we hope more will follow our lead.

Other bloggers doing Family Heirloom stories:

You can discover more Heirlooms at Ancestors in Aprons, by entering “Heirloom” in the search box on the right.

52 Ancestors: #18 A Mother’s Day photo Album of Harriette Anderson Kaser

Because my mother, Harriette Anderson Kaser, was a school teacher most of her life, we have a stack of school photos–at least one for every year she taught.  But today I want to honor her memory on Mother’s Day with a photo essay of her being a Mom.

Here’s mother and me in the back yard of a home in New Philadelphia, Ohio. And one when she took me on my very first road trip–to the Smokey Mountains (where I’ll be returning this June). And finally, Mother and me sitting under a tree in the side yard of Grandma and Grandpa Anderson’s house in Killbuck, Ohio.

Always a teacher, she taught me to read before I was five years old and enriched our lives with travel and new experiences. She sewed clothes, helped make Valentine cards and scrapbooks.

When my brother and sister came along, I had to share camera time. Our parents were proud of the first house they bought– in the Linden area of Columbus Ohio and when Paula was born,they took this cute picture in the backyard.

Harriette Kaser

Harriette Kaser and Paula Kaser in the backyard of our house in Columbus Ohio, 1944.

When I was in high school, Mother made me formals–and remade them several times.  I was in Rainbow Girls which called for a formal gown once ever quarter and who could afford that?  She always liked being creative, even when it meant long hours after her regular days work at teaching. I didn’t mind having made-over formals. I actually appreciated her frugal creativity–adding a ruffle or a stole to totally change the look of a gown. I probably never thanked her or congratulated her for her talent.

One of her greatest gifts to us was to keep alive our family history, telling us again and again the stories of our ancestors, and preserving their artifacts, photographs and documents so we would know about our tie to the past. Many of the stories I tell here are based on the family lore she passed on to me.

The biggest chore I gave her was preparing for my wedding which took place the day after I graduated from College. Of course at the end of her school year she also had tests to grade and reports to file.  She handmade the bridesmaids’ and my headpieces, and crafted table decorations for the reception after the wedding, in addition to helping with invitation lists, keeping track of RSVPs and gifts,  and all the myriad mother-of-the bride things. She must have been totally worn to a frazzle by the time we got to the wedding day and helped me into my borrowed wedding dress.

Harriette and Vera Marie Kaser

Vera Marie Kaser and Harriette Kaser before wedding June 11 1960

Of course she was thrilled when grandchildren came along. She was a long-distance grandmother to the first ones–our three sons– for most of their younger years because when our oldest was 18 months, we moved from Ohio to Arizona. Mother and Dad and Grandma Vera Anderson traveled with my brother and sister all the way from Columbus, Ohio to Scottsdale, Arizona so that they could see our second child, Mike.

Great Grandma Vera Anderson, Grandma Harriette Kaser, Mother Vera Marie Badertscher, Michael Alan Badertscher

Four Generations:Great Grandma Vera Anderson, Grandma Harriette Kaser, Mother Vera Marie Badertscher, Michael Alan Badertscher 1964, Scottsdale, AZ.

Mother and dad came to Arizona every year when we were not traveling to Ohio, and they would take our three boys on road trips around the state, and spoil them for as long as they could before they had to return to Ohio.  Eventually, they moved to Arizona and became a more regular part of the boys’ lives.

Next came four more grandsons as my brother and sister had children.

And then my grandchildren began arriving–and Mother was a Great-Grandmother.

Her first great-grandchild was my oldest son’s boy, who delighted us all. In 1989, she and Dad celebrated their 50th anniversary in Scottsdale, and we took the very young Kenneth Paul Badertscher II with us to the party. By 1999, she still delighted in her grandchildren when she saw them at our family Christmas party. She particularly liked them when they were teenagers. Long a high school teacher, she had a soft spot in her heart for adolescents.

After Paul came Bethany, and Great-grandma Kaser, who now had 7 grandsons and no female descendants since my sister and me, could not have been more thrilled. To even the odds a bit, our middle son also had a daughter, so Great-grandma now had TWO great-grand daughters to dote on in her last years.

After my father died, mother lived in a nursing home for several years. She enjoyed nothing more than visits from her grand and great-grandchildren, or to visit my home and get to chat with them.

She faithfully attended the weddings of her three grandsons, and danced with the groom. Her last social outing ever was in December 2001 when she went to the second wedding of our middle son, featured in the four-generation picture above. Harriette Anderson Kaser died in Tucson, Arizona in March 2003.

Thanksgiving Recipe: Harriette Kaser’s Cranberry Orange Relish

My mother’s special dish for Thanksgiving was a raw cranberry orange relish.

Cranberry Relish

Cranberry Orange Relish ingredients

It is so simple, that I’m not even going to do the fancy recipe software with it.

  • 3 Cups raw cranberries, washed
  • 2 Oranges, cut in 1/6 pieces, WITH skin. (Only cut out the stem end)
  • 2 Cups sugar
  • 1/2 Cup coarsely chopped nuts of your choice (optional)

The equipment, however, is a bit more complicated.

Mother’s recipe calls for “grinding” the cranberries and oranges, and she meant with this cast iron grinder:

Vintage food grinder

Vintage LF&C Climax Food Grinder disassembled. Photo from E-Bay.

Handle of Food Grinder

Handle of Food Grinder

On the handle of my food grinder, identical to the one above, you can read L. F. & C. New Britain CT.  You can read the interesting history of that company, that first used the name Landers, Frary, and Clark 1862. [NOTE: Unfortunately that link is no longer good and the Wikipedia article about the company is incomplete.] The brand name is “Climax”, Model #51. This makes it a later model, although I have not yet figured out how much later, than the original “Universal” patented in 1897. I do know that my Grandmother Vera Anderson used it before mother used it.

But I’m sure neither one of those modern women would not have objected at all to using a Food Processor, even though she never owned one.  After all, she took to using an electric mixer with glee back in the fifties.  So here’s my “grinder.”

Food Processor

Food Processor

I divided the ingredients for the cranberry orange relish in half and ran half of it in each “grinder.”

Cranberry orange relish in blender

Cranberry relish in blender

For the modern method, I dumped cranberries and roughly cut oranges into the container of the food processor. Pulsed it a few times, pushed down the sides and pulsed a couple more times and poured it into a bowl where I stirred in the sugar and nuts.  Took less than a minute. (Not counting assembly and cleaning–which has to be done with both tools.)




The vintage method, on the other hand, meant using a shallow pan to catch the ground fruit.

food and meat grinder

Cast Iron Food and meat grinder. Climax, Model 51, L. F. & C New Britain Connecticut, patented 1897

I could only do about 1/3 of the allotted cranberries at a time, and likewise had to grind only about 1/3 of the orange at a time. On the positive side, turning the handle is a muscle-building exercise. On the down side–turning the handle is muscle-building exercise. And it took several minutes to grind this small amount of fruit.

Besides the difference in physical labor and time, very few of us have wooden tables that are perfect for attaching the vintage meat grinder.  That clamp must be screwed tightly to the edge of a table where it can reach under the table for a couple of inches (that ruled out my formica-covered kitchen counters which have a shallow rim.) It will almost certainly leave a dent in the wood, so you don’t want to fasten it to your mahogany dining table. Furthermore, it takes a LOT of muscle power to get the clamp fastened securely, or else you spend all your time turning the crank a couple of times, and then straightening and re-tightening the clamp.

I think the vintage cast-iron meat and food grinder looks charming. But guess which tool I will use in the future to grind fruit for cranberry orange relish?