“The word prompt for the 16th Edition of Smile For The Camera is “Bling, ancestor Bling.” I am always drawn to the beautiful jewelry worn by our ancestors in old photographs. The locket that was your Great Grandmother’s treasure, the pocket watch proudly displayed by a male ancestor, the beautiful crosses of old, and the children with their tiny bracelets. While not many of our ancestors were wealthy enough to own multiple pieces of jewelry, there was the one good piece that held sentimental value. Some of us have been fortunate enough to inherit those treasures. Show us a photograph of your ancestor wearing their “Bling,” or photographs of the pieces you have inherited. Admission is free with every photograph!”
My great-grandmother Mary Tennessee Turner, “Mawmaw” Rogers, had a beautiful oval broach that she loved to wear. That simple, yet elegant pin was always perfectly positioned just above her bosom, no matter what dress she wore. It is one of my earliest memories, it seems. As I recall, it had a raised ivory image of a woman’s profile set into a darker gray ceramic background, rimmed in gold.
I have no idea where the broach came from, other than the original image of Sarah Vance wearing it in an old tin-plate image from about 1865. I cannot remember my Mawmaw ever wearing any other type of jewelry, in fact. Not even a wedding band. Only her glasses and the broach.
Fast-forward about 40 years. My Mawmaw Rogers has been gone for many years now. Old photographs and the memories of a child remain. But what of that wonderful broach? I haven’t seen it in many years. I believe my aunt has it now, safely tucked away. As it should be. A very old and very wonderful reminder of tall ceilings, faded and torn wallpaper and hot tea with lemon.
The earliest image here is of my great-great grandmother Sarah Sharpe Vance, my Mawmaw Rogers’ mother, from about 1865. She’s the lady on the right. The last photo of my Mawmaw Rogers is from about 1969, 2 years before her death at age 91.
The broach reappeared for a final time on 7 May 1994, when my cousin Mary (Mary Tennessee’s namesake) wore it on her wedding day: