Sunday, November 8, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Oldest Ancestral Item

Time to go on a treasure hunt with Randy Seaver for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun!

Here is your assignment, if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music, please!):

(1) Lorine Mcginnis Schulze on her Olive Tree Genealogy blog asked this question several weeks ago in

(2) So have at it — what is the oldest ancestral item in your collection of artifacts and stuff?  

(3) Tell us all about it in a blog post of your own, in comments on this blog post, or in a post on Facebook.  Be sure to link to them in a comment on this blog post.

Thank you to Lorine for the idea and to Linda S. for suggesting it.

I don't have many ancestral items to begin with and very few old ones, but I did take my time thinking about this to make sure I had determined the oldest item.  I'm pretty sure it's a photo of my Gorodetsky great-great-grandparents taken in Kamenets Podolsky, Russian Empire, from about 1890.  It's the only family item I have from before 1900.

The second-oldest ancestral item I have is a photo of a different set of great-great-grandparents, the Brainins, from about 1906, taken in Manhattan.

And that's almost everything I have that can count as an "ancestral item."  I do have my great-grandmother's set of silverplate tableware, but I don't have a date for them.  She married in 1914, so that's the oldest they are likely to be, but there's a good chance they're more recent.


  1. I think when people move around a lot not many things are kept. Those who have lived in ancestral homes (with attics and basements) for generations have a lot of cool old stuff. My family kept moving west each generation.

    1. Ah, but your family still managed to keep quite a few items. Considering that half of my family moved from the Russian Empire to the United States and that the other half were dirt poor and had the patriarch die very young in two successive generations, I'm happy I have anything!

  2. I love your 1890s photo with the baby on the pedestal. Having that photo taken was likely very important to them - as they are all dressed up - and it meant enough to someone to bring to America and keep among the family possessions.

    1. If I have identified the photo correctly, the woman is my great-great-grandmother Esther Leah (Schneiderman) Gorodetsky, whose death in 1908 in Russia started my family's chain migration to the United States. Four of her children named their first daughters after her. Hey, I should check with cousins to see if anyone else has a copy of it!


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