It’s Easter and I run upstairs to get some serving dishes. In a cabinet that holds many things like serving dishes, art supplies, home-made jams and empty jars, sewing supplies, I see the old white teapot that had been displayed by my grandmother and then my parents on a shelf in their dining rooms. The teapot was a special item to them. It had come to Canada from Plymouth England with my great, great-grandmother Jane Towle Nichols. It was the one item, or one of the few items, along with photographs of Jane’s parents that my great-grandmother, Emily Nichols Robertson, had received of her mother’s. It is to my eye a rather average teapot but it was well used and obviously well-loved. It is stained inside from a lot of tea and has a crack that was repaired but is obvious. It has to monetary value, just a sentimental one and it intrigues me.
Emily, whose mother Jane died when she was 17 or so and then when her father, Stephen Nichols, remarried Emily was sent from Nova Scotia to Chelsea, Massachusetts, to work for her keep. The second wife got rid of the three children from the first marriage and then had five or so of her own children. That has always seemed like a harsh thing to do, but probably more economical. I doubt that many second wives were thrilled to raise or care for the children their husbands bore with the first wife.
While I know little of Jane, I know a little more about Stephen. He was a shoemaker and a business man. He sold shoes to sailors who came into Halifax harbor. When they returned, he rowed out to their ships to deliver their shoes and gather his money before they could spend it all on shore. I remember Emily’s daughter and my great-aunt Mabel telling me this story when I was a child. Mabel and Susan were the two grandchildren from Massachusetts whom he took on these journeys when they visited.
In my mind, I would love to meet my these ancestors of mine. They have a story to tell and I would love to hear it. To know how they felt about the life they led and the changes, emigrating from England to Canada and then to America. I have no way to gather more details about how they, but I do have the teapot to remember them by and a story to tell some day.