We call ourselves the Dollen Girls. We are seven strong and growing. Only two have had the good fortune of actually growing up with the last name of Dollen. I am a Meyer. We have Lemkes in this little group too. My cousin, Sharon, is a Small!
Whatever our maiden names, we all descend from a long line of Dollen farmers. Sharon is in the unique position as she descends from a long line of family historians as well. Her Grandmother Eva and Aunt Evalyn both had a keen sense of family history. Not only did they save family treasures, they took notes about each item! Eva and Evalyn seemed to know that those yet to come would be interested in their lives.
Upon entering Sharon’s home, she directed me to hang my coat on the coat rack. As I hung up my coat, she gently informed me that this rack was our Great, Great Grandmother Emma Dollen’s coat rack. Amazed, I ran my hand over the wood. I wonder if Sharon delighted in watching each of our facial expressions when she spoke those words. Was this a coat rack used for company? Did their children or grandchildren actually hang their coats on this rack? It does not look large enough for so many coats.
|Great, Great Grandmother Emma Dollen's Coat Rack. Coats were removed to see her coat rack!|
We lunched in Sharon’s kitchen. Sitting around the table she pointed out different family treasures. Her Grandmother Eva’s coffee grinder hung on the wall with coffee beans inside ready for use. This was a special place.
During lunch I learned of her life on the farm. Their cozy home is heated by a wood burning furnace. Her husband, Gil, chops and splits the wood himself. Their apple trees provide fresh apple cider that is made using their apple press. As I drank my warm cider, small birds perched by her kitchen window then flit away!
Dishes piled in the sink and we offered to help. But there would be no dishwashing for us and there would be no dishwasher for Sharon! This “city mouse” knew she was learning about a different way of life. It is simpler way of life that the Dollens once knew.
My cousin, Elaine, possesses those Dollen genes too. Living in a small town, she dreams of a farm. Elaine has a green thumb and grows the most spectacular vegetables. In fact, she even shares farm fresh eggs with this “city mouse.”
After lunch, we move to the dining room and get down to business . . . Dollen business! As we sit down, Sharon let’s us in on another little secret: the table we sit around is Emma Dollen’s dining table complete with 14 leaves! It is a table built to fit her large family of eleven children. Family gatherings must have been an event! My imagination wanders. My Great grandfather, William most likely sat at this table. I wonder if my grandfather sat there as well. Was Emma a good cook? What did she serve? I cannot believe that I am at my Great, Great Grandmother’s dining table!
This is what I love about genealogy. It has taken me places and shown me things I never could have imagined!