The Hometown History column is presented by the Fenton History Center and The Post-Journal. Each Friday, a distinct item from the Fenton History Center collections or archival special collections will be featured. Learn about your hometown history through parts of its past.
If one of the items featured brings back some memories or brings up a question, please contact the Fenton History Center at 664-6256 or firstname.lastname@example.org to share your memory or get an answer to your question.
When packing items to move, we came across an interesting box. Being that it had been donated to the Fenton History Center in 1978, the present staff was not familiar with it.
The hand carved shaving box from the Anderson family that was made in 1799.
On opening the sliding top, a note was found. This box was hand-carved and its last owner was Andrew E. Anderson of Jamestown. The note went on to say that it had belonged to his great-grandfather and was made in 1799. One end had an "A" carved in it and the other end had "1799" carved in it.
The other four sides have diagonal lines within squares that form a pattern of alternating directions. There is one mistake on the top where one square has diagonal lines going in the wrong direction to continue the pattern. This was carved from one piece of wood in that the interior compartments are carved out. The top is made to slide in the carved-out grooves along the sides.
The note called it a shaving outfit, and there are two compartments made to hold a straight razor and a brush. But just who made this box?
Andrew Anderson would have had four great-grandfathers. Andrew Anderson was born in 1845 in Sweden. Because in Sweden at that time patronymics were still being used, the great-grandfathers may not have had a name that began with an "A." So some genealogy research was started to try to identify just who may have made or at least owned the box in previous generations.
Using the resources at the Fenton History Center, we may have identified a probable great-grandfather of Andrew E. Anderson. The note included the birth date and death date of Andrew E. Anderson, and from that the search began.
The obituary and record from Lake View Cemetery gave more information on the family. Having the names of the children and wife, plus the names of at least some of the sisters of Andrew, gave us information to identify the correct Andrew Anderson both in the Jamestown area and in Sweden.
Using the Fenton's Research Center Swedish sources, a family matching the Andrew Anderson family was located in Vinberg, Halland, Sweden. Andrew's mother, step-father and most of his siblings came to the United States in 1871 and 1873.
Tracing the family back in Sweden, Andrew's name was really Anders Johansson Andersson. His father was Johan Andersson, so he either decided to take the same last name as his father had used, Anderson, or he adopted a version of his stepfather's name of Andreasson.
His mother was Inger Olofsdotter, her father was Olof Svenson and his father was Sven something. More time is needed to check Sven's last name. Inger's grandfather was Borjes, and again, more time is needed to search his last name.
Johan Anderson's father and Andrew's grandfather was Anders Johan Anderson. He was born in 1822 in Vinberg, Halland, Sweden. According to his birth record his father was Anders Jonsson. The family group was not found in the Clerical Survey for that time period. But a check of the birth records in that parish in 1799 produced an Anders born to Jons Svenson and Anna Britta Andersdotter on Oct. 27. This could be the Anders Jonsson, father of Anders Johan Andersson, and also the person who either carved the box for himself using his first initial and his birth year or someone else could have carved it for him.
More research needs to be done to confirm this preliminary and hastily done research. It is nice to receive items along with the stories. And it is especially nice to be able to verify the stories with research. No matter who carved the box, it is a wonderful example of craftsmanship on an everyday, useful article. The wear along one end shows that this box was well used over the years and because it passed through four generations in two countries, it was a much-appreciated keepsake.
The purpose of the Fenton History Center is to gather and teach about southern Chautauqua County's history through artifacts, ephemeral and oral histories, and other pieces of the past.
Visit www.fentonhistorycenter.org for more information on upcoming events.
If you would like to donate to the collections or support the work of the Fenton History Center, call 664-6256 or visit the center at 67 Washington St., just south of the Washington Street Bridge.