My Great-Grandparents, Harry and Minnie Skipper, owned a farm in Tonkawa, Oklahoma near the Oklahoma-Kansas border. My grandfather bought the house and when he passed away it was left to my father and his four siblings. The farm is still in the family today. You can read about Harry and Minnie here: https://ellajaneanne.com/2019/11/22/harry-ward-skipper-and-minnie-mccarta/.
As a child, I spent much time with extended family at the farm. We would spend holidays and have so much fun playing in the hay barn, chasing the cattle, and learning to shoot. The old farm house was built circa 1900, has no running water, and electricity wasn’t added until after it was built. As a child I remember taking baths in a big metal tub where we would heat the water and then take turns bathing. You always wanted to go first so you would get the warmest bath. Because of the lack of running water, to this day the old farm house has a separate outhouse. It is fun to step back in time to see how Harry and Minnie lived during their lifetime.
As our lives became busier and the old farm house started to deteriorate, we were not able to stay in the house anymore. About this time I noticed an old cedar chest and asked my father about it. He told me that it was a chest my grandfather Mariable Franklin Skipper had made. I asked my father and his siblings if I could have the chest and they approved. It needed some love and elbow grease to restore it, as it had a lot of gunk built up on from siting in the old farm house so long exposed to the elements.
My grandfather would have graduated high school about 1933, and this chest was built by him in a high school shop class. He attended Tonkawa High School in Northern Oklahoma. When I got the cedar chest home, I was talking to my grandmother, Ella Jane Patterson, she asked me what was in the chest. I told her that it was just full of some old moldy blankets. She then told me of the wedding ring quilt topper her grandmother, Jimmie Patterson, had hand quilted for her. She thought it might be in the cedar chest. She also told me that in 1963 when my grandparents divorced, my grandfather moved the cedar chest from their home to the old farm house. My grandmother, Ella Jane Patterson, wondered if it was still in there and if it could be salvaged. I was worried that even if the quilt was still in the cedar chest that it would be ruined. It would have been in the chest for about 33 years. I started pulling the very musty smelling blankets out and was shocked to find the wedding ring quilt that my great-grandmother had hand quilted for my grandmother and it was in great shape.
Since it had not been quilted yet, my grandmother’s sisters, Dorthy and Mary Lou, had it cleaned and then had it quilted for my grandmother and it was then passed down to me from my grandmother. I treasure both the cedar chest and the quilt. It helped start my love of old things.
Several years later as the house deteriorated more, I decided to try to salvage more objects from the farmhouse. I ended up with four solid wood and heavily painted doors. These four doors ended up as my desk, headboard, corner shelf and a TV stand. These have become prized positions for me, they make me feel so close to my great-grandparents.
It would be many years after receiving the cedar chest and quilt before I started researching my ancestors and it has quickly become my biggest passion. I love my ancestors, I love being able to see small glimpses into their lives and feeling connected to them.
4 thoughts on “The Treasure Inside Cedar Chest.”
Beautiful memories, so glad you were able to salvage some family history!
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I love that you were able to salvage and use doors from the old farm house! And that cedar chest and quilt are beautiful family history treasures.
I loved reading about my grandparents, Harry and Minnie Skipper. I loved them so much and loved staying with them a lot on their farm. I think I remember seeing the cedar chest Uncle Marriable made. What a treasure it is and how it survived unscathed is a miracle. Your grandmother’s quilt is beautiful. Aunt Jane was my favorite aunt. She would hang out with my sister Mary and me when they were at Grandpa and Grandma Skippers. She was so much fun. When my son Steve was born he had cerebral palsy. I had to take him to Children’s Hospital in OKC for a day of testing. My sweet Aunt Jane rode a bus or taxi and came to the Children’s Hospital and sat with me for hours! I was alone and appreciated her company so much. Thank you for all the research you do!! Ruth Petty
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I love these kind of family stories. Anything to do with cedar chests and patchwork quilts always appeals to me, and I have a slight twitch of envy at your finds! Congratulations too on the imaginative way you have made use of the doors from your ancestral home.
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