My mother, Louise Johnson Rier, told me I must preserve the family history. There were many stories and items, the Grace Means photo collection, my great grandparents wedding clothes, her mother Harriet’s letters, and there was jewelry. For years, I knew about her grandmother’s rings. Most of Nellie Getchell Means rings went to Mom’s granddaughters and great granddaughters. I possess one of Nellie’s ruby rings and my grandmother Harriet’s amethyst healing ring.
Mom did not know the story of this necklace. She gave it to me to investigate, hand it down to coming generations. It was left in my great grandparents home, the house I grew up in. I recently examined it, as a scientist would. I went to retrieve it while documenting the old, old photo albums of the Getchell and Means families. I saw a similar necklace on a woman I cannot identify, circa 1860s to 1880s.
I stared at the photo with a magnifying glass. This woman’s necklace is not the same, but very similar. For the first time, I saw the necklace is a locket. One side has the face of a baby, the other a lock of hair.
I searched through the family genealogy for the mother that possessed this locket with the face and hair of (most likely) her first child. How special. My great great grandmother, Martha Jane Holmes Getchell was born in 1825, married in 1844. Her first child, Thirza, was born in 1845. Martha had three daughters, Thirza (whose first and only child died at 10 months of age), Dora (no children), and Nellie (4 children). But jewelry left in the house at 24 Broadway in Machias over generations, most likely belonged to my great grandmother Nellie, Martha’s youngest daughter. The photo and lock of hair could be her first son, Otis, born in 1883. Perhaps this necklace was a gift to Nellie from William to celebrate the birth of their first child.
The necklace has a Fleur de Lis design. Interesting since I know my maternal ancestors, the Means family, trace back to Scotland, and before that to Northwestern France.
If any readers have knowledge of antique jewelry, please let me know!