Piece of Work

Piece of Work

Celia Grace Overholtzer

September 22, 1872 – August 5, 1976

Daughter of Samuel Ashton Overholtzer and Mariah Harnish

Revised Celia Overholtzer, Grandma at 12..her first picture

My sister and I have a saying that we use sometimes to describe certain people in our family that seem to have no sense of the scope or magnitude of what they are doing in certain circumstances.  If you are wondering if you might be one of those people that are a “piece of work”, you aren’t, because the designated recipients of that title never even imagine they are and would never even question it.

“Piece of Work” came to mind as I started going through my grandmother’s, Celia Grace Overholtzer,  primitively-carved, wooden box that held some of her most cherished items.  My mother also had one such box by the time she had passed away and I always find it fascinating what people who have lived as long as my mother and grandmother see as their most cherished possessions after multiple downsizing and reevaluations of those items. My mother’s box held treasures such as notes and letters from her children; a minuscule porcelain doll that was her only toy as a child; a letter from her father after he had left following a divorce which he had sent to her when she was 12 but her mother had withheld until she was an adult.

In contrast, my grandmother’s box was filled with pictures of herself and then I recalled how she would often have her Brownie box camera in hand at holidays and events but somehow always ended up with a picture of herself at each of these times.  Those pictures were in her box and it became apparent that she had created a ‘ME’ monument in that wooden box.  Of course, I will never know for sure what her intent was but as I looked around my office, my eyes rested on a picture of my grandmother when she was 12.  As chance had it, I came upon a hand-written story by my grandmother of just how that picture that came to be.  This is what she wrote:

“I seemed to be the available girl of the family to go help women with their children.  My first job, I was 10 years old and my mother let me go home with a cousin whose wife was sick and had 2 little children to take care of.  I got homesick and only stayed one week.  Too many children at home to play with.  The next time Mother let me go was about like it but 2 older boys had a sick mother but they had to be cared for and looked after.  I stayed through the 3 months of summer vacation and my brother took me home to start school.  I used the money they paid me to have my picture taken (12 years old).  That was just the start of being  “another Mother” and helper and it didn’t end there.”

It certainly didn’t end there.  She did go on to spend almost a lifetime of taking care of other people’s children and homes but evidently her love of having her picture taken didn’t end there either as we have hundreds of pictures of her throughout her life.  Celia Grace Overholtzer, you’re a piece of work!

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About Joy McKinnon-Stokes

I have been doing genealogy for over 25 years. My first interest in it was a result of my mother seeking information on her father’s family in England. Her father had left her when she was 12 and she never saw him again. I quickly jumped on board to help in the search and quickly discovered the ‘detective’ part of family history that I have grown to love. I not only found out about her father and where he had ended up but I discovered relatives including a great niece that my mother never knew she had. All of sudden, she had a family from her father’s side.
My father was in a similar situation and had a father that left when he was 9 never to be heard from again. Through time, I also found where his father ended up and within a few years, my mother, father and I went on a genealogical trek to New Jersey and Massachusetts to research further and to see the final resting places of my parents’ fathers. It will always be one of my most memorable experiences and it brought much closure to my parents. This experience is what continues to drive me to help others find out answers about their families.

One Response »

  1. How rich these stories you write about family members. Not all genealogy is about dates and who begat whom. The best part of genealogy is blowing life into the dry facts so that we see our ancestors – just a glimpse – people who lived and loved and laughed. People who were a part of who we are and how we became. You have a true gift

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