Friday, August 5, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moment - The Tidd Family Violin

Today I would like to share with you the story of the Tidd family violin. My aunt by marriage, who is no longer married to my father's brother, has remained very close to our family. She has generously shared with me several of the Tidd family keepsakes, which my uncle received from my grandmother Zella Alice Straw Olsen whose mother was Lucy Cordila Tidd Straw. I am not sure why she did not pass them on to her own children, but she knows I have a love for family history.

In the seventies she called one day and offered to me a couple of pieces of old furniture. My parents went with me to her house to see what she had. She showed us an old upright desk of the Olsen family that had once been an old pump organ (refinished by my grandfather and his father) and a small table of the Tidd family painted black and in pieces. My father had a talent for carefully refinishing items and he felt we could do something with these keepsakes. He very lovingly brought back to life the upright desk and then the table. I am not sure which was the most daunting task. These pieces of furniture are in prominent places in our home. My father has been gone over twenty years now, but these are constant reminders of his deep love for us and his ancestors.

About ten years ago this same aunt called and again had some things she thought I might be interested in. I made the drive to her home wondering what she would have to share with me. To my amazement she showed me a very old violin and explained it had come from my grandmother's family. She may have given me more items than the violin, but this instrument which had fascinated me long before I ever saw it, is all that I remember. You see, in my grandmother's hope chest where she kept all of her ancestral treasures was a note about the old violin. Here is what the note said:

Story of the Old Violin
These words were given by Herbert H. Tidd when he brought the violin to Greeley, Colo. to be given to Donald E. Bliss.
Summer of 1937
"My Father, Daniel Tidd (1824-1913) sailed on a whaling ship, the "Endeavor" in 1842 from New Bedford, Mass. They were three months reaching Madagaskar Island in the Indian Ocean.
He was a lad of 18 years.
He had left home unbeknown to his parents and sisters at Holliston, Mass. When they went to his room they found there words on the chest - "Gone to Sea". You see he ran away.
While on the island he made a bargain with another sailor giving him the sum of $8.00 for this violin. This sailor said he had stolen the violin from a negro.
Father owned and played on it until his death in 1913. I used it for a number of years in orchestra work, the Allerton Orchestra of Independence, Iowa.
To go back - When on the return trip to New Bedford, Mass. in 1845 they stopped at the historic Island of St. Helena in the Southern Atlantic visiting the building in which Napoleon lived during his exile.
After that return Father was on ships sailing between Boston and Caracas, Venezuela.
His trade was that of a shoemaker while at home.
In 1860 he came to Iowa - brought the violin with him.
At one time the violin was cracked and became quite unusable. It was sent to Geo. Fisk, of Greeley, Colo. in 1917 to be repaired, he was a violin maker. He did a good job of repairing it.
The happy memories of seeing and hearing Uncle Daniel play on his violin will remain long with his friends and relatives. C. D. B. (Cora Darling Bliss)
In addition she sent a letter to my grandmother 17 Nov 1955 about the "Old Violin."
She stated that Aunt Sarah was a Maine girl and was a very fine woman.
My mother Abigail was born in 1831 the youngest of four girls and the one boy.

A copy of this same note was in the case with the old Tidd family violin. It certainly was a serendipity moment for me. The long imagined violin was now within my arms, cradled with loving care. It had been handed down from father to son, uncle to nephew, cousin to granddaughter of Daniel Tidd, mother in law to daughter in law and finally my aunt to my son Daniel Tidd LeBlanc. I had it looked at for further repair and was told it would not be worth the cost. They did restring the one missing string, but it is more a commemorative piece in our home.

My two main rules for family history sharing, are always make it known you are interested in family keepsakes and when they are offered make haste to obtain them. I will share another similar experience next week.

Serendipity - making desirable discoveries by accident.

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