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Provenance Problems

//Provenance Problems
Monogram on Parasol Handle, WHC 0083.035.0002

Monogram on Parasol Handle, WHC 0083.035.0002

This is the handle of a parasol. Like many articles in the museum’s collections it was accepted with very little documentation as to where it came from. The official deed of gift reads: “Handle for parasol – pearl on gold.” While it is pretty and unique, this doesn’t do a lot for us when we are trying to tell its story or put it on display. When I sit down to write a label I need to be able to answer basic questions like how old is it or who owned it? Also, as our storage areas become crowded, we are constantly asking “why is this piece worth keeping?” Determining if it has any connection to the Mid-Valley is one of the first criteria for keeping and preserving it. So the research begins, and it isn’t always very easy.

Luckily, this piece came with a clue to help us wade through the documentation. The end of the piece is monogramed with the letters “C.E.F.” Also, luckily, this piece has an original deed of gift claiming the materials were donated by “Eline Croisan Farmer and Edna Farmer Day” through an intermediary.

Armed with these facts we started scouring the historic record for clues for Eline Croisan Farmer and surprisingly came up empty handed. The closest match was a Clara Ellen Croisan Farmer, whose initials C.E. F. more closely match the monogram on the handle than the purported Eline Croisan Farmer (E.C.F). Furthermore, the style of the parasol handle with the fancy script and use suggests a 19th century piece. This seemingly fits with Clara Ellen’s timeline (born 1862, married 1883, died 1957).

So now we have a theory to go on. Now if we could just find a connection between Clara Ellen Farmer and Edna Farmer Day to help support it with the paperwork. The 1920 US Census records show an Edna Farmer age 26, married to a Clifford E. Farmer in Salem, Oregon.

[1]  A quick look at Clara Farmer’s obituary shows that she had a son named Clifford.[2] Ok, pieces are coming together. A family tree on Ancestry.com shows a marriage between Edna Clifford and an Earl Benjamin Day 10 June 1954 in Portland.[3] Unfortunately, the date and marriage is not cited with any sources. However, Edna Day’s listing in the Oregon Death Index Lists a death date of 5 Jan 1992, a spouse by the name of Earl and an age of 95, corroborating the story.[4] With this evidence we feel fairly confident that the parasol handle is connected to the Farmer family and likely to Clara Ellen Croisan Farmer.

One item down, thousands more to go! Thanks to volunteers Corey and Mike for all of their help in researching issues like this as they arise!

[1] US Census, 1920, Salem, Oregon. http://interactive.ancestry.com/6061/4384922_00377/54709516?backurl=http://person.ancestry.com/tree/57712536/person/42080673228/facts/citation/280990931115/edit/record

 

[2] Oregon Statesman 5 January 1957, 2:1. Text accessible online via the Salem Pioneer Cemetery website. Salempioneercemetery.org.

[3] Ancestry.com tree. http://person.ancestry.com/tree/57712536/person/42080673228/facts

 

[4] Oregon Death Index. http://interactive.ancestry.com/5254/33132_257341__0008-01956/1005289?backurl=http://person.ancestry.com/tree/57712536/person/42080673228/facts/citation/280990931291/edit/record

 

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