Stitching my grandmother, Nora Buchta

On June 6, 2010, I posted a blog about Stitch London’s “stitch yourself” project that is begin done in conjunction with the re-opening of the “Who am I” exhibit at the Science Museum.

I read over the rules and noted the following:

3. You must include your name (you can make a name up if you’re shy) and where you are from (I added the italics).

I’m not what I would describe as shy, but the suggestion with regard to the name did give me an idea to make dolls that represented each of my grandmothers.

I had the good fortune to know my maternal grandmother, but I only know my paternal grandmother through a handful of photographs and letters, and the snippets of her life as chronicled in the Edwardsville Intelligencer of Madison County, Illinois.

In the entry of my home there is a picture of Nora that shows her with what is most likely her confirmation class. All of the boys are dressed in their Sunday best, and all of the girls are wearing white dresses and white shoes, save one who is wearing a white dress with black shoes.

The one in the black shoes is my grandmother, Nora Buchta, so with her confirmation garb as a guide, I made a doll using the stitch-yourself crochet pattern provided at Stitch London.

Here are several views of the doll I made:

front of a crochet doll
Front view of Nora

back of a crochet doll
Back view of Nora

crochet doll on a chair
Nora on a chair

I have to say, my grandmother’s choice of footwear has made me think of her as a bit of a renegade, but she died when my father was still young, and all of the people who knew her well enough to answer any questions I might have had, died before I thought to ask them.

However, I have been able to learn more about her by searching NewspaperArchive.com and Ancestry.com, and while it isn’t as easy as you might be led to believe if you watch “Who Do You Think You Are?” it has been well worth the effort.

To begin with, I have been able to figure out the date the photo was taken, the names of the other people in it, and the occasion.

The picture was most likely taken on Sunday, March 19, 1915. An item on the front page of Edwardsville Intelligencer published on Monday, March 20, 1915 noted “50 persons failed to secure admittance to the Eden Evangelical Church last night when they attempted to witness the confirmation of the German and English classes.”

The article goes on to report “The class consisting of twenty-one girl [sic] and boys presented a handsome appearance. All were especially dressed for the occasion….” The confirmees are listed, one of whom is my grandmother, Nora Buchta.

The world has changed tremendously since my grandmother was born in 1899. Some of those changes (like women gaining the right to vote), she lived long enough to enjoy (voter registration records indicate that in 1940 she was registered to vote in Kings County, California). As she died in 1948, many of those changes she did not live long enough to witness, but it is a comfort to me to be able to go online and learn a little bit about who she was and how that helped to make me, me.

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