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April 11, 2012

Kak's Antique Hutch: A Cool Genealogy Story

Kak's Antique Hutch in our home
One of the antique items that my husband's grandmother, Kak, left him was the antique hutch on the left. This hutch sat in her big farmhouse kitchen for the past 20 years.

Kak always kept her fancy china and dishes in the top. The bottom was full of her favourite candies (Hershey Kisses and Hugs) and other snack food.

Her stereo was in there too and every morning at 5 a.m when she got up, the stereo went on.

But the hutch has a convoluted family history! It was locally made in or near the small town of St. Mary's but we are not sure of its age. It appears to be a unique piece of work, not factory produced.

Its journey began with the Mercer family of St. Mary's, who co-incidentally married into my husband's Purdue family through his 2nd great grand aunt Caroline Purdue (born 1877)

Caroline Purdue Mercer
The hutch was in the Mercer home for many years until it was purchased by one of two sisters Lena Tovell and Elsie Hyde sometime after 1930. The sisters moved in together after their husbands died. The hutch ended up in their back kitchen.

In the 1980s Kak ended up working for the elderly sisters as a housekeeper.  Since it was a small town they knew Kak was connected to the Mercer family and they told her the story of the hutch's history.  When the last sister passed away Kak attended their estate auction and bought the hutch.

Hutch Ready to be stripped
 The hutch was in very bad shape, and had many layers of paint with white being the top layer.  There were several layers of wallpaper glued to the inside. It was such a mess that Kak asked her grandson (my husband) to refinish it for her.

Bits & Pieces
He tore the hutch apart, stripped the paint and wallpaper off, then refinished it and put it back together. Then it went to his grandmother's house in St. Mary's. It was her intention that the hutch be given to my husband on her passing.

And so here it sits in our home. As you can see we've started putting a few of our own treasures in it for display. 

Below is a photo of the hutch when Kak had it in her home. Two other things of interest - see the dishes in the bottom left of the hutch when Kak had it in her kitchen? Those are 4 antique soup bowls, double handled. Kak loved soup and had it every day for lunch.

Kak's Hutch in her home
Those were the bowls she ate her soup out of. And when the dishes were removed from the hutch after Kak's passing, it was discovered that those bowls had my name on tape on the bottom.

Kak taught me to make soup and she knew I made it all the time. How wonderful that she thought of me, her grandson's wife. I eat my soup from those bowls now too.

The last thing that we love about this is the red tray you can see in the photo of the hutch as it stands now in our home. You can't see it very well but it's on the bottom shelf, middle.

The tray was one that Kak used when she worked as a waitress at the Royal Edward Hotel in St. Mary's in the late 1930s. The Hotel was owned by Mr. & Mrs. Pinney and because Kak was a young bride with very little money they often gave her items and furniture from their own home. My husband and I have some of those items in our home now but that's a story for another day.

Kak working at Royal Edward Hotel
And here is Kak as a young woman working at the Royal Edward Hotel, sitting on the beer delivery wagon. She didn't drive the wagon, she just jumped on to have her picture taken.


Larry Mitchell Hugonin said...

What a great story. Love the picture of the hutch.

CallieK said...

The hutch is lovely but the stories make it even better!

Willam Flowers said...

This was very moving, Lorine. Give that hutch a little extra rub today.

GeneBugGrams said...

This is so very special and the hutch and dishes could not have gone to a more loving and appreciative home. Love the background story!