Monday, December 10, 2012

A Haviland Christmas

My grandmother received this letter from her youngest sister in early November of 1903. 

                                                         My dear sister,       
Elizabeth "Midge"
You will no doubt be surprised to know I am here but you will be more so when I tell you what I am here for. So to make a long story short I will say I am getting ready to be married and that is the long and short of it. “I expect it will happen on the twenty-fourth of this month but I am not going to have any wedding at all. I think I will go to Minneapolis where I will be sure to not have anyone around. For this reason, I no longer am of the same faith as the rest of you. Before I came home I was received and baptized in the Catholic Church and I will never go back on my faith. So you need not say one word about it for remember this is a wide free world and I have the right to believe as I wish and what is more I will exercise that right and if all my own people turn from me I will not give
up what I believe to be right. The man I am to marry is a Catholic and a better man never lived and I won’t listen to a word from anyone so you may just keep silent on the question of religion. Of course, papa does not like it but he has stopped talking for it won’t do any good to talk to me. You want to remember I am no longer a child but a woman and have the right to believe as I wish. So enough on that subject and let me hear nothing of it from you. Do you hear?
    All are doing nicely I believe. It makes me sick to be out here in the woods and thank heavens
I don’t have to stay here. My home hence forth will be in the city. My honey’s name is James Johnson and he is just the best fellow there ever was. Some day we will come and see you if you don’t give me the cold shoulder now. Well if everyone does I still have Jim and he makes up for all. So if you won’t blow me up on the subject of religion I would be very glad to hear from you. And now good night with love to all.

Your loving sister,

    My great Aunt Elizabeth was married on November 24, 1903 without any family members present. She was 21 and her beloved husband was 24. A few years later, Elizabeth decided to buy herself the set of fine china she never received as a wedding present. Her choice was to buy Haviland china in the Albany pattern.  
     In 1839, David Haviland owned a shop in New York where he sold fine china. Most of the china he sold was manufactured in England. One day a customer entered the shop hoping to replace several pieces of china that were broken. David had never seen such beautiful china and he began a search for that china that took him to Limoges, France. In St. Yriex, a town near Limoges, there was a large supply of of fine white clay called kaolin. This clay had been used by the factories in Limoges for the past seventy-five year. David decide to move to France and build a factory in Limoges. Soon Haviland china was being exported to the United States. David’s son Theodore built one of the largest and best factories in Limoges. He pioneered new decorating and firing techniques. Theodore was convinced the some Haviland should be produced in the United States and in 1936 he opened a large modern factory in the United States. 
     The name Haviland has always meant quality and beauty which is probably why Elizabeth chose  Haviland for her fine china. Elizabeth was always high spirited and an independent thinker and she chose the very best china just like she chose the very best husband.  Elizabeth and Jim were married for sixty-five years. 

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