Friday Night Family Heirlooms… telling their stories: The Egg Basket

When “heirlooms” aren’t identified, and their stories never told, then they often become items that are tossed or sold – as they have no history, no ties to the family. So take the time to identify your family heirlooms history and memories so your treasures aren’t tossed in the trash. They are just as valuable as your family photographs and also need to be documented. Sometimes it’s not even the value of the item in question; it’s the story which holds the value.

Friday Night Family Heirlooms: telling their stories…

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The “egg basket” was always nearby in the kitchen or the back porch. What was once a needed necessity – is now considered an heirloom in my home.

Granddaddy’s Egg Basket

One of my favorite things I loved doing when I stayed at Granddaddy McKinley’s farm was gathering eggs with his egg basket.

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My great grandfather Edgar Lawson McKinley and his sons; Edgar T. (my grandfather), Richard, Earle, Lewis, Walter and J.W. McKinley. You can see part of the chicken coop on the right side of the photo.

Granddaddy’s chicken coop sat alongside the path that led to the barns. Mostly during the day the chickens were allowed to roam around the yard, but if they saw you come outside with the food pail – they flocked around you. Once they were fed, you could then easily access the chicken coop without the fear of them swarming on you as you peeked through their nest hunting for eggs. There’s nothing like having fresh eggs – I always hoped for the double yolks.

charlie Earle Mckinley young boy

My great uncle Lewis McKinley – you can see a part of the chicken coop off to the left of the path. Looks like a rooster is strutting nearby – probably watching what he is doing.

The one thing I cringed upon entering the coop, was having to step in the chicken “poop”! Now anyone who has been around chickens will understand what I’m talking about; and it’s one place you never want to go barefoot!

Mama had a pet chicken she called necked! Imagine having to go out in the yard and yell that? But they were way out in the country, so no one would have heard. The chicken had no feathers, not quite sure why, but I remember her saying something about the other chickens bothering it, so maybe they pecked them off. The chicken followed her in the house sometimes, but one day the screen door caught “necked” in the neck and – well that was the end of him. Wonder if he ended up in the pot that night? Granddaddy didn’t waste anything – he was very frugal.

There were also a few chicken nests outside in the yard beside the ones in the chicken coop; he had nest boxes on the outside of the smoke house – so they all had to be checked when empty. You didn’t dare attempt to chase a chicken off her nest, unless you wanted to be chased. I never understood why some nests were elsewhere outside of the coop, but I’m sure he had a reason. They were also closer to the house, so that might have been his reasoning – after all if you needed one egg, it was a closer walk to those nests.

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Granddaddy’s smoke house – where he hung the hams after preserving them. On the front you will notice the chicken nest boxes. (Don’t ask me why I took this picture on this angle, so many years ago.) The smoke house is still standing today – mama says it will never fall apart.

My children and grandchildren will never be able to enjoy the fun of gathering eggs in this basket – but they’ll know I did -and the basket will not be tossed – its history has been told and preserved.

Click Friday Night Family Heirlooms to read more stories…

© 2016 Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

Family Heirloom Bloggers:

I started a Family Heirloom challenge in November 2015 asking fellow bloggers to join me in telling the stories of their family heirlooms. Writing the stories of the family heirlooms I’ve been entrusted with, has been on my mind for a long time; the time is now and I plan to write their stories on a weekly basis.

Please check out the weekly Family Heirloom stories of…

Blogger: Cathy Meder-Dempsey at Opening Doors in Brick Walls
Blogger: Karen Biesfeld at Vorfahrensucher
Blogger: Kendra Schmidt at trekthrutime
Blogger: Linda Stufflebean at Empty Branches on the Family Tree
Blogger:  Schalene Jennings Dagutis at Tangled Roots and Trees
Blogger: True Lewis at Notes to Myself
Blogger: Vera Marie Badertscher at Ancestors in Aprons                              Blogger: Heather Lisa Dubnick at  Little Oak Blog
Blogger: Kathy Rice at
Blogger: Mary Harrell-Sesniak at  Genealogy Bank Heirlooms Blog
Blogger: Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme for 2015 Week 24 was Heirlooms. Check out her Blog at –  52 Ancestors Challenge 2015: Week 24 Recap  for links to more Heirloom posts.


About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

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8 Responses to Friday Night Family Heirlooms… telling their stories: The Egg Basket

  1. True! says:

    I’m so behind. You just reminded me of my own Easter Basket and I do have to get it out in the Public. It might get tossed but It will leave a idea for someone one day. Thanks for sharing. I so loved the photos.


  2. treeklimber says:

    My grandmother had chickens and although I never gathered eggs I remember the chickens were aggressive. I enjoyed your story and a simple basket takes on meaning with a story behind it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Evelyn Smallwood Smith says:

    I don’t remember being around chickens as a child. Papa McKinley had moved into the city.
    As a teenager, living in Alabama, we had chickens. I don’t remember running into any real aggressive ones but gathering eggs was not one of my favorite things to do. We didn’t have any particular basket for gathering.
    Mother was particular to Rhode Island Reds. She mentioned something about them being hardier than most others. Mother also liked to make pets out of everything. I think she may have gotten that from her daddy, Erle McKinley.
    Mother also had chickens for many years while living in Gordon, just up the road from me.
    I do know Mother saved baskets, some of them had to be from egg gathering. I wish I’d listened to her stories more closely but it didn’t dawn on me at the time.
    I’m also a basket saver. I have them of different sizes, shapes and usages. There is just something about baskets. Could it have something to do with our childhoods?
    You say you children and grandchildren will never know the fun of gathering eggs. Check out your area to see if there are farms that might offer to allow you to take the girls egg gathering? Of course, it won’t be exactly the same but it could give them the idea and something they will remember. Or even if you have the space where you and Steve could set up a chicken coup?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mary E. Carmichael says:

      I know Uncle J W McKinley had chickens. He had the huge chicken coops because he sold the eggs, but as a child I played at his farm and I remember some of the chickens being slightly aggressive. I remember gathering eggs when Granddaddy (Uncle J W’s brother) and Grandmother McKinley went to visit Granddaddy’s Mother and his sister Aretta. Some of my favorite memories are when we visited Greene County. I remember Granddaddy and Grandmother’s farm in Jones County, Georgia as well and they had chickens there as well. I remember Grandmother gathering eggs and I remember the squawking the chickens did, but we were younger then so we didn’t gather eggs.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mary, Great to see you online and reading my family stories. Hope to see you around more. Maybe you can share some family history remembered with us. Do you remember my grandparents? Did you ever go to their farm?


  4. LOL – Steve will love that – having a chicken coop; he’d say, “yea and who’s going to take care of it?” Him! I’ll look into taking them to visit someone else’s – be easier. yes I love baskets too, always buying them at tag sales at good prices – come in handy for gifts. My daughter usually snags my best ones when I bring them home. Mama had a pet chicken; I forgot to add that. Will go and edit that tidbit in while I’m thinking of it. i would love to have chickens but they require work – I’m too busy on the Internet and knitting to do it.


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