Friday Night Family Heirlooms… telling their stories: Aunt Lena’s Broach

When “heirlooms” aren’t identified, and their stories never told, they often become items tossed or sold – as they have no history, no ties to the family. So take the time to identify your family heirlooms history and record your memories so the family 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: Aunt Lena’s Broach


Lena McKinley Van Dusen

I have no memory of seeing this broach when I was young, but mama gifted it to me after I married. At first I thought it was 14K gold, but a jeweler told me it’s Platinum with diamonds. It was given to my mother after Aunt died, by her sister Aunt Emma.

I remember visiting Aunt Lena every summer, we often spent a few days at her home in Atlanta. I remember her as a stern woman, and in as much as I always was a little fearful of her, I loved visiting her house. I can still remember how everything was so in order there, nothing out of place. I loved to explore in her front parlor, but often was caught and politely led out. She didn’t like “snooping”… as she called it, but I was curious about the antiques in there; later I’ll share a few more of Aunt Lena’s gifts to mama.

The first time I ever saw a claw foot bathtub was in her home and she had to give me a stool to step on before I could even get in. I loved taking baths and playing pretend in the tub, so that tub was something that intrigued me there. Another new thing to me there was she never had white bread, there was only wheat bread in her kitchen.


She lived directly across from Grant Park, in Atlanta, which had a zoo and the Cyclorama featuring the Civil War. I do remember going to the Cyclorama on one of those trips, and vaguely recall seeing the lifelike men situated in a war setting;  I’ll have to put revisiting the Cyclorama on my bucket list.

My great escape from Aunt Lena was when I snuck over to the park one afternoon by myself…. the big swings there were just too enticing. I wasn’t there long before here she comes to march me right back to her house…. with a lecture of “didn’t I tell you not to go over there, it’s not safe for a young girl.” Needless to say I never snuck over again!

Click Friday Night Family Heirlooms to  read more stories…

© 2016, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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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This entry was posted in Daily Writings and funnies..., Family Stories, Friday Night Family Heirlooms and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Friday Night Family Heirlooms… telling their stories: Aunt Lena’s Broach

  1. pen4hire says:

    It is great to have this brooch as a reminder of your aunt. Vivid memories, and a beautiful piece of jewelry. I feel guilty having my name on the list, since I’m not a weekly heirloom blogger–just an occasional one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Evelyn Smith says:

    I don’t remember very much about Aunt Lena, mostly stories from Mother. She was Papa’s half sister and I believe her husband was a carpenter. I think we had lots of carpenters in the family, as well as all the farmers.
    Aunt Lena never had children and she was, what Mother called, a very proper lady.
    I also remember Grant’s Park, as we went there a few times as children. If we visited Aunt Lena, I don’t recall. I remember visiting the Zoo, as well. Actually, the Zoo is the one thing I really remember, as we spent more time in the Zoo than the park.
    I remember the Cyclorama and have seen it once as an adult but would love to go back. I saw a sign several months ago that it was being moved. I’m not sure why and hope when they moved it, they kept it in tact. It was moved to the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead. Maybe one day I will make at least one more trip to see it and take my camera. As I remember, it is a magnificent sight to see.
    I look forward to more stories on Aunt Lena’s antiques and more stories about Aunt Lena.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nice that we share memories – too bad we never connected In Our childhood! Thanks for the info on where the Cyclorama was moved. It might be more accessible in Buckhead for me than Atlanta. I’ll see about visiting it there. Mama always said Aunt Lena was her favorite aunt and she never thought her stern; maybe she was different with her. She came every summer and visited them in the farm for a couple of weeks; she raised her brother, my grandfather, after their mother Rosie died.


  3. Michael says:

    Perhaps a trip to the Cyclorama and then park for a swing session all while wearing the brooch is in order – you know, to properly honor your aunt’s memory. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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