Amethyst Ring

My mother's amethyst ring.
My mother's amethyst ring.

My mother has a purple amethyst ring that dates to 1877, the year my great-great-great grandmother lived on a small farm in settlements that became what we know as New York and Pennsylvania. Her name was Nancy Elizabeth McWilliams and my great-great-great grandfather procured the ring from a travelling salesman for their engagement. It is difficult to say where the ring is from, as travelling salesmen, so their name indicates, traveled all over the country. I similarly know little about my distant family, only that Nancy’s predecessors immigrated from all over the British Isles. Nancy gave the ring to my great grandmother Helen who gave it to my mother when she was 21 (around the same age as Nancy when she got engaged). Nancy grew up in a strict protestant household, one that considered dancing “a trick of the devil’s”. But Helen also described Nancy as having a “mischievous twinkle frequently in her eyes”, maybe the reason she married a man that spent his free time playing the violin (an instrument that my sister Erin has become quite good at) and participating in raucous barn dances. When Helen was ready to start a family of her own, she moved to Los Angeles where my grandmother was born. My grandmother raised my mother in San Diego, and I grew up in Berkeley, California. My mom isn’t yet sure what she will do with the ring, but I only assume either my or my sister’s eldest daughter will wear it when my mom is ready to pass it along.

Place(s): New York, Pennsylvania, and California

– Sarah Paxson

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more