Sarah's Chair

A chair that once belonged to my great-great-grandmother Sarah Sturges.
A chair that once belonged to my great-great-grandmother Sarah Sturges.

I am the product of two immigrant tales, one the basis of conventional American history, and the other largely lost. Family reunions with my father’s relatives were held at Fairfield Cottage, a national historic landmark built by my great-great-great-grandfather, Jonathan Sturges. The dining table remains set as it was when J.P. Morgan once visited the home, and photos of the Sturgeses in black Victorian dresses and artifacts collected from the past 200 years decorate the walls and shelves of the gothic mansion. The home drips with incessant proud heritage. Information about my ancestors who arrived in Cape Cod in 1623 can easily be browsed on the Internet or in The Morgan Library. In contrast, my mother doesn’t know her grandmother’s maiden name. Rosen was given to my maternal great-grandparents at Ellis Island when they arrived from a shtetl outside Odessa at the end of the 19th century. We have fragments of information, but my grandma took most of it to her grave. I do know she grew up in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and slept on the fire escape with her family on hot summer nights. My maternal grandfather’s family (the Lubells) traces back to Lublin, Poland, and then England for several generations before emigrating to the Bronx c. 1900. My mother was the first one in her family to graduate from college. The pictured chair once belonged to my great-great-grandmother, Sarah Sturges. It now sits in my tiny Brooklyn bedroom, a very physical reminder of my two lineages. 

Place(s): Brooklyn, New York

– Rachel Cockrill

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant