Today I found the box that I keep my great-great grandmother’s wedding band in (I think it’s maybe the one she got it in, actually) and it was empty. I haven’t worn it in a long time, because it’s very thin and fragile, but I remembered that I traveled with it a few years back and I was worried that maybe someone snagged it out of my luggage even though I didn’t check it through. I was sick until I found it about a half hour later, luckily, in a different little box, one my aunt sent to me when she lived in the Netherlands in the late 70s.
I got the ring from my dad’s cousin, and I remember when my grandfather (my dad’s dad) found out that I had it, he was kinda like, Hang on – how did SHE end up with that? I think he hadn’t seen it in years, and maybe didn’t know that it was still knocking around all that time later. It only ended up with me because my dad and his cousin were best friends and she had the ring but she didn’t’ have a daughter, so she passed it down to me about twenty years ago.
My great-great grandmother, my father’s father’s father’s mother, Mary Ann, was born in 1853, fourteen miles east of California, Missouri. She married my great-great grandfather, James Calvin Monroe, in 1869. (The ring came later on, though.) James Calvin fought for the north in the Civil War, his brother for the south. When my great-grandfather was born in 1885, they named him Ulysses Sidney Grant Monroe. I think, but I’m not sure, that James Calvin knew General Grant. I’ll have to ask my dad’s cousin. At any rate, he admired him enough to name his son after him. Scholars say that the “S” in U.S. Grant didn’t stand for anything, but in my family we all know it was for Sidney. Mary Ann lived until 1947, which is pretty incredible given the lack of penicillin and the fact that she and James had nine children. I wish I could read her diary.