Friday, July 12, 2013

The Cabinet Maker's Legacy

Johann Lorenz "Lawrence" Hummel, my German immigrant ancestor, was a cabinet maker by trade. His occupation entries on the 1870, 1880, and 1900 Federal censuses confirm this. A cabinet maker was what we might consider a woodworker or furniture maker. Lawrence worked for many years in the car shops of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad in Adrian, Lenawee, Michigan.

During his free time, Lawrence plied his trade for personal use. My proof is this child's chair that has been in my family since 1896.

This chair was crafted by Lawrence and given as a gift to his first-born grandchild, William Lawrence Hummel, my great-grandfather. The chair measures 28 inches tall. It was always the item that could be viewed but NEVER EVER sat upon. When I was growing up, it sat in my parent's living room with my 'Mrs. Beasley' doll in it, sort of as the security guard. I'm glad it was well cared for, and it now sits snuggled in a quiet corner in my home.

seat made of leather and tacks
underside of seat with metal support
carving and spindles
detail of spindle attachments
armrest supports
It is still in its original condition with no repairs. Hopefully, my great grandfather or his sister or cousins used it, as there is natural wear on the arms. I love that I have this treasure and am grateful my ancestor had a skill that could literally be passed on.

© 2013 Sally Knudsen


  1. Wonderful craftsmanship & a beautiful heirloom!

  2. This is a beautiful chair. I like the varied colors in the wood, some areas lighter than others. I do see the signs of wear (maybe wear is the lighter color) on the arms and on the front of the seat--so plenty of little people actually sat upon it for a long time. This chair is over 100 years old and still holds together! Gives me shivers to think of this chair's journey through time to its destination with you.

    1. Thank you. Sometimes I think things end up where they are supposed to be.