Alton Lyle Cardinal
Transcription of the text hand-written in a Mead spiral-bound notebook. Date of writing is not given. This text includes items which were subsequently sold or given away.
Transcribed January, 2014.
See also the expanded catalog of the material legacy described here.

Old Things

The things listed and described in this book are family heirlooms and keepsakes which have been in my possession for a long time.

I have tried to identify each item and give some description of its history and origin. I also have described its condition, particularly when it has been refinished, restored, or changed.

The order in which the things are listed has no special significance.

Blanket Chest

This chest was the property of my great grandfather, Samuel S. Johnston (1806-1886), and was given to me by his daughter Mary Ann Johnston Cardinal (1842-1935) who was my grandmother.

Blanket Chest

Brought to USA (?) from Ireland by S. S. Johnston (later sergeant in regular U.S. Army including Mexican and Civil wars)

Original color appears to be dark blue. [Perhaps it was a U.S. Army chest.]

Note: Secret drawer

I am not sure of the origin of the chest. It may have come with S.S. Johnston when he emigrated to the United States from Ireland. Or, it may have been an army chest acquired when he served in the U.S. Army during the Mexican War and Civil War.

The chest was made of only six boards: one each for bottom, sides, ends, and lid. When I received it (about 1923), the chest was in sound condition except for the split lid. Also, the molding along the front edge of the lid was gone, one hinge missing, one handle missing, lock inoperative, the lid and lock of the inside compartment missing, and the exterior scarred from handling. The original dark blue paint was intact, but scratched. The damaged lid had been reinforced, using cut nails. See the secret drawer under the inside compartment.

Recognizing its value as a family heirloom, my mother and father fixed it up for use in the house. The missing molding was replaced on the lid front edge, casters added, a strap (made from my father's old pants suspenders) installed to hold the cover, and the entire chest covered with a coat of varnish-stain.

I undertook restoration over a period of time ending in 1983. I removed the varnish- stain, retaining the original paint, strengthened the cover with dowels and screws, and applied two coats of paint of a color maatched to the original by the proprietor of Monte's Paint & Decorating. To preserve the wood, I painted the previously unpainted bottom exterior and applied a colorless spray finish to the entire inside. In the process, I had a hinge made by a blacksmith at Heidgen Co. (115 S. Broadway, Green Bay) to match as well as possible the original. The original is on the left and the copy on the right. Leather handles for both ends were made for me by a shoe repair shop; the original brass plates are on the right end, those on the left I made from a piece of new brass plate, screws are new.

Rocking Chair

The bent-wood arm rocker belonged to my grandmother, Lillie Roy Strahl Whipple (1860-1921), and it was used by her until her death in 1921. Then it became the property of my mother, Lillie Strahl Cardinal (1877-1948), until her death in 1948. It was constantly used all those years. After Mother's death, the chair remained in our attic until I completed refinishing in 1982.

I removed all of the old finish and refinished with Formby's tung oil finish rubbed into the natural wood. I replaced the seat with new leather tooled by my sister-in-law, Helen Lu Ferslev, in a pattern similar to the original. New tacks were used. Other than minor joint tightening, no restoration was needed.


The desk was made by me as a manual training class project in West High School, Green Bay, Wisconsin, during the school year 1928-29, the first year in the new building. Mr. Leaonard F. Stacker was the teacher.

The desk has a flat top on tapered legs. There is one wide drawer. Lumber species is butternut, stained walnut color. Dimensions: 29 inches high, 30 inches wide, and 18 inches deep.

Book Ends

Wooden book ends, also made by me as a manual training class project at about the same time, are made of gumwood stained and varnished. The design represents my initials – A.L.C.

Thread Box

This is the sort of box commonly used in stores which sold spools of thread during the nineteenth century.

This particular box was left by former owners in a ranch house (the Taft house) we moved into when I was about two years old (1915). It was used by me to keep small toys. The ranch was located at Indian Prairie, near Spokane, Washington.

A penciled note on the back of the lower drawer reads: Save this box for Mrs. Taft if empty any time in 11/17/1891.

I removed the old finish, made a new front for the lower drawer of red oak, turned and painted wooden knobs for the lower drawer to match the original black Bakelite knobs on the upper drawer, and applied clear finish.

The box has been used by my wife, Bea, as a jewelry box.

Pocket Knife

This knife was given to me by my grandmother, Mary Ann Johnston Cardinal, for Christmas 1920 when I was seven.

One side of the handle is marked Alton Cardinal, Green Bay, Wis. On the other side is a picture of me taken on my seventh birthday, April 10, 1920, at Oneida, Wis. The picture was damaged by me while removing rust with kerosene.

Round Table

The round table was made by my grandfather, Joseph Cardinal (1830-1913), and came to my father after Grandpa's death.

As I remember it, the table was a dark color. It was later painted black, and then, still later, gray.

My son, Peter, now has the table.

Sewing Chair

This low wooden rocker belonged to my mother, Lillie Strahl Cardinal (1877- 1948). I don't know when or how it was acquired, but I remember it as an old chair when I was a child.

Originally, the chair was finished with a dark brown stain and had a brown cane seat (fragments of the cane are still there). In the late 1920's, Mother installed a dime store plywood replacement seat. At some time, one of the six back splints was broken; I removed the opposite one to maintain symmetry when I painted the chair gray in the 1950's.


This doll was given to my mother, Lillie Strahl Cardinal (1877-1948), by her father, Hermann Strahl (1830-1880), for Christmas 1879 when she was two year[s] old. Because her father died one week later on New Year's Day 1880, she treasured the doll all her life. Shortly before she died, Mother asked us to give the doll to our daughter, Phyllis, when she became age two.

The doll's head, hands, and feet are china. The body is stuffed with sawdust. She is a blue eyed, black haired lady fifteen inches tall.

Doll Trunk

The doll trunk was my mother's. I'm not sure of its age, but I think it may be as old as the doll (1879). At any rate, it dates back to Mother's childhood, in the City of Fort Howard.

The trunk is [a] small version of a traveller's trunk with lock, leather handles, rollers, metal fittings, and simulated leather (paper) exterior covering. The inside is complete with tray and paper lining. Dimensions are: 14 inches long, 9 inches high, and 8 inches deep.

Doll Furniture

The doll furniture belonged to my mother when she was a child. She was born June 12, 1877, and live on North Ashland Avenue in the City of Fort Howard until she was thirteen.

Child's Dishes

This set of china is a small tea set for children to play with. There are also two pewter castors.

These items belonged to my mother, Lillie Strahl Cardinal, and date back to her childhood in the 1880's. I do not know exactly how or when she got them, but they were among her prized possessions.

Match Box

This match box was used by my parents for many years. I don't know its origin, but I remember it in the basement at 132 South Oneida Street, Green Bay, Wisconsin, from the mid-1920's. It was mounted near the furnace and remained there when the house was sold to Carl and Marian Sippel in 1950 or 1951. They continued to use the box for matches in the basement until 1982. They gave it to me for Christmas 1982. It continues in use for matches beside our Franklin stove.

The box is wall-mounted of cast iron, and is of self-closing design. It measures about 3¾″ × 2¼ × 1″ – just right for a handful of wooden kitchen matches. These words are cast on the lid: Self Closing – for matches &c. – Patented Dec. 20, 1864 – D.N & Co. – New Haven. The bottom is made rough as a place to scratch the matches. The remainder is coated with black enamel.

In 1983, I removed the original enamel and recoated it with new black enamel.

Child Chairs

The four chairs have interesting histories.

The green straight chair was bought by her parents for my wife, Beatrice Ferslev, when she was four years old (in 1919). It was used specifically for her to sit on in the one-seated family automobile while her older sister sat between the parents and the younger sister sat on mother's lap.

The other three chairs were given to me after my *cousin's children outgrew them (about 1915). The training chair was a brown color – stain and varnish –; we never had the tray. The "kitchen" chair was red enamel. I remember the rocker as yellow – probably a stained or natural finish. When Uncle Abe Frei brought the training chair from Spokane, Washington, out to the ranch on Indian Prairie, he was embarassed; so he put it in a burlap bag. I named the chairs for ranch horses – Major (training chair), Queen (kitchen), and Flo (rocker) and drove them with string lines. The chair backs and rear legs still show the wear from being dragged across the floor. I still refer to them by name.

* Eva Cady Robinson

Bedroom Set

The set – bed, dresser, comode – was new when my parents (Gilbert and Lillie Cardinal) were married in 1901. The bed no longer exists. The set is made of cherry wood. The dresser originally had a mirror in a frame so that the mirror could be tilted. My mother removed the frame and hung the mirror on the wall in the 1920's. The frame is gone, but the mirror was left in attic at 132 S. Oneida St. until Carl Sippel gave it to me in 1985. The bevel-edge mirror has a broken-out section which my mother concealled with picture post cards.


This piece of furniture was my Grandmother Cardinal's. I don't know its previous history, but she gave up house keeping in 1913, so it must have been old then. It was a dark stained finish, painted white in the 1920's for use in our bath room. One of the towel rack bars was broken as early as I remember and has been removed.

Game Board

This game board measures about 29″ square with mesh pockets at the four corners. It was patented by The Carrom Company, Ludington, Michigan. This is Style E, No. 1 Archarena. It is designed to play Carroms (registered) and checkers on one side and croquinol on the reverse side, as well as many other games. It came with an instruction book (now lost) covering 57 games (I think). Playing pieces are wooden rings in red, green, and clear, black. There are also two wooden cues 26″ long.

The game set was bought in 1918 or 1919 by my father, Gilbert Cardinal, while we lived at Oneida. He particularly enjoyed playing Carroms with my mother and me.

A few of the rings have broken.

Field Tools

These tools belonged to my father, Gilbert Cardinal, prior to 1920. Most of them were probably in 1917 when we moved onto a farm at Oneida, Wisconsin.

Shop Tools

These tools belonged to my father prior to 1920. Some of them came from my grandfather who died in 1913.

Shop Tools

Acquired by me during high school years (1927-31) or before.

Food Chopper

The food chopper belonged to my mother, Lille Strahl Cardinal, and we used by her until her death in 1948.

Whe he began keeping house, my son Peter took it and continues to use it.

Desk Lamp

Flexible (goose neck) study lamp was purchased for my use when I enrolled at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in September 1931. The dark green color was chosen to harmonize with the green stained dormitory furniture. For two school years I lived in Room 202, Tarrant House, Adams Hall on the university campus.

The lamp was used by me during four student years and subsequently in all the various roominghouses until I entered the army in March of 1941. After the war it continued as part of our household, but was not used so much. During the past few years it has served as an auxillary shop light in the basement.

The electrical cord was replaced once.

The following entries were added at the back of the notebook. Provenence and authorship of this text is less certain than the preceding. (Notice the larger proportion of misspellings.)

Silver Shaving Mug

Niels L. Ferslev

Mug contained bar soap: add water, work up lather with shaving brush. When finished, dump water, leaving soap.

Cup and Saucer

Bought and given to his mother by Niels L. Ferslev in Denmark before 1890. [Schliesvig-Holstien]

Moustache Cup

From the home of Gilbert Cardinal. History not known.

Billfold and $1 Bill

Owned by Gilbert H. Cardinal. [Large size bill; 1923 silver certificate.]

Dagger – Civil War

Taken from the body of a Confederate soldier (killed in action) by Joseph Cardinal (soldier in Union cavalry).

Butcher's Clever with sword handle

Used in Napolean's army.

The sword handle was probably a replacement, used instead of a regular handle because no other was available.

It was later found in a Wisconsin blacksmith's trash pail.

The rescuer brought it home and his wife used it to cut kindling. (Early 1800's.)

It travelled with them to Washington [state] and back, when it got its real workout chopping wood (1930's).


Gilbert H. Cardinal

Mostly during War with Spain (1898). He served in Porto Rica [sic].)

Orange spoon

For eating oranges cut in half.

Combination Pen, Pencil, Stamp

Mrs Frank Whipple

probably 1900


Probably belonged to Lillie Strahl Cardinal (possibly to her mother Mrs Frank Whipple)

Chamber Pot

Used by family of Alton Cardinal on trips, etc. 1950. [Johns Bros, England]

Pivot Rock Ensign