My mother has a large wooden box called a 'sea chest'. It originally belonged to my great grandfather. She also has a framed copy of his 'Pilots License' which gave him permission to run boats in the waters of the East Coast.
Sometimes I look at that chest, which sits in front of Mom's couch in the living room, used as a coffee table, and I wonder where it has been in its lifetime. These boxes were made to hold the belongings of a seaman when he was aboard a ship. Since GrGrandfather was the captain of a number of boats, I can only imagine how much time that box rocking on the waves.
How I wish that I could ask the questions that plague me at times. There is history in that piece of furniture, and all I know for sure is who it belonged to. Who built it? When and where? What boats did it travel inside of, and what ports were visited. How many years did it travel? What items did GrGrandfather fill it with? Did he keep books inside of it, or records of any sort? What stories could this wooden box share if it was given a voice?
As I said to another researcher, genealogy presents us with all manner of mysteries. We, as the investigaors, want to be able to solve every mystery, but often we can't. As frustrating as it is to give up the investigation of a certain vein, it sometimes has to be done. Sometimes the answer will be found later, in some unique way. We might stumble over it in a writing while looking for something else. Someone who has an old tale to tell might shed some light on it. But, unfortunately, there are times when the answers are hidden for all time and eternity. I think that's the case with this sea chest.