For years, Bruce Cadwell had been using a chair passed down through his family as his desk chair in his home in Boise, Idaho.
“It was a cool chair,” said Cadwell, 76. “I was using it for my computer chair.”
As a great-great-grandson of Ezra Meeker, Cadwell thought the chair belonged to the Meeker family after it was passed down to him along with a desk in 2003, after his mother passed away.
On Oct. 10, Cadwell had a chance to make the trip to Puyallup to unite the chair with its long-ago home at Meeker Mansion.
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This wasn’t the first time Cadwell traveled to Puyallup to return furniture. The desk, also belonging to the Meeker family, was returned by Cadwell to the mansion about 10 years ago.
The history, said Cadwell, is that Ezra and Eliza Meeker had possession of the desk and the chair since the Meeker family moved into the mansion in 1890. The furniture then passed down to the Meekers’ daughter, Ella, who gave it to her only daughter, Bertha.
When Bertha passed, the furniture came into the hands of her brother, Charles L. Templeton, a physician and the grandfather of Cadwell.
From there, Cadwell took ownership of the desk and chair through his parents.
“When my grandmother passed away my grandfather gave (the furniture) to my mother,” he said.
The desk made its return to Meeker Mansion around 2007, but the chair slipped under the radar. Andy Anderson, historian at Meeker Mansion, said that he knew the chair belonged to the Meeker family right away after he and Cadwell exchanged pictures.
It took me years to say I have a chair for (Anderson). I didn’t want to give it up. It’s very comfortable.
Bruce Cadwell, great-great-grandson of Ezra Meeker
The chair had the same curvature and shape as some of the dining room chairs at Meeker Mansion, Anderson said.
“We had three that matched it,” he said. “How wrong could you get?”
Even so, it took a while to get the chair back to Meeker Mansion.
“It took me years to say I have a chair for (Anderson),” joked Cadwell the day of the chair’s delivery. “I didn’t want to give it up. It’s very comfortable.”
Now, the chair sits in the dining room of the Meeker Mansion with its counterparts. One difference in Cadwell’s chair is the upholstery, which was changed around 30 years ago.
“This chair had the same leather (as the other Meeker chairs),” said Cadwell. “My mother was using it so much that they put new upholstery on it.”
But there’s another defining characteristic of Cadwell’s chair — it has armrests.
It’s possible that there might be a matching “Mr. and Mrs.” armrest chair out in the world, said Cadwell, but that it could be anywhere.
Anderson already knew about Cadwell’s relations to the Meeker family because of a contact list kept by the historical society, but that often, it’s hard to tell if a piece of furniture really did once belong to Ezra Meeker.
In May, a loveseat once belonging to the Meeker family made its return to the mansion by a great-great-granddaughter.
“Every once in awhile someone will call up,” Anderson said. “If it comes from the family, it’s a pretty sure thing. If it’s not, (claims) can get a little out there.”
Cadwell traveled to the Meeker Mansion with his wife, Linda, and his sister, Kerry Syverson, the great-great-granddaughter of Ezra Meeker and lives in Centralia.
“We’re tickled to have (Cadwell),” said Anderson. “We’re pleased to have (him) be a part of us and add (Syverson) to the family list.”
Now the dining room table at Meeker Mansion has a chair on each of its four sides.
“I’m sure they’re glad to be together again,” Cadwell said about the chairs.