Category Archives: Wedding Wednesday

Wedding Wednesday: Puffed Sleeves

On a late September day in 1896, Elizabeth Hoffman of North Washington, Chickasaw County, Iowa affixed a gauzy, floor-length veil to her hair. It may have been crowned with flowers, although the faded photograph does not make this clear. Flowers or foliage of some kind – perhaps even autumn leaves? – were indeed attached to the front of her dress, although she wore no white gown. Her best dress was likely black or another dark color and fashionably made with a gathered bodice, narrow waist, and sleeves generously puffed to the elbow. (Anne Shirley would have been envious.)

Elizabeth’s attire is evidence that, at this time, even recent immigrants living in rural areas of the United States were aware of the latest fashion trends. Corsets were not worn by all women in the 1890s, and Elizabeth, already slim, was not dramatically corseted if she was at all.1 The gathered bodice was of a style worn throughout the decade, and while the care of these full leg o’ mutton sleeves was time-consuming, they were at the height of popularity in the middle of the decade.2

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Mathias Noehl and Elizabeth Hoffman, wedding, North Washington, Iowa, 1896; digital image 2001, original held by J.H., 2015.

At the age of twenty-seven – her birthday had been just the week before – Elizabeth was to marry a fellow immigrant, Mathias Noehl.3 As it so happened, he hailed from the village of Holsthum, Bitburg-Prum, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany, which neighbored her own home village of Prümzurlay.4 By all accounts, however, their first meeting took place in northeastern Iowa, where Mathias encountered Elizabeth, whom he called Lizzie, at the Immaculate Conception Church in North Washington. She lived there as the housekeeper of Father Probst and the Sisters of Charity.5 The couple was married there on 22 September 1896 and may have celebrated with Elizabeth’s mother and siblings, who had also made Chickasaw County their home.6

A copy of Mathias and Elizabeth’s wedding portrait was shared with me by a relative; I suspect the original is a cabinet card photograph, popular at the turn of the century. I can’t make out much of the setting (is it grass or a rug at their feet?), but Mathias sits in a wicker chair while Elizabeth stands to the side, her right hand on his shoulder. In her left hand is clutched a small book, perhaps a prayerbook. As was typical of the time, neither of the newlyweds smile, and their faces are so faded in the copy that it’s difficult to see the direction of their gazes. Mathias has short hair; in his memoirs, he wrote that that, upon meeting Elizabeth, his blond hair was “unkempt like dried up flowers of the cemetery,” so a haircut may have been in order!7 He has a tidy mustache and wears a wool suit and white shirt. At twenty-eight, having recovered from an earlier heartbreak during his first years in America, he was prepared to settle down and start a family.8 Mathias and Elizabeth would go on to raise nine children on their farm.

This wedding portrait is one of several photographs that I have in my digital collection of the family of Mathias and Elizabeth (Hoffman) Noehl, both immigrants who came to Iowa from Germany in the late nineteenth century. For more photographs of the family of Mathias Noehl (1868-1950) and Elizabeth Hoffman (1869-1957), check out my new Noehl Family Album

Copyright © 2015 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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Wedding Wednesday: The Parish Church

    "St. Peter's Church, Gamston," 2007, Gamston, Nottinghamshire, England; Wikimedia Commons, copyright Richard Croft.

“St. Peter’s Church, Gamston,” 2007, Gamston, Nottinghamshire, England; Wikimedia Commons, copyright Richard Croft.

It would have come as no surprise to the congregation of the parish church of Gamston, Nottinghamshire, England when a shoemaker’s son and a cottager’s daughter married on 14 April 1840.1 For three consecutive Sundays, the banns had been read by the church rector, and as no impediments arose in response to his announcement of the couple’s intentions,2 they were married on the Tuesday before Easter.3

John Fenton and Ann Bowskill (also spelled Bouskill), a bachelor and spinster “of full age,” had their union solemnized in the parish church of Gamston, also known as St. Peter’s Church.4 Just a few years earlier, it had been described in a local gazetteer as a historic but perhaps somewhat dilapidated structure: “The Church dedicated to St. Peter, ‘has once been antique,’ but its brasses have been all destroyed or stolen, and its sculptured ornaments are hid behind many coats of whitewash.”5 St. Peter’s Church dates to the thirteenth century, and received what was apparently a much needed restoration in 1855.6

Gamston, located near the community of Retford, was described as “a good village on the east bank of the Idle, where there is a corn mill and a candlewick manufactory.”7 John and Ann did not remain here in Ann’s hometown following their marriage, however, nor did they return to Bole, where John’s father was the village shoemaker.8 In fact, they seemed intent on pursuing opportunities of their own, as within a year of their marriage, they settled in Worksop, about ten miles northwest of Gamston.9

It would have taken the couple several hours on foot to reach Worksop from Gamston, but a pleasant view would have awaited them upon their arrival:

“On the approach from the east, the appearance of the town, lying in a valley, overtopped by the magnificent towers of the church, and baked by swelling hills finely clothed with wood, is extremely picturesque. Its situation is indeed delightful, and both nature and art have contributed to its beauty, for the houses are in general well built; the two principle streets spacious and well paved, and the inns clean and comfortable […]”10

Worksop was deemed a “clean and pleasant market town,” and if John, described as a laborer in the 1841 census, was not already trained in another profession, he may have found employment in agriculture, at a malt kiln, or at one of the many corn mills.11 It was in Worksop that the couple’s eldest children were born, before, within a decade, they immigrated to America.12

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Wedding Wednesday: A Question of Nationality

I’m not sure if it was meant as a joke, or if newlyweds Gerald and Fern (Thoma) Adam of Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa were genuinely confused. When asked to state their nationalities at the time of their marriage, their answers should have been simple; they were the American-born children of American-born parents, after all, so there was really no question that they were American themselves. Jerry, however, stated that he was of French nationality, while Fern declared that she was German-English.1

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Gerald Joseph Adam, Sioux City, Iowa, ca. 1929; digital image 2012, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2014.

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Fern Lavonne Thoma, Sioux City, Iowa, ca. 1929; digital image 2012, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2014.

From a genealogical perspective, I love it. How often does one have the chance to learn what their forebears knew of their own ancestry? However, if I didn’t already know so much about this couple and their heritage, I might have been thrown off. Jerry’s ancestry was indeed French – and French Canadian, and Polish. Fern’s ancestors, many of whom were likely early arrivals on American soil, can thus far be traced to Germany and the British Isles.

I don’t know when exactly the couple met while on their way downtown to the movie theater, but Jerry and Fern married in their hometown on 8 June 1929 – eighty-five years ago this week.2 Fern was twenty-one, and although Jerry would not celebrate his twenty-first birthday for eleven more days,3 he claimed to be the same age as Fern.4 Their wedding attendants were close friends Merle Montgomery and Dorothy Thompson,5 and, following their ceremony, led by Reverend R. M. LeCair of St. Jean Baptiste Church, the couple took a “motor trip” to the Black Hills of South Dakota.6

Gerald_Adam_Fern_Thoma_Marriage_1929

“Iowa, Marriage Records, 1923-1937,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 June 2014), Gerald Adam and Fern Thoma, 8 June 1929, Sioux City; citing “Iowa Marriage Records, 1923–37,” microfilm, State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines.

If your ancestors married in Iowa between 1923 and 1937, be sure to visit Ancestry.com’s digital image collection, “Iowa, Marriage Records, 1923-1937,” new this year. This database has plenty of detail to offer, as marriage records included such information as age, place of residence, occupation, place of birth, father’s name, mother’s maiden name, number of marriages, and the names of the officiant and witnesses. It’s also an opportunity to see the signatures of the couple – likely the last time the bride would sign her maiden name. Have you found any surprises in this record set?

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Wedding Wednesday: Swell Times in Chicago

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Leonard and Helen (Nelson) Wiese, Chicago, Cook, Illinois, 1924; digital image 2010, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2014.

On the evening of 5 January 1924, Leonard John Christian Wiese and Helen Margaret Nelson were married in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.1 Leonard had been raised in Chicago, the son of German immigrants,2 whereas Helen had been raised in rural Yankton County, South Dakota, the daughter of Danish immigrants.3 The couple met when Leonard sought work in South Dakota, and he and Helen bonded over a shared love of music.4 Leonard and his bride-to-be then moved to Chicago, where they were wed in the home of Leonard’s widowed mother.5 Since Helen’s family was not able to be with them, she wrote a detailed letter home describing their wedding day:

My dear folks,

Now I think that this letter will have to be passed around so I won’t have to repeat all the details of the past few days. We are married! Yes. Now then I will endeavor to tell you the points which I think will be of interest to you.

My dress was very plain but everyone liked it. Dark brown brocaded silk with short sleeves and sort of a drape on the skirt. I have a new coat and hat and new satin shoes.

Well, there were eighteen grown people here. We were married at 9:30. Stanley Smith played the wedding march and Irene and I came from upstairs and met the other two in the room. After the ceremony, a shower of rice descended upon us and the best man and several of the others took advantage of the privilege of kissing the bride. So it was on the order of some of the weddings you read about!!!

Then we had dinner. Turkey, chicken, mashed potatoes, peas, corn relish, cranberries, dressing, Jello, coffee, etc. A huge wedding cake adorned the center of the table. This cake was made to order. You people are going to have some of it. I baked two angel food cakes and a sponge cake. That’s all I did in helping preparations.

I spent some time at the hairdresser’s! Oh, I looked real swell!!!

After supper we had music and some of the men played cards. Then after awhile we started the Victrola and we all danced.

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Wedding Wednesday: “A Very Pretty Wedding”

On 17 January 1934, Roy Lewis Christian Walsted and Frances Marie Noehl were married in Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa.1 Roy was Lutheran, the son of Danish immigrants; Frances was Catholic, the daughter of German immigrants. While Roy was raised in the city, Frances had grown up on a farm. Both had settled in Sioux City apart from their families, seeking employment. Roy worked as a clerk at the Sioux City Gas and Electric Company,2 and Frances was employed in the household of Richard Mullins.3 She provided companionship to his teenage daughter, who was confined to a wheelchair.4 One can’t be sure how Roy and Frances met, but their modest wedding ceremony was described in detail in a local newspaper:

Miss Frances Noehl is Married at Sioux City, Iowa, Recently

Is a Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Matt Noehl of South of New Hampton.

Bride of Mr. Roy Walsted of Sioux City.

FrancesNoehl

Frances Marie (Noehl) Walsted photograph, ca. 1934, Sioux City, Iowa; digital image ca. 2001, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2013.

A very pretty wedding was solemnized at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament at Sioux City, Iowa, Wednesday morning, January 17, 1934, when Miss Frances Noehl, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Matt Noehl of New Hampton, became the bride of Roy Walsted, Sioux City, son of Mr. and Mrs. James Walsted of Chicago. They were married at 7 a.m. by Reverend Leo Berger. The couple was attended by Mr. and Mrs. Harold McDonald, friends of the couple.

They entered the church and advanced to the alter to the strains of Lohengrin’s wedding march played by Mrs. R. J. Mullins.  Mr. R. J. Mullins sang a solo accompanied by Mrs. Mullins at the piano and Dr. Meis playing the violin.

The bride wore an ankle-length gown of light green crepe, with accessories to match. She carried a beautiful bouquet of American Beauty roses. The bridesmaid wore a dress of black chiffon velvet with accessories to match.

Both the bridegroom and best man wore dark gray suits.

After the ceremony they motored to the home of Mr. and Mrs. John P. Hansen at Morningside, an uncle and aunt of the bridegroom, where a lovely three course breakfast was served to the bridal party and immediate relatives of the couple. After breakfast the newlyweds left on a brief wedding trip to Omaha after which they will make their home at Morningside. Mr. Walsted is employed at the Sioux City Gas and Electric Company.

Mr. and Mrs. Leo Buscher and children, Lillian and Richard, of LeMars, Iowa, were present at the wedding ceremony. Mrs. Buscher is a sister of the bride.

The bride is well and favorably known here, and her many friends in this community join us in congratulating her and extending wishes to her and her husband for a happy future filled with success and contentment.5

What did your grandparents wear when they married? Did they take a honeymoon? And, most importantly, did they marry at 7:00 in the morning?



SOURCES
1 “Miss Frances Noehl is Married at Sioux City, Iowa, Recently,” undated clipping, ca. January 1934, from unidentified newspaper; Adam Family, privately held [personal information withheld].
2 “U.S, City Directories, 1821-1989,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 October 2013), entry for Roy Walsted; citing “Polk’s Sioux City Directory, 1933 (R.L. Polk & Co., 1932),” 332.
3 “U.S, City Directories, 1821-1989,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 October 2013), entry for Frances Noehl; citing “Polk’s Sioux City Directory, 1933 (R.L. Polk & Co., 1932),” 248.
4 Kay (Walsted) Adam, conversations with the author, 2003; notes in author’s files.
5 “Miss Frances Noehl is Married at Sioux City, Iowa, Recently,” undated clipping, ca. January 1934, from unidentified newspaper.