Wednesday, April 25, 2012

COLLECTION #215: Grandmother's Wedding Dress

I look forward to Wednesdays, when I feature something unique from my collection, something that I only have one of. Often these individual treasures are special to me because of how they came to be in my possession: a gift, a flea market find, a curbside treasure. But today's treasure is most precious, for it is my Grandmother's wedding dress. Although I'm an 'oldie' myself, and I have two little grandsons, due to the age of my grandparents when they married, the age of my own Mom when she married, and the birth order in our family, this wedding dress is probably older than that of most of my contemporaries' similar treasures. My Grandma Martha Matilda Gruetzmacher Ward was born in 1878, and my Grandpa William Walter Ward was born in 1875. They both married a little later that was common in that day- Grandma was 31 and Grandpa was 34.

Grandma and Grandpa Ward were married on 9 October 1909, in Owatonna, Minnesota. Due to some fortunate circumstances, the wedding dress came into my possession quite a few years ago, and I've tried to take good care of it since then.

I've written about their love story on an earlier blog entry, so I'll link it here, in case you are interested. It's a sweet story! (And the subject of another Orphan Wednesday two months ago).

I can imagine my Grandma, sitting with her own mother, at their treadle sewing machine, perhaps with the help of some cousins or friends, lovingly stitching every tuck, dart, and row of lace. There are some discolored 'bones' in the neck area (these were the little pieces of celluloid that made the neck stand up straight, instead of folding over), and a nice stain along the hem. Perhaps it was from the wedding celebration- they were married in the bride's home in Minnesota. Perhaps the stain is wine or juice. I can only wonder!  Sadly, only a day or two after the honeymooning couple left for their new home in Portland, Oregon, her mother passed away. Such tender memories of her wedding and wedding preparations must have been darkened by the news, which probably arrived by telegram when the couple arrived at their new home.

But I have the dress and veil, and a photograph of my Grandparents, taken, as was common back then, shortly after the wedding. The photo was taken in Portland, so I'd imagine it was taken within a week or so of their marriage. Aren't they beautiful? I love looking at Grandma in that dress, with her sweet face, and imagining what life was like for them back in 1909.

Here's a layout I did about the dress:


Pure Moon said...

they brought the flowers with them to Portland? beautiful. thanks. from Leon

Chris said...

What a treasure, Stef, to have both dress and photograph. They make great looking couple, beautiful bride and handsome groom.