Thursday, June 22, 2017

Wedding Newspaper Announcements

Previous Posts
Weather for a Wedding
Grandparent's Marriage Certificate
Grandmother's Wedding Ring


Newspaper Accounts of the Wedding

The Day (28 Jan 1914) and The Westerly Sun, Westerly, RI (28 January 1914)



Some time ago, I decided to search the Google News Archive for newspaper accounts of my family since GenealogyBank searches yields little information because Rhode Island is a state dominated by the Providence Journal and they are no longer a Rhode Island based company. 

Much to my delight, my grandparent's wedding was covered in the New London, CT based newspaper called, "The Day". My great grandfather, Charles E. Stewart was a prominent businessman having a growing and thriving laundry and dry cleaning business that was based both in Rhode Island and Connecticut in 1914. My grandfather went into business with his father and his brother, and being ambitious, he grew the business by expanding into big city of Providence. 

At the time of their marriage, by using city directories and the federal census, I knew where both sets of my maternal great grandparents lived. That's very important to the story of my grandparent's wedding.

My grandmother graduated from Westerly High School in 1912 and went to work in downtown Westerly, where she met my grandfather. I enjoyed reading that she had "many friends". It also confirmed that her sister was bridesmaid and my grandfather's brother was groomsman and that the wedding was a "simple affair", as I was told. I didn't know they left for a "honeymoon" to Boston after the service.

When Barbara Fallon found the article that is slanted to the bride in her hometown, it gives me the time of the service as 11 o'clock, which means if they ate, it was probably a wedding breakfast. From my research, I knew the location of my great grandparent's houses and this is another confirmation of a non-census year location.

Now, we see they left on the noon train to Boston from Westerly. It also eludes to my grandmother being popular with young people. She worked in Peters Bros Ice Cream Shop which was on Main St. in Westerly  Wouldn't that make you popular? My grandmother wouldn't eat anything but chocolate ice cream.

The Westerly Sun announcement also confirms that at that time, the Westerly laundry was on the West Side near the Connecticut line. More data for my family business timeline.

I was always impressed that my grandmother was only twenty years old when she married and my grandfather, an established businessman, was seven years older. 

They lived with my grandfather's parents in Westerly according to the 1915 Rhode Island census. 

Rev. William F. Williams lived on Elm St. and was an Episcopalian minister. (1920 federal census)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Weather for a Wedding

The New London Day (CT), January 26, 1914, Google News Archive.
The Westerly Sun, (RI), obtained by Barbara Fallon, June, 2017

The Weather and the Wedding

I didn't enjoy a lot of the wedding planning for my own wedding. I wanted it small and simple. My mother had other ideas, and they were big fancy ideas that my father didn't want to pay for. I considered eloping. When I complained to my grandmother, she laughed and told me weddings were much simpler in the past. "Weddings are for the bride and groom to remember and not for anyone else."  What do you think?

She told me she and grandpa, put on their best clothes, took her sister and his brother went to the church rectory, got married and had something to eat together. She didn't remember what she wore and no one took a photograph. "It was a foggy day.", she recalled.

A few years later, I used a date calculator at work to figure out my grandparents wedding was a Tuesday. I was surprised. I called her on the phone.

Grandmother told me that ministers did not marry people on weekends as they were too busy with church services on weekend days. Another generation later, my parents were married on a Sunday afternoon. I was married on a Saturday and it was hard to find a location for the reception that didn't involve a big expensive meal. If it wasn't for the photographs, I wouldn't remember what was served.

Trying to prove the possible weather, was easier than I thought. I went back a day for the newspaper, "The Day" and learned it was "Unsettled".   Barbara Fallon looked in the Westerly Library archive and discovered the same forecast. At least it wasn't snowy and cold.

The newspaper announcements were similar but not exactly the same. The perspective from each account was slanted to the family of the bride in her state and the groom in his. That's the next piece of evidence to be analyzed.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Grandparent's Marriage Certificate


Grandparent's Marriage Certificate 

Evans and H. Josephine (Barber) Stewart Marriage Certificate, 2004, privately held
link to larger version
Along the road to becoming a professional genealogist, I was given the wonderful advice to send for as many certified copies of the vital records of birth, marriage and death as they are proof for joining many lineage societies and to have authentic records. I made a list of the ones I needed to send for, read the directions at the state and town level and sent my requests for certified copies. 

For purposes of this blog post, I blurred the name of the town clerk certifying the record.

When I received this one from the town of Westerly, I was disappointed by the lack of information provided. Although it gives the full name of the bride and groom and the place of marriage, I knew it could not be all of the information. The book and page number were given. 

Barbara Fallon, genealogist who lives in Westerly, who is a distant cousin, offered to stop by the town hall and look at the record. Fortunately for me, she was well known to them and they allowed her to copy down the information and she emailed me (the screen shot on the right) what she learned. 

You can't beat this kind of service. 

All of the information was correct as far as I knew from my oral family interviews, the Family Bible and the inscription in my grandmother's ring

But, the town clerk should have entered the additional information on the certificate or in a letter to me for the fee I paid. Luckily, I have never had this questioned when I needed this certificate but I have included the additional information on my applications.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Grandmother's Wedding Ring

Grandmother's Wedding Ring, Photo by Midge Frazel, 2015

Grandmother's Wedding Ring

When I became a grandparent in 2009, I knew it was time to spend more time thoroughly researching my (maternal) grandparents because, as all genealogists know, the key to understanding the firm foundation of your family begins with the grandparents. I owe it to my grandparents to be able to tell my family and future generations their story.

My grandmother lived to be 98 years 3 months and 15 days and my daughter remembers her well. I have spent many months now researching them, their homes, the family business and their ancestral families. It has been worth my time.

The questions I asked my grandmother must have seemed endless and she answered them patiently and, as it turns out, accurately. I was surprised at how much she remembered and I discovered that she told me things that even my mother never knew. When she began to fail, I knew I must keep my notes, enter them into my genealogy database and tell her story.

She was the heart of my maternal family and the keeper of the family valuables of my grandfather's family. 

It is only recently that I realized, with one sentence and with one geographic location, that my maternal and paternal charts pivot in Westerly, Rhode Island with her, because my grandmothers knew each other, because as young women, they lived and worked in that small area. I know I am lucky to have this information.

I won't be blogging all that I have learned but I hope this will remind others to research and write down information about their grandparents.

The photo in this post was created with my Flip-Pal scanner. I can't take a good photo of the inscription, which reads, "ES to HJB 1-27-'14" and to which I added, "S-M 11-6-71".

When my husband and I decided to marry, I asked my grandmother if I could borrow her ring to take to a jeweler to replicate. She took it off, held it for a moment and told me that my grandfather would have been pleased that I liked the only ring he could afford in 1914. It is rose-gold and cost $27.00. She told me to keep it and to do with it as I wished. I had it sized to my finger, added my inscription and was married in it. I've been wearing it for 45 years. 

The story of my grandparent's wedding is one I can now begin to tell.

Photo of us showing her wedding ring on my finger, 6 Nov 1971
Original photo, privately held, taken by Hargraves Studio in Riverside, RI