A while ago I read a genealogy blog post suggesting the use of wedding announcements as a source of family information. In the past, wedding announcements often included the names of family members attending the wedding, where they were from and their connections. This sounded like an intriguing idea, so I sought out as many wedding announcements as I could find for my family. There were not many, but I will share a few I did find. I especially like the ones with descriptions of the dresses.
During my search for wedding announcements, I found mentions of marriage licenses dating back to the mid-19th century. But, the oldest description of a wedding that I found was that of my great aunt Grace Osborne to her first husband Gurdon Fithian in December 1903. [1, 2] The article reveals they were married at her parents (my great grandparents) home and the address. It also describes Grace’s dress as ‘dainty‘, I wish I had a photo.
Photographic Mystery Solved
Several years ago I was given an old, damaged, sepia tone, photograph of a wedding party that was eventually identified as that of my great uncle Ray King and his first wife Minnie Henschen as groom and bride. But who were the others in the image? Well, I found the wedding announcement from June 1920 and it answered that question. [3, 4] Earl Stetler is the best man, Nellie Miller is the bridesmaid, the flower girls are Irene Henschen on the left and Erma Shows on the right.
Flowers, Dresses and Guests
Among my favorite announcements are those that describe the dresses, flowers or guests. My Aunt Lois’s wedding announcement from March 1941 includes details about the flowers, and a few I had not heard of, like rubrum lilies and buddilia(sp?). (Note: I think buddilia refers to buddleia, also know as butterfly bush.) It also includes dress details I find particularly interesting, including the fact Lois wore a borrowed dress. The color of dress worn by my grandmother, Pearl LaFara, is described as Alice blue. I’ve looked it up and it is a light blue, a color I do not recall seeing her wear. Additionally, Lois’s announcement includes the name of several guests and I recognize many as family. [5, 6]
My parents wedding announcement also includes details about the dresses worn. But, in this case I could ask my mother to confirm the colors, additionally she told me the color of the suits worn by the men. I have made an attempt to replicate the colors of the clothing on the black and white photograph of the wedding party.Use the slide bar to view the black and white or colorized image below. [7, 8]
In April 1971 I was a bridesmaid in my sister Susan’s wedding. In this case I remember well the dresses, flowers and guests. But, it was fun to discover the write up of the wedding in the ‘out of town‘ paper with descriptions of our dresses. They were home made, including the matching slips. Susan spent hours restoring the dress she wore. It was worn by my grandmother for her high school graduation in 1913. The tatting, and portions of the dress, had yellowed and required a good deal of care to bring back to an off white color. [9, 10]
Don’t overlook the value of wedding announcements for genealogy. Even if you do not find vitals for your ancestors, many of the details are quite interesting and can give color to marriage records.
- Entry for Martha Grace Osborne, Indiana, Select Marriages Index, 1748-1993 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Indiana, Marriages. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013. FHL Film Number 49938
- The Indianapolis News, Indianapolis, Indiana; 2 January 1904, page 22, column 2, 2nd paragraph.
- Entry for Raymond O. King, Indiana, Marriages, 1810-2001 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Indiana, Marriages, 1810-2001. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013. FHL Film Number 0021300294.
- The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, Fort Wayne, Indiana; 26 June 1920, page 6, column 5, 3rd paragraph.
- Entry for Lois LaFara, Marion County, Indiana, Marriage Index, 1925-2012 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Marriage Record Search. Marion County, Indiana, Circuit Court.
- The Indianapolis News, Indianapolis, Indiana; 7 March 1941, page 18, column 8.
- Entry for Ella Dyer, Marion County, Indiana, Marriage Index, 1925-2012 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Marriage Record Search. Marion County, Indiana, Circuit Court.
- The Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, Indiana; 13 June 1948, page 53, column 1.
- Entry for Susan Jane Lafara, Indiana Archives and Records Administration; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Series Number: 89-204; Year: 1971 Apr; Certificate Range: 009523 – 012677. Indiana, Marriage Certificates, 1960-2005 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016. Original data: Indiana State Board of Health. Marriage Certificates, 1958–2005. Microfilm. Indiana Archives and Records Administration, Indianapolis, Indiana.
- The Daily Reporter, Greenfield, Indiana; 15 April 1971, page 3, column 5.
Born Takeo Furukawa on 15 March 1883 in Tottori-Ken, Tokyo, Japan, little is documented of his early childhood. Family oral history stories say that the young Takeo experienced hunger, poverty and the loss of his family. Additionally, the stories tell of friendship, spiritual learning and scholarship.
My great grandfather, David Louis Osborne, lived at over 20 addresses around Indianapolis between 1876 and 1942. I thought it would be interesting to see all the old buildings and homes where he lived in my hometown of Indianapolis.
My great grandfather, David Louis Osborne (1848-1942), was a widower with two young sons in 1886 when he married Jennie Warbington (1857-1918) in Minneapolis on the 27th of May. I decided it was time to put sources to the story.
While working on a family photo project I decided it would be fun to compare side-by-side my father and his parents, at similar ages, to try and discover a family resemblance.
Jesse King was born in Ohio (probably in the vicinity of Chillicothe) in 1805, he was a son of Philip King and Mary Leah Wright, both of Pennsylvania. Philip King was a farmer, he married Leah Wright in 1801 in Somerset, PA, they had six children, of whom Jesse was the third.
A handwritten letter from Sarah Tucker Lafary to the then president of the United States, Grover Cleveland. It was her last appeal for a War of 1812 pension, sadly the pension was denied. The letter gives a glimpse of a woman who had no formal education, a poor farmers wife, then widow, mother of nine, she probably just wanted some independence through an income of her own.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 2: Challenge
So much about genealogy research is a challenge, perhaps the most common challenge is the ‘brick wall,’ meet Sarah Smith. 18?? – 1846
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 3: Unusual Name
The surnames in my tree are typical of common western European names. However, the name that is unusual among these names is MY surname: LaFara.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 6: Surprise!
Just when you think you know everything about an ancestor, surprise! I thought I knew most everything about my paternal great grandfather David L. Osborne, 1848-1942.
For all of us who are procrastinating about labeling photos I have one thing to say, “Be considerate of the genealogist of the future!” My maternal grandmother was very good about labeling old family photos, and there is one, in particular, I found very informative.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 10: Bachelor Uncle
My uncles are the marrying kind, sometimes more than once!
I had to go back four generations for a bachelor uncle, my great-great-great uncle Conrad Rumple, 1833-1911.
Conrad was an older brother to my great-great grandfather on my matrilineal line, William Rumple, 1839-1912.
My great-great grandparents, George Lafary and Catherine Landon, had a relatively small family, three of their six children survived to adulthood. However, they both came from large families of nine siblings and nearly all survived to marry and have children.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 13: In The Paper
It’s fun to find articles in the paper mentioning one of my relatives. Mostly they are birth, marriage, divorce and death events. But, it’s the oddball articles in the papers I like the most.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 14: Brick Wall
We all have a brick wall, that one ancestor who defies all research. I decided I would work at my brick walls by generation, I broke through the last of my 3rd great grandparent brick walls, now I am working on 4th great grandparents.
I realized I did not have a date of death for my great, great grandmother, Catherine Landon Lafary. A fresh search uncovered the date and much more. Out of place, but once discovered, everything fell into place.
I have many favorite photos among my collection of family artifacts. Currently, my favorite photo is of two little children from 1916 who were a complete mystery to me until last spring.