Friday, June 8, 2012

Documenting a Marriage, Part 2

The Marriage of William Overington, Jr. and Claudia Wetherill Fries, my great-great-grandparents

I'm still looking at the Overington family for now but this time around I'd like to show how useful newspaper clippings can be. Now, I don't have access to these newspapers on microfilm and so I can't give you advice on going through old papers, but my point here is that you shouldn't throw away any scrap of paper among your family's things without actually reading it. This clipping and another were tucked into a family bible and were falling to pieces - I am forever grateful that I didn't just toss them out, especially because I do not have a copy of their marriage certificate so all my information comes from these articles.

If you remember last month, I mentioned my genealogist great-great-grandfather. I was looking at his parents' marriage and this month, I'm looking at his.

The Frankford Gazette, 16 November 1903

Wedding Bells at Old Oxford Trinity Church. Brilliant 

Reception at "The Pines," the Home of the Groom. 
One of the most beautiful and impressive weddings of the season took place in the historic "Old Trinity Church, Oxford," on Monday evening at 6 o'clock, when Miss Claudia Wetherill Fries was united in Marriage to Mr. William Overington, both well known young people of Frankford. The picturesque little church was artistically decorated with palms and choice chrysanthemums, and was filled to its utmost capacity. The ceremony was performed by the rector Rev. Horace F. Fuller. To the ever beautiful and solemn strains of the march from Lohengren, played on the organ by Mr. James Baird, the bridal procession, in perfect rymth moved up the aisle of the church the bride leaning on the arm of her brother Mr. Horace Teese Fries, who gave her away. The best man was Mr. John R. Savage, a life long companion of the groom. The ushers were Mr. Arthur G. Singer Mr. William W. Foulkrod, Jr., Mr. Henry K. Fries, Mr. George R. Wilson, and Mr. John A. Page. The first three are the sole surviving bachelors of the Thirteen Club of which the groom had been a member for many years.
The bride wore an exquisite gown of white panne crepe de chene, with veil and orange blossoms, a magnigcent diamond sunburst, the gift of the groom, and a shower boquet of lillies of the valley. Miss Louisa Fries, sister of the bride, was maid of honor and wore a beautiful gown of pink crepe de chen. THe bridesmaids were Miss Helen E. Fries, Miss Edith E. Good, and Miss Sarah C. Goodfellow, who wore gowns of white mull most effective in their simplicity.
Immediately after the ceremony, the bridal pair returned to the "Pines," their future home at Leiper and Orthodox streets, where an elaborate reception was held. The grand old mansion is an ideal place in which to entertain, for while over five hundred persons were present at no time was the stairway or hall crowded. Refreshments were served most bountifully on the spacious porch which had been enclosed and the interior illuminated with small incandescent lights and twined with smilax, for the occasion. A most joyous spirit of good cheer seemed to pervade the entire assemblage. 
The bouquet thrown by the bride as her final message of good will to her young friends was caught by her younger sister, Miss Helen, and if there be anything in signs, we know who our next bride is to be. The bride and groom left on their wedding trip midst a shower of rice and confetti, and will be gone about two weeks. The gifts were exceedingly numerous and were particularly noticeable for elegance and refinement; there were also a number of bank checks of large denomination. Many good wishes follow the happy pair wherever they may be, and a host of true friends are ready to greet them on their return.
I love this clipping. It's a perfect example of how a family and a community represents itself at a wedding. From a genealogical standpoint, there is detailed information on the whole family and it mentions all their friends. It describes the wedding gown, which is an amazing companion to the photograph I have of it. A textile historian (Leimomi Oakes, to be specific) graciously looked at this photo for me last year and informed me that the style was the height of fashion in 1903 and likely to have been quite expensive.

Claudia Wetherill Fries in her wedding gown, 1903
The two newspaper articles about the wedding (the one above and another from the Frankford Dispatch), even though they are local papers, seem to back up the idea that it was an extravagant wedding and meant to make a very clear statement of status to the community. It's a good thing they got those "bank checks of large denomination," because I'm sure they needed help paying it off!

William and Claudia, early 1900s (poss. 1901)
I believe that they were honestly a happy couple. Just look at that tintype and try to tell me he doesn't adore her! You may also remember the goofy newspaper photo they took in 1901 (in this post).