Creating my grandparents’ wedding story
Using 1921 souvenirs
Perhaps one of the most important stories I want to leave my children is the one about my paternal grandparents’ wedding. I can’t really say why. This is the grandma I knew best, the one I spent more time with, the one they’ll never know; perhaps I want their story shared because the importance of family increases with age.
When thinking of their wedding day, I can easily cough up the facts.
- The date: August 24, 1921
- The place: a private home in Tacoma
Sadly, sometimes this is all the information we have about a wedding so long ago. Suppose, however, you have several souvenirs from the actual day. How do you organize or make sense of them in order to create a meaningful story for your children?
August 24, 1921-An attempt to recreate the time and events of the day
STUDIO PHOTOS. We are lucky to have more than one studio photo. It’s the details these photos provide that make them so valuable. I love the pom-pom style “flowers” on the sheer skirt of grandma’s dress, and, that Carl wears a ring on his middle, not third finger, is of interest.
PERSONAL PHOTOS. We have several personal photos from the day. I add these here for the background. Those of you who have read my posts understand the significance of location, to see the home site, then and now. I’ll get back to the “setting.”
NEWSPAPER ANNOUNCEMENT. Sometimes we’ll see these when researching, but not always. Again, I feel most fortunate to have this record. (Grandma’s name is pronounced LAY-la).
WEDDING ANNOUNCEMENT. Perhaps more rare is a 1921 announcement.
Yellowed by the clip saved along with it, the announcement guarded this additional information.
- location was 4008 N. 24th, Tacoma. YAY, AN ADDRESS!!!!
- 40 people attended
- ceremony was at 3 pm
- Reverend Milligan performed the ceremony
- grandma’s dress was “white chiffon and net”
- her bouquet was made of Ophelias, Bavardia, and Maidenhair*
- Hazel was her attendant
- Francis Chase was the best man.
We see that after the honeymoon, the couple lived with her parents, Elmer and Orah Butterfield at 4008 North 24th Street, and that grandma graduated from Lincoln High school in 1916. I did not know grandma graduated from high school; I thought she attended through the eighth grade.
PERSONAL DIARY. How do I know the family lived at this address? Elmer, Lalla’s father, kept two tiny diaries. Among other things, he noted prices, birthdays, how the family spent Friday nights, and dates and addresses when they moved:
MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE WITH CHURCH SEAL. I recall when I found the envelope. It was in the back of a drawer with other papers, discovered when my mother moved. I’d never seen it and couldn’t believe our fortune.
The seal reads “St. Paul Methodist Episcopal church of Tacoma” on the outer circle, and “Tacoma Washington” on the inner circle. It is a booklet of Bible verses, poems, and floral drawings. The guest list, beginning on the page above, was perhaps the best “find.”
Witnesses: Hazel Butterfield and Francis Chace.
Guests include: Elmer H. Butterfield, Orah M. Butterfield, and…
…Elizabeth Pomahach, Mrs. A J Bussey, Mrs. Grant Walter, Rosamond Langton, Wm. Langton, Jas H. Lytle, Mrs. Wm. Langton, Mr. and Mrs. R. A. Zimmer, Raymond and Warren Zimmer, Mr. and Mrs. F. A. Smith, Harry Houston, Mrs. H. S. Robinson, Bobbie Robinson, Donald Robinson, Loverna Robinson, Mary J. Langton, Warren W. Langton, William A. Langton, Mrs. J A Houston, Anna Rasmussen, Mrs. Sidney Rounsley, Wallace Rounsley, Fred L. Langton, and…
on the last page Cora Lytle, Frances Langton.
THE RING. On my right hand I wear the ring from 1921, grandma’s ring.
Another important fact: this was my mother’s engagement ring. By 1957, the year of my parents’ wedding, grandma had been long divorced from Carl and by then married to Eddie Haggie. Grandma passed her ring to mom; since both grandma and mom wore this ring, it holds a special significance.
LOCATION (LOCATION, LOCATION). As you know, I LOVE to see the then and now photos. Whenever I come across an address, I go to Google Earth and start searching. If I find the home or location, I take a few screen shots, go to Paint, crop, label, and save, and later place them into my journal or post. Below is a great example:
Look closely at the home behind grandma in her wedding pictures.
Notice the chimney towards the left side, the sloped roof to the right, and the double windows upstairs? These features make this house distinct.
Now take a look at this house, at 3914 North 24th, a couple spaces over:
The chimney, double windows, and sloped roof are the same at this house.
Here is another view of the chimney at left, and the double windows on the right.
The red arrow at left shows the house with the sloped roof, and on the right is the front yard at 4008 North 24th, the home where my grandparents were married. This isn’t proof, but I feel it’s reasonable to assume that grandma was standing with the house on the left behind her in the wedding photos.
Putting it all together to write your story
Finding a method to your madness
Studio photos, personal photos, newspaper clippings, the announcement, a diary entry, the marriage certificate with guest list, the ring, and reasonable proof of location together make for a great story.
The “facts” you’ve collected from the sources above can be inserted into a simple timeline, a slide show, or even a few short paragraphs to create your ancestors’ story.
If you still feel stuck, go to the Search bar and type in Get Started. All articles about getting started will appear in blog form.
Happy profiling! ❤