To celebrate this Mother’s Day, I decided to create a composite of weddings of the women in my matrilineal line. I feel a special affinity for this line, because not only does it include my mother who I miss dearly, and my grandmother, who I knew as a child, but these women passed their mitochondrial DNA to me.
Weddings, in families, mark the boundaries of generations and often, at least historically, the passage into adulthood. These happy events are celebrated by family gatherings that create lasting memories. Today’s wedding culture has become an industry, but weddings weren’t always that way. Often, they were relatively quiet events, more practical than celebratory and limited to family. However, before the advent of cameras, we have no visual records, so the memories died with the attendees.
Sooo….I can hear you thinking, as you recollect some certain relative….maybe no visual records isn’t such a bad thing!
No worries because, today, that certainly isn’t the case. Come along for a 5-generation jaunt through the bridal gallery of (some not so) well-behaved women. Let’s face it, there is always more to the story than meets the eye!
Nora Kirsch marries Curtis Benjamin Lore
My photographically preserved family bridal history begins with separate photos of Nora Kirsch and Curtis Benjamin Lore taken in Aurora Indiana when they married on January 18, 1888. Oral history tells us that Nora made her own wedding dress and descended the stairs into the parlor at her parents home, the Kirsch House, to marry Curtis.
Of course, the big secret is that Curtis was already married to someone else and let’s just say that this marriage was arranged by shotgun. Given the choice of an angry estranged wife in Pennsylvania or sure and certain death at the hands of an angry father in Indiana, Curtis chose to get married and was divorced by the Pennsylvania wife a few months later.
Nora always modified her wedding date by a year so her children wouldn’t figure out about the shotgun circumstances. No one counted on genealogists to dig up the family secrets. You’re welcome, Nora!
These photos were clearly taken in a studio and there are no photos of the actual wedding. That’s REALLY unfortunate, because if there had been, Nora’s grandmother, Katharina Barbara Lemmert Kirsch, five generations back for me, would have been in attendance and we would have a picture of her – which we don’t today. She passed away the following year.
Edith Lore marries John Whitney Ferverda
Twenty years later, less one day, Nora and Curtis’s daughter, Edith Barbara Lore married John Whitney Ferverda in the minister’s home on Friday evening, January 17, 1908, in Rushville, Indiana. This wedding was obviously very low key, probably because the bride’s father had been ill with both typhoid followed by tuberculosis, so there was no money for any kind of a wedding. Nora was supporting the family by sewing clothing and making alterations.
The groom’s family was Brethren, lived in northern Indiana, and was probably not pleased with his marriage outside the faith. The easiest thing to do? Marry quietly, most likely with her parents in attendance. The local newspaper carried the announcement the following day.
Nov. 18, 1908 – Miss. Edith Barbara Lore and Mr. John Whitney Ferveda were quietly married at the Presbyterian church parsonage in North Harrison Street last night by Rev. J. L. Cowling.
This photo of Edith was taken about that time.
This photo of John and Edith together was probably taken about 1920. It’s one of very few of them together – maybe 3 total.
You can rest assured that Edith and John were both in attendance at the wedding of their son, Harold Lore Ferverda in either 1934 or 1939, but there were no photos of that wedding either.
Barbara Jean Ferverda marries Dan Bucher
Their daughter, my mother, Barbara Ferverda, married Daniel Bucher in 1943 when he was on leave from the Army, in the midst of WWII. And no, there are no photos of that wedding, but we can get close. I think these photos may actually have been taken on the leave when they got married and may have even been the day they married. They too were married either by a Justice of the Peace or in a minister’s home.
I think they eloped, although that was never discussed nor any reasons why. They married in Joliet, Illinois, no place near home and in the neighboring state. Another family secret floated to the surface. You’re welcome, Mom! Wink!!!
From things said later, I get the distinct impression that although they went together as “steadies” throughout high school, that this wedding was not planned much in advance. A lot of wartime marriages were rather spontaneous and happened prior to the man being shipped overseas.
Another Pictureless Wedding
Mother’s niece, Lore’s daughter, Nancy, married in 1958, and I desperately WISH there were photos of that wedding because both of my grandparents and my mother were in attendance. Why oh why oh why could there not have been photos????
John Bucher marries Karen Heckaman
The next family wedding was my brother, John Bucher and his wife Karen Heckaman when they married on September 2, 1962. I was crushed because I desperately wanted to be flower girl and wasn’t invited to attend. Well, John, here’s to you.
I think this was the first and only suit my brother ever owned.
John’s wedding photo, above, includes the parents of the bride, at left, Karen and John, my mother in plaid, John’s father, Daniel Bucher and his wife, Betty. I think Mom and Dan were trying, as gracefully as possible, to ignore each other.
Both of my grandparents had passed away within the past couple years, barely missing a wedding I know they would very much have wanted to attend.
Several years later, I was married at home. You may notice that you can’t see mother’s left arm, hidden under mine. She had received third degree burns the day before on the toaster oven, but didn’t tell me until I arrived that day to get ready for the wedding. Her arm was bandaged at the hospital and she was taking pain medication. I had to help her dress. Poor Mom. Let’s just say she already wasn’t happy and this didn’t help the situation at all!
The best man, at far right, brother of the groom, wasn’t happy either, for a whole different set of reasons. Wedding drama extraordinaire!!! The memories of THAT day and the surrounding events would take a book and would have to be written as a novel because no one would believe it otherwise.
WWII interfered in my mother’s first marriage and sadly, Vietnam would interfere with mine.
Next, the generational tables were turned and it was mother who was getting married to my much-beloved step-father, Dean Long.
Karen and I are standing by Mom and Dean at the reception serving table in the basement of the church. No professional photography of course, but at least we had our own personal cameras and thankfully, a few of those photos still exist.
That day was eventful and memorable beyond anyone’s expectations. That dark blue dress I’m wearing is a maternity dress and I spent the morning and early afternoon at the hospital with false labor pains. In fact, the pains began at the hair dresser while Mom an I were getting our hair done, so she drove me to the hospital. No stress here!
As soon as the doctor told me he thought the pains were “probably” false labor, I got up off the gurney and told the staff I had to leave because my mother, who had driven me to the hospital and was in the waiting room, very nervously pacing back and forth, was getting married in a couple hours. There were several questioning and incredulous looks as I departed, but I was on my way out the door nonetheless.
I figured by that point that if the pains were real and not false, I had enough time to get through the wedding before I needed to get back to the hospital.
This picture makes me laugh, because it is reminiscent of “trimming the family.” No, I have NO idea what was trimmed out of this photo of Karen and me. There may have been water damage later when a tornado damaged the roof. I also don’t know who took this photo, but Mom was notorious for taking bad pictures – heads cut off, crooked – but at least she took them. And with all the various stressors that day, she can certainly be forgiven.
The Little Country Church
Let’s fast forward more than a decade to my second marriage which took place in a beautiful old-fashioned little church.
This time, we did have professional photography, a first in my family, BUT, the photographer’s camera malfunctioned and only photos taken before the ceremony survived.
This is my absolutely favorite photo of my step-father and one of my all-time favorite photos ever. He and I were devoted to each other and I could not have loved a father-of-blood more. His daughter, who was my age, died as an infant, on Christmas no less.
One day, this man of very few words walked past me sitting in his chair at the kitchen table on a hot summer day on the farm, thunked me gently on the head with his knuckle, a gesture of affection, and told me that when he married my mother, he got his daughter back. He just kept walking, like nothing had happened. The tears streamed down my face, because I felt so fatherless after my father died when I was 7 until Dean came into my life several years later. I was so very touched to know he felt the same way about me.
Of the pictures that survived the camera malfunction, we have only a few taken before the actual ceremony, but these alone were worth the price.
My daughter, as the flower girl, scattered petals in the aisle in advance of the bride. However, during the rehearsal, she scattered only a few petals, for practice, and then picked them up. During the actual wedding, she scattered all the petals in her basket, then scurried out in the aisleway to pick them up. My maid of honor quickly retrieved my daughter, who began to cry because she couldn’t pick up the flower petals and that was a VERY IMPORTANT part of her job! Ah, the memories of that sweet, sweet child.
Unfortunately, a decade later, the groom would have a massive stroke and another decade later, I would again remarry. Life seldom unfolds as planned.
The Winery Wedding
This wedding was outdoors at a lovely European-style winery on an island. My step-father was watching from the other side, but I know he was there. My children, now grown, stood up with me. My son and his wife, at left, with my brand-new granddaughter were able to attend. Mom, John and Karen were there, to the right of me in the photo, along with my daughter.
Now, John and Mom are both gone, so I’m very grateful for these family photos. Had my husband and I simply married at the courthouse, as we had discussed, there would have been no wedding celebration, and hence, no photos! That was our one and only 4 generation picture!
I love this photo too, of Mom walking me down the aisle. I’m not sure who was holding up whom!!! I was so happy that day to have my family gathered which hadn’t happened in many years and would never happen again.
My wonderful granddaughter, making her official debut at the wedding in a dress made by my daughter, matching hers.
Mom and I had a fantastic time together at the reception, held in a cooking school. The chef was also a comedian, but no one but my husband and I knew that in advance. Mom and I shared lots of laughs. I’m so glad, because she would be gone soon.
My matron of honor for the earlier church wedding made me this stunning quilt with signature squares from the attendees at the winery wedding.
A few years later, it would be my turn as the mother of the bride.
The Fifth Generation Bride
My beautiful (and smart and wonderful and charming, and did I mention smart) daughter married a few years ago on the hottest day of the summer. I cherish this photo and all the memories of that day we spent together. Our family-of-blood, which was limited to just the two of us, and family-of-heart gathered that day, and I don’t know what we would have done without them.
When family-of-blood is gone, family-of-heart becomes your family. The photo below, taken at the “preparatory party” just before my daughter’s wedding is of me, with my matron of honor who retrieved my daughter from petal gathering at the church wedding and made the quilt for my wedding at the winery two decades later. She and her husband, who had helped dress me as a bride, prepared lunch for the group before my daughter’s wedding. Some friends are forever. Thirty-five years and counting.
As photography has become ever more present in our lives, we now record not just the momentous events, but the fun parts that makes them more than just milestones.
Sometimes it’s the little things – like dressing the bride.
You know that saying about “it takes a village,” well, I’m telling you, it did. Without my quilt family and other close friends, we would have been lost that day. But more than help, this was a bonding experience for everyone involved.
What am I doing, you ask? I’m sewing my daughter into her dress. That’s a needle and thread in my hand. Never underestimate the power of a quilter!!! We will make anything work, one way or another.
In our family, each bride on her wedding day receives a handkerchief made or embellished by my great-grandmother, Nora Kirsch Lore. Nora and her mother, Barbara Drechsel were lacemakers and created beautiful lace handkerchiefs and collars.
In the photo above, as my daughter is dressing, I’ve opened the handkerchief that she will carry down the aisle with her flowers. Yes, Nora, and Edith and Mom were all with us that day, one way or another.
In fact, Mom left a special wedding gift for my daughter before she departed to join my step-Dad on the other side – her cherished Hummell Christmas ornaments. Just looking at this picture makes me cry. It made my daughter cry too. She’s smiling but you can see the tears in her eyes.
My wedding handkerchief, made by Nora or Barbara, given to me by mother, is framed for posterity.
Finally, the bride is assembled, with a little help from our friends. Yes, pieces-parts were gathered from near and far, and some assembly and reassembly was required. Instructions, however, were not included! Dressing the bride at home was a warm-hearted, very dear and memorable experience.
Here’s the “village” that it took, minus a few people that were somehow missing from the photo. It was a bit hectic that day.
The village included my quilt-sisters, below. The six of us had been though just about every curve-ball life could throw at us – together. Oh, and one quilt sister, at far right, is also a cousin, something we didn’t discover until after we met.
We had to eat, at some point, so lunch was buffet and the bride was not allowed to eat anything that might stain her dress. Somehow she managed to both eat AND stay clean. Family gatherings that include breaking bread nourish the body as well as the soul.
The “before the wedding” photography occurred outside, in my yard.
It took all of us to get that done, plus the photographer, another long-time friend aka family-of-heart who had videoed my outside wedding, including the bee who buzzed me as the vows were being exchanged. Tiny detail – I’m terrified of bees, especially tangled in my hair. No, I did not run backwards down the aisle. Being late to my own wedding had been bad enough. However, that video is pretty comical because you can’t tell that it’s a bee I’m swatting at. I somewhat resemble Ninja bride – and then there’s the laughing. My poor mother was mortified, again.
My friend’s photography turned out exceptionally well, as you can see – and my daughter had no bee visitors, thankfully.
While these photos look beautiful and elegant, there was an incredible amount of fussing to make them perfect. Five women sweating and fussing with a bridal gown is quite a sight. I’ve omitted those photos. I still have to face the quilt sisters.😊
All I can say is God bless my quilt sisters. We’ve been such an integral part of each other’s lives for so many years, decades, now. We’ve watched our children be born, grow up and marry, and in many cases, participated in the events in a very much hands-on fashion. We spend Christmas Eve together, some holidays and birthdays and even a 50th anniversary. We are truly family. My daughter grew up with several “aunts.” There are even stories about that too. Obvious to us, but not to others – we had people wondering how my daughter’s aunts could originally be from so many different states!
Next, it was time to get the bride into the van to go to the wedding. We all had a good laugh. I’m also omitting those photos, on pain of death if I include them. I also have to face my daughter.😊
First, a quick stop on the front porch for a picture with the groom.
No custom in this family of the groom not seeing the bride ahead of time on the wedding day. The poor groom was actually ill, and not just nerves, but he did a fine job of getting through the day with few people knowing how poorly he felt. They had to find a doctor during the honeymoon. Yes, he took a lot of ribbing for that!
Carrying on the step-father tradition, my husband escorted my daughter down the aisle. I’m not sure who was more nervous. Can you tell that he dotes on her? The picture below reminds me of the photo at my wedding with me and my step-father.
After the actual wedding ceremony is finished, the fun begins. These are the aspects that the wedding date in a genealogy software program can never convey. Traditional wedding photography doesn’t catch this either, but for family bonding and stories, the reception is often the best part. The “big event” is over and everyone lets their hair down.
For example, when the groom’s grandmother, in purple above, in front of the groom, led the family in the chicken dance. You go grandma!!! Thank goodness for these photos and great times, because she is now departed too.
The person who made the cakes clearly had a sense of humor!
And speaking of humor, there was the lobster…
It’s called payback, karma perhaps – something unique from the “rents” as my daughter used to call her parents. Yes, indeed, a lobster showed up uninvited at the wedding, all decked out. That’s me and my husband waving at my daughter, one of those “special moments” reflective of the past that one can only fear resurfacing. Never mess with the “rents.” They love you, but they will get you just the same!
Rumor has it that the lobster greeted them that evening at their honeymoon location too. But of course, that’s just a rumor and I know absolutely NOTHING about it. Funny though that no one has seen hide nor claw of the lobster since.
If you want to know the story of the lobster, let’s just say that you’ll have to ask my daughter, or maybe wait until the next wedding or family gathering when someone, I’m sure, will be more than happy to spill the beans. After all, that’s what family gatherings are for, right?
Thank goodness for cameras, weddings, mothers and families, of blood and of heart – with a lobster thrown in for good measure!!!
Happy Mother’s Day!