The Wedding Dress

I wasn’t expecting it – not its existence and not my reaction. This was my second trip to Walkersville, Maryland, a little over an hour away, to visit Nancy. I’m her second cousin once removed. She shared many treasures in March and promised anoth…

I wasn’t expecting it  – not its existence and not my reaction.

This was my second trip to Walkersville, Maryland, a little over an hour away, to visit Nancy.  I’m her second cousin once removed.  She shared many treasures in March and promised another trip to the attic before my return.  Which was today.

I won’t write (now) about the four carte-de-visite albums she brought downstairs, which, alone, were more than enough to send me into genealogical euphoria.

Today, it’s about the dress – the dress that my 2nd great grandmother, Mary Ann White, wore at her 1849 wedding to James Howard Offutt.  When I realized what I was looking at, I did what any self-respecting, middle-aged, family-history-oriented woman would do.  I cried.  And tried to function, take pictures and absorb it – all at the same time.

The dress was worn in March of 1849 – before 1850, when, thanks to the federal census, individuals in families started taking on personal identities. 1849 – well before the Civil War!  Mary Ann White, aged almost 30, wore this dress when she married a 46-year-old man who had four living children  – and three children who had died young. I know Mary Ann White from her cemetery marker and from her obituary.  Knowing her dress is a completely different thing.

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It was irisdescent purple shot through with gold.  I held it up to my shoulders and noted that Mary Ann and I were roughly the same height – at least in flats. It has three-quarter sleeves,  a v-shaped bodice (neck and waist) and a tightly gathered skirt.

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The hand stitching was very fine.

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It has industrial-quality snaps on the sleeves and in the back.

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It also has a matching fringed cape that was cut and stitched so that it hung beautifully.

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I only know that because I had to try it on.

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OK, I wouldn’t have worn a blue shirt today if I had known this was coming…….but that was part of the beauty of the day.

I wasn’t expecting it  – not its existence and not my reaction.

1 thought on “The Wedding Dress”

  1. Unbelievable! I;m so thrilled you found this and I cried reading the article! Iridescent purple and gold…so pretty and I’m glad you’re bringing an archival box back on your next visit.

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