Weddings – Yesterday & Today by Suzanne Lees & Karen Hansen


As you know, weddings have changed a lot over the years. They have changed by the way they were planned, the number of people attending the wedding, where they took place, and even the color of the wedding dress.

Many weddings took place in a church. Some were married in their homes, while others were married in front of the local Justice of the Peace and others eloped.

One example of a home wedding, taken from our file of weddings, is the following: “On January 24th, 1912, Miss Dora M. Hennings and Mr. Julius Hansen had a quiet home wedding at the home of the bride’s brother-in-law and sister, Mr. and Mrs. John Jave. Rev. Albert Dittmann tied the nuptial knot, which united the lives of these estimable young people of our community. Just as the clock chimed four, the young couple took their places in the parlor under a beautiful white bell where the minister with an impressive yet simple and exceedingly pretty ring ceremony made them husband and wife. The wedding was a quiet one witnessed by only the immediate relatives of the bride and groom and a few intimate friends. The bride was becomingly attired in light blue messaline and carried a bouquet of bride’s roses. The groom wore the conventional black. After congratulations the bridal party repaired to the dining room where a bounteous and delicious wedding dinner was served. The table, fairly groaning beneath its weight of rich viands, fully sustained Mrs. Jave’s reputation in the culinary art. The many friends of the bride and groom wish them a long, pleasant and prosperous married life. After March 1st they will be at home to their friends on a farm northeast of town.” (The Walnut Bureau, January 26, 1912)


“While attending the State Fair at Des Moines, Edwin Drake and Miss Selma Johnson slipped away from friends and relatives and were quietly married by Rev. Orien Fifer of the Grace M. E. Church. The bride is the only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. M. Johnson of Lincoln Township, having moved there from Stuart, Iowa with her parents two years ago. The groom is the third son of Mr. and Mrs. Z. D. Drake and has grown to manhood in this community.” (The Walnut Bureau, September 8, 1911)



On Wednesday August 4th, a surprise was sprung on relatives and friends of a Walnut couple when Mr. George I. Drake was united in marriage to Miss Dora V. Petersen at the Methodist parsonage in Atlantic, Rev. F. W. Simpson performing the ceremony. They were accompanied by the groom’s sister, Mrs. Ray Staman.

The bride is an attractive daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Chris Petersen of Buchanan, Michigan, and for the present year has been making her home with her brothers, seven miles northeast of Walnut. During her residence in our community she has, by her charming ways and pleasing personality, made many friends.

The groom is the youngest son of Mr. Z. D. Drake. He is an industrious farmer who has grown to manhood in our midst, is highly respected by all who know him, and is in every way worthy of the bride he has won.

Their many friends unite in wishing Mr. and Mrs. Drake a long and happy wedded life. (The Walnut Bureau, August 12, 1920) George and Dora Drake were the parents of WGS members Esther Loewenstein and Mabel Buboltz. According to Mabel, her father bought the wedding dress for her mother, so that she would have a new dress to wear for the wedding.


“Mr. Arthur D. Mertz and Miss Marjorie I. Drake, surprised their friends when they drove to Avoca, Wednesday, June 7th and were quietly married by Rev. W. B. Augur at the Presbyterian parsonage at 10:30 o’clock.

Clara Drake, sister of the bride, acted as bridesmaid, and Chester Mertz, brother of the groom, acted as best man and accompanied them.

Mr. and Mrs. Mertz will be at home after June 25th on the H. D. Wehland farm five miles southwest of Walnut.” (The Walnut Bureau, June 9, 1911)

It seems that the bride and groom were always the greatest people. “Last Wednesday the marriage rites of Herman Stahl and Miss Charlotte Grapengretter, were performed by ‘Squire J. B. Johannsen. Mr. Stahl is an exemplary young man, industrious, frugal, and his many friends in this vicinity can but hope his choice has been one, which, in oncoming years will prove a blessing. Mrs. Stahl but recently made the trip from Oldenburg, Germany, alone, which proves her no fairy-minded woman, and it is to be hoped her fond anticipations of America, its pleasures, may be realized.” (The Walnut Bureau, July 19, 1883)

The information the papers printed about the wedding has certainly changed. At one time the very detailed description of the wedding even included the gifts given and the giver. For example: “At the request of friends of the parties, we give a list of the presents in the Ray-Brown wedding, which occurred two or three weeks ago: Ring, groom to bride; $10 gold piece and family bible, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Brown; pair towels, Mr. and Mrs. Drake; pair towels and half a dozen napkins, Mr. and Mrs. Wiker; a tidy, Mary Drake; $5 Jas. S. Smith; tablecloth, Richard and Anna Robshaw; pair napkin rings, Aggie Smith; volume poem, —–; paper holder, Thos. Gladstone; pickle fork and sugar shell, J.H. Passmore; pickle caster, Mr. and Mrs. J.L. Smith; one half dozen napkins, Lizzie Askem; half a dozen egg goblets, A.H. Floyd; bedspread, Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Foster; butter knife, Chas. Cheesobro; silver caster, Kate Brown; bedspread, Mr. and Mrs. Lilly; silver caster, Mr. and Mrs. Lock Smith; china set, Libbie and Eddie Brown; silver spoon holder, Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Baxter; butter knife, S.E. Wales; sugar shell, Eddie J. Smith; set tumblers, Chas. Passmore; brush, comb and glass, Mr. and Mrs. Shannon; pair vases, Mr. and Mrs. Wales; lamp, N. Ball; washtub, Mr. and Mrs. Detwiler; clothesline and pins, Floyd and Sherman Detwiler; butter knife, Willie Brown; set cane chairs, Mr. and Mrs. A. Pritchard; set silver teaspoons, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Curtis; cake stand, Mr. and Mrs. Deer; vegetable dish and set of dishes, Mr. and Mrs. Crow; large album and $5 gold piece, Mr. and Mrs. Ray; one dozen individual salt dishes, Cora and Grant Ray; couch, Miss Ella Brown” (The Walnut Bureau, February 23, 1883)

Interesting accounts are given in the following articles. Walnut’s Methodist minister, “Rev. D. C. Worts took unto himself a rib about two weeks ago. He has been a constant reader of the News, and has seen by its teachings that it is not good for man to stand around all the time alone. It’s agin nature. The above item is a little old, but the blame is not on our back steps, and perhaps is not at the Reverend’s either, but he did not tell us about it as he used to about marriages. Well, we will excuse him, he is a trifle modest.” (The Walnut News, December 12, 1878)

“Mr. Nels Mattson and Miss Anna Deier, of Jackson township were welded together December 28th, in the bonds of matrimony. A. C. Ray was the blacksmith. The squire gets a good weld.” (The Walnut News, January 6, 1882, p. 3)

The following reports a rowdy shivaree: “The boys down south of town, seven or eight miles, are having a gay time this winter, serenading their newly married acquaintances. Last week Tuesday, Link Foster was married to a Miss Reed, and 40 of the boys got up an impromptu celebration on his behalf. Then last Friday night, Henry Cisne came back from Fort Dodge, where he and Miss Ella Craft were married, and 37 of his friends went over with shotguns, cow-bells, horns, plowshares (which when struck with a hammer make a noise as loud as a meeting house bell), and made so much noise that the superambient air quivered in agony and Cisne got so bewildered that when he called the boys in to give them an introduction to his wife he could not think of half the names of his old acquaintances.

The boys say they expect to hold another open air concert this week, or next, as they saw a young [man]setting up a stove in his house the other day, and they immediately called a secret meeting and ordered the musical director to procure 27 cow-bells, 12 tin horns, and seven old plowshares, besides 40 muskets and 100 pounds of blasting powder, with four bundles of baled hay for wadding. The ammunition was purchased and charged up to the prospective bridegroom.” (The Walnut Bureau, March 23, 1883)

This is a honeymoon? “Oscar Campbell and Miss Nellie Middough, a young couple well known in this vicinity, were married in Avoca last week, and the bride took the train for Cambridge, Ill., to visit relatives. Oscar is spending his honey-moon in the harvest field. We wish the happy pair a pleasant life-voyage.” (The Walnut Bureau, July 26, 1883)

Some wedding articles listed names of guests. “A pretty home wedding occurred Wednesday, December 13th, at 4 o’clock P. M. at the home of the bride’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jergen Koos, in Layton township, when their daughter, Chathrina, was united in marriage to Mr. Otto H. Arnold, son of Mr. and Mrs. Matt Arnold of Denison, Iowa. Rev. Albert Dittmann of Shelby officiating.

Miss Bertha Arnold, sister of the groom, and Mr. Henry Koos, brother of the bride attended the happy couple as they entered the parlor to the strains of the wedding march played by Miss Anna Koos.

The bride was beautifully gowned in white batiste, the groom wearing the customary black.

The bride and groom were abundantly remembered by their host of friends with choice and useful gifts.

Immediately after the ceremony congratulations and best wishes were showered on the young couple, after which the guests were ushered into the dining room where a bounteous wedding dinner was served.

Those from different town attending the wedding were Mr. and Mrs. Peter Paasch of Fremont, Nebr., Mr. and Mrs. Peter Boeck of Charter Oak, Iowa, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Hansen of Danbury, Iowa, Mr. and Mrs. Gustav Arnold and family, Mrs. Robert Bauer, and Mr. and Mrs. Matt Arnold and daughter, Eugenia, all of Denison, Iowa.” (The Walnut Bureau, December 1911)

Whether they “got hitched”, “tied the knot”, or “took the plunge” all were wished the very best for a long and prosperous married life.