From wedding garments worn by Black Swamp pioneers to a bridal creation just a quarter century old, the Oregon-Jerusalem Township Historical Society has assembled about 25 wedding dresses that represent more than 100 years of area history.
The oldest bridal ensemble, from an 1873 wedding, is a brown two-piece outfit with fringe and a train. The piece is on temporary loan to the historical society for teas next week. The ensemble is so delicate and small a 13-year-old girl is going to model it at the sold-out teas at Brandville School in Oregon, said Connie Isbell, president of the Oregon-Jerusalem Township Historical Society.
Eighteen of the dresses will be modeled by volunteers from John Casablancas Modeling in Toledo for the teas, while the others will be on mannequins. A 1928 coral flapper-style bridal gown worn by the late Mildred Welling to the late Elmer Shroeder, for example, is too delicate to wear, Ms. Isbell said.
"That was the height of the flapper area," Ms. Isbell said.
Betty Metz, tea co-chairman and historical society trustee, said she encourages people to write down details of weddings and other occasions so they and their offspring later can reflect on such important events.
"All of these wedding dresses have a story," Ms. Metz said. "We don't think that it's going to be important, but it is."
Using wedding gowns from the society's collection and on loan, every decade between 1905 and 1984 is represented in the group. All are from Black Swamp area weddings.
Some of the wedding gowns are accompanied by original veils, petticoats, and other items. Photos of some of the brides have been assembled by the historical society.
Ms. Isbell's favorite bridal gown and romantic story is from a 1943 World War II wedding, when the late Helen Rose married her childhood sweetheart, Delbert Schaab of Oregon. She had been a "Rosie the Riveter" at Willys-Overland Motor Co. in Toledo, while Mr. Schaab was in the Army Air Corps and able to delay his war-time departure so they could marry as planned.
Another gown was made without a pattern by the late Rikka Niehouse, whose granddaughter, Carol Niehouse, saw a picture in The Blade of a dress she wanted for her 1948 wedding to the late Robert Tank. Netting used in the dress was from her great grandmother's wedding gown, and even all the ruffles on the petticoat for Mrs. Tank's bridal outfit were hand done, Ms. Isbell said.
The society's next tea will be Sept. 22. A theme has not yet been selected.