Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wedding Déjà vu? Sort of....

Among the photographic heirlooms passed down from my Great Grandmother Nellie Cox Beyersdoerfer is this wedding portrait of my Great Great Aunt, Ada Beyersdoerfer Mueller. The first time I opened its folded enclosure I giggled - a lot. Despite the beautiful details in the photo's clarity, that veil looks like a lace monster that completely swallowed her head!

Beyond the giggle factor, I really do love this photo for its family historic purpose and beauty. As a farming family of little wealth, this formal portrait is the only one we have from the Beyersdoerfer side. Despite the birth of many girls, I haven't seen any other wedding portraits. (For those of you keeping track, Ada was Anna's sister from the Looking at Anna post)

As a special treat, a few years ago as I was studying the photo closer, I looked behind it, and found the wedding invitation perfectly preserved behind the happy couple!

The invitation reads:
Mr. and Mrs. John Beyersdoerfer request the honor of your presence at the marriage of their daughter Ada to Mr. Henry E. Mueller. Wednesday, the Twenty-seventh of September, nineteen hundred and twenty-two at eight o'clock A.M. St. Boniface Church, Northside, Cincinnati, O.

I grew up in Cincinnati, over on the west side, well above Northside geographically, but travelled through that city often on my backroads way to the University of Cincinnati as a college student. I had never seen this church from the main road down the center of town, but it was always on my radar to hunt down someday. When our family moved to Kentucky about 15 years ago, I still had this church on my to-do list, but it was far down the list, and I honestly doubted if I would ever get around to it.....until....

One of my younger cousins on my Dad's side of the family, still in Cincinnati, chose this same church as his wedding site just a few weeks ago. When I read where the wedding was to take place, I was thrilled! For the privacy of the living, I will not name names, but I will include some photos from my attendance....it turned out to be a stunningly beautiful church inside!! To attend the wedding of a cousin from Dad's side, while trying to imagine the 1922 wedding of an aunt from my Mom's side.....quite the Déjà vu moment!

Ok, that's sort of how it happened.....here's a tip....make sure you research places BEFORE you attend the events! I was wallowing in that family history moment, "documenting" the past and present with loads of photos. The photos were of course valuable for documenting the current family event, but after returning home, I remembered a conversation my Mother and I had while I was snapping photos outside.....we both thought the building didn't look too old....perhaps turn of the 20th century, but no older. So a quick Google search brought me to the official church website.

Turns out, the congregation dates back to 1853, but after several buildings, the current building dates from 1927. Ironically, my Mueller relatives got married the year after the congregation purchased this land in 1921 on the corner of Chase and Pitts Avenues, but they must have held their ceremony at the former building at the corners of Blue Rock and Lakerman Sts since this newer building was not yet constructed. Which means, I still need to go traipsing through Northside again to see if that older building still exists, so it returns to my to-do list.

As a post script of sorts, I was reading the church's official history, and it turned out to be more significant than I realized. Apparently, the first congregation was begun to accommodate the influx of Irish immigrants that were filling the surrounding Cincinnati areas very quickly. When the influx of German Catholics rapidly rose to match the numbers of local Irish Catholics, the congregation decided to split - ethnically. The Irish congregants split off to form St. Patricks and the Germans stayed to maintain St. Boniface. Which, of course, fits my German lineage on Mom's side.....the Mueller/Beyersdoerfer clan was part of the German half that kept St. Boniface. Ironically, the two halves that split reunited in 1991 under the St. Boniface parish due to dwindling numbers in both groups. That link above to the history of St. Boniface has a great slide show from the early days at the bottom of the page.

So, without further ado, here are some photos of the current St. Boniface church built in 1927:

CD
11/20/10

8 comments:

imagespast said...

What a coincidence with the two weddings, and what a lovely Church it is. I'm surprised at the 8am time of the wedding - seems rather early!

Cheri Daniels said...

Ha ha, you just reminded me of the weird conversation I had with Mom when I confirmed to her that it was the "same" church as the invitation: "It IS St. Boniface!, and it was in 1922! and it was on a WEDNESDAY, ick...and at 8:00AM??!!" Yeah, I'm glad we abandoned that wedding tradition over the years!

Christine H. said...

8 AM! Wow, the bride was probably hoping she could get some shut eye under that lace. I guess that leaves the rest of the day open, but I would have trouble feeling very festive )or drinking champagne) at that hour.

Pat transplanted to MN said...

Really resembles some unidentified wedding photos that I have. The type of "hat" holding the veil, etc. The current photos of the church are lovley too, showing it as timeless.

Martin H. said...

Such a precious photograph to have. Although, the bride looks a little out of her comfort zone.

Alan Burnett said...

What a delightfully informative post -the very essence of what Sepia Saturday is all about. There is something very fetching and sweet about that wedding photograph.

Nancy said...

Don't you love it when a photo (and what's stuck behind it in the frame) lead you along to more discoveries! I don't know how old you were when you first saw the bride's "hat" but if I were under about 15, I can imagine lots of laughter. It's a great photograph, though.

Cheri Daniels said...

Nancy, just around 15 would be a great guess as I started really digging into my family history about that time...poor thing still makes me giggle a little...and thanks Alan! That's an honor coming from Mr. Sepia Saturday himself!

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