Saturday, April 14, 2012

See these antique dresses from my family

After searching for about twenty years, I finally located my grandmother's wedding dress and my aunt's graduation dress, both hand-sewn and embroidered.  I had come to believe that the box they were in must have blown off the truck when we were moving to our new house in February 1993.  They were finally discovered in the bottom of an old trunk in the garage.

 Slip worn under graduation dress

 Detail on bodice of slip

 Lacy hymn on bottom tier of slip

 Top of wedding dress

 Ruffed border and hem of wedding dress

 Full view of top and skirt of wedding dress

 Top with detail of sleeves on wedding dress

One of two side panels on skirt of graduation dress 

Bodice and sleeves of graduation dress

 Skirt of graduation dress with sign panels
 Full view of graduation dress

 Hand embroidered sleeve of graduation dress

Detail of embroidery on bodice of graduation dress

The wedding dress belonged to my maternal grandmother Josephine Pauline Bickert who married Herbert Sanborn Chiles on 5 July 1903. It's almost one hundred and eight years old.  They were married in a horse-drawn buggy in a driving rainstorm in the town of Lehigh, Blount County, Alabama.  This was Herbert's second marriage, fourteen months after his first wife Blanche McCord died on 10 Apr 1902 as the result of choking when vomiting in pregnancy while home alone.  Blanche and Josephine were close friends.

The graduation dress belonged to my maiden aunt, Bessie Katie Eugenia Chiles, born 22 Apr 1904. She was named for her aunt, Katherine Amelia Bickert ("Aunt Kate") and Eugenia Martinier (Sanborn) Chiles, her grandmother. Bessie never married, and taught algebra and Spanish at Hillsborough High School in Tampa, Florida for many years.

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