Turn-of-the-Century Wedding

Was there, I wonder, a big to-do about the “turn-of-the-century” something like our own millenium celebration ten years ago? What was happening about as 1899 was about to turn to 1900? Here are few notables from that era:

  • The USA had 8,000 cars – and 10 miles of paved roads!
  • In the next decade there would be 76 million Americans.
  • The average worker was paid $12.98 a week ((for 59 hours).
  • Female life expectaancy was 47.3 years, male 46.3.
  • John Valler, a Norwegian, invented the paper clip (June 27, 1899).
  • And…on October 17, 1899, Gina Estensen married Emil Borresen. 

Emil Borresen - Gina Estensen Wedding

Here’s their wedding photo, taken by O. Rogan of nearby Whitehall, Wisconsin. I don’t know any more about Rogan than the Whitehall village president appointed him to a committee to consider a free library in March 1899. The committee must have been effective: on September 14, six months later, a new library was dedicated. (History of Tremp. County, Wis., Ch. 11)

Emil and Gina both grew up in Fitch Coulee. I suppose they went to Rogan’s studio for their photograph; that seemed to be the way of the times. It would be interesting to know something of the style of her wedding dress – the color, the absence of a train, and a very long veil. I had never noticed this before, but Gina seems as tall as Emil. By the time I came to know her, I suppose the years had lowered her an inch or two.

October 17. If I looked this up correctly, their wedding day was a Tuesday. A weekday wedding wasn’t unusual – and very likely it took place at the parsonage. Their pastor was Emanuel Christophersen who emigrated from Norway in 1876. He became pastor of Pigeon Creek Lutheran Church the same year and remained there until his death in 1909. (More on this later.)

Pastor Emanuel Christophersen

The photo section of Homestead shows Emil and Gina on their 40th anniversary (1939) with Eddie Matson as “best man” and Louise Thorpen as “bridesmaid.” Were there others in the wedding? How was the wedding celebrated? Does anyone know? Then it was probably back to the hard work of farming very quickly. As Clara notes (Homestead, 34), “they moved in with his parents on their farm, all living and working together.”

P.S. I’ll wager Emil and Gina didn’t notice or much care about their old countryman’s invention of the paper clip (above) in 1899!

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2 Responses to Turn-of-the-Century Wedding

  1. Glenn Borreson says:

    Our cousin Albert added this about the wedding photo, “What I heard from mother [Clara] was the dress was blue (light blue) much like sea blue but without the green in sea blue. It is true, grandpa was several inches shorter then grandma.”

  2. Sue Ann Okerwall Knoblauch says:

    That is such a great picture. They are my great grandfather and great grandmother. Now another interesting thing is that my husband has a picture of his great grandfather and great grandmother’s wedding picture around 1900 from Buffalo New York and they were German, BUT, still that same pose… That must have been the fad or the instructions photographers had to sit the groom and have the bride stand?

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