Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Naperville Weddings in History

June has long been the traditional month for weddings because the goddess Juno was thought to take especial care of women who married during her namesake month.

Naperville has certainly had it’s share of weddings, but sometimes tradition was the last thing on the bride’s mind.

Harriet Warren Dodson settled in the area with her parents in 1833, not long after Joseph Naper. Originally they lived on the south side of I-88 before founding the town of Warrenville. One of her first social events here was a non-traditional wedding, as related in her book The Warrens of Warrenville:

“The wedding was on Sunday and our conveyance a cart drawn by oxen ...driving up to the tavern door, the residence of the hospitable Capt. Joseph Naper, and such a wedding!

“The bride was actually scrubbing the floor of the only room in the house where she was to stand when the ceremony was to be performed…

“The bride made her appearance in a dress of the common veiling material, a kind of cinnamon brown. She was a sensible looking woman about thirty or thirty-five years of age. Her intended also looked about that age or a little older, an affair of little romance surely, but sensible, I should judge, as I look back upon it now.”

Another unconventional bride was Hannah Ditzler Alspaugh who was born in 1848. She taught for ten years at Naper Academy and was the first librarian at the original Nichols Library. Hannah didn’t marry until late in life when she wed John Alspaugh, a widower who was also her first cousin.

Today the law allows cousins to marry if they are over are 50, but in 1905, Hannah and John were actually wed illegally, despite their ages.

The Martin-Mitchell Mansion at Naper Settlement is named for
Caroline who bequeathed it to our city. The Martins were of Scottish descent and frequented local “Highland” picnics. It’s thought that while at one of these events, Caroline met and fell in love with Edward Mitchell of Hinsdale.

Caroline apparently grew tired of waiting for permission to marry and at the age of 31, eloped with Edward to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Eventually the couple made peace with her family and held a second wedding, complete with a  traditional formal announcement, at the mansion in 1896, nearly six months after their elopement.

It’s interesting to know that our forebears were not as hidebound by tradition as one would think!