I recently happened across this fascinating write-up of the 1924 wedding between my third great uncle, Joseph Christopher Turner (son of Rev. John H. and Mrs. Bettie Turner) and Mary Benjamin Seals (granddaughter of Jabez B. Chummuck).
According to the article, this was a huge event with nearly three hundred guests at the reception alone. There was an orchestra and choir, dresses of crepe de chine and a church altar banked with fresh cut flowers. This news item is laden with great details.
The Genealogy Situation Room is all about the deep-dive, gleaning even more facts from the stated ones. In that spirit, let’s find out how many more genealogical gems we can extract from this historical newspaper item, which is a treasure in and of itself.
Who: The groom, Joseph Christopher Turner (1898-1969), was a son of Baptist minister and missionary Rev. John H. Turner (b. abt. 1854) and his wife, the former Bettie Grace Johnson (1871-bef.1929). The bride, Mary Benjamin Seals (b.1903), was a daughter of Benjamin Seals (1878-1909) who passed away when Mary was about six years old. Mary appears to have been raised by her paternal grandmother, Mary A. Henton Seals Chummuck (1853-1928) and Mary A.’s second husband, Jabez B. Chummuck (1859-1935). Jabez B. Chummuck, whose intriguing obituary is listed below, walked Mary down the aisle and gave her for marriage.
What: It seems that “spared no expense” was a reality for this wedding and there was even an orchestra at the reception, per the news report. The official Fall River Symphony Orchestra website documents the organization as being founded in 1925: “The Fall River Orchestral Club was founded in 1925 by a group of fifteen players who wanted the opportunity to play orchestral music.” In that regard, it’s not clear who the actual orchestra members were for the wedding reception party were, though Fall River was clearly noted.
More details appeared as the article displayed the delightful intricacies of the wedding décor and ladies’ attire.
When: On Saturday October 18, 1924, Calvin Coolidge was president of the United States and something that cost you $20 back then would cost $329.23 in 2021 U.S. dollars, per Westegg’s Inflation Calculator. There was also lots of football buzz about the Notre Dame and Army match that introduced the “Four Horsemen,” who helped Notre Dame to its first ever national championship. I wonder how many sporting folk wedding guests won or lost money on that game.
Where: Both the wedding and reception were held in the historic location of Plymouth, Massachusetts, site of the Mayflower landing. The venues were as follows:
While the particulars of the groomsmen are seemingly limited to their names, I was able to gather more about them. The best man, Clyde W. Hawk (1892-1927), was actually the groom’s brother-in-law. The matron of honor and wife of the best man was the groom’s sister, Annie Isabelle Turner Hawk (1896-1960). So it just so happens that this article provided the full name of Annie’s husband, who I had previously only seen listed in records by the surname Hawk.
In an amazing twist and example of this being a small world, I discovered one of the ushers, Frank Fatio, in the 1910 U.S. Census as a lodger in the Boston household of a certain Cora Gordon. Frank Fatio was there along with one of my North Carolina Manuel/Brewington cousins, Isaac Manuel! That record definitely bears further looking into.
What happened to the blushing bride and dashing groom of this news item? The records indicate that they had at least two children, a son and daughter. Perhaps we’ll learn more about them as the journey to learn more about the Turner family continues.
In that vein, do seek out and pore over the historical newspaper articles relating to your family events and milestones. There’s always something that can be learned, go beyond the presented facts. You just may break a genealogical brick wall.
In any case, happy search and find! Thank you for taking the time to stop by and consider our situation.
The Genealogy Situation Room