1803 New Market wedding re-enacted – Hillsboro Times Gazette

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A wedding re-enactment from 1803 played out Saturday before the Highland County Historical Society opened its new bridal exhibit at the Highland House Museum in Hillsboro.

The museum exhibit features at least 41 wedding gowns dating back possibly 200 or more years ago to 1969, as well as photos, a corsage from a 1945 wedding, gift book lists, marriage certificates and more. The display will be open from 1-4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays at the museum through July 27. Groups wanting to tour the museum at other times can call Vicki Knauff, the museum director, at 937-393-3392.

Words spoken at the wedding Saturday came directly from “A History of the Early Settlement of Highland County, Ohio” by Daniel Scott, first published in 1890. The book contains the words spoken by squire Oliver Ross, portrayed by Bob Brown, at the wedding of Michael Stroup and Polly Walker, portrayed by Jeff Beery and Tara Beery, in New Market in 1803.

That was about two years before Highland County was established on May 1, 1805.

Following is the transcript from the wedding:

“Well, we have met today to join together in holy matrimony Michael Stroup and Polly Walker — as respectable a couple as ever the Lord brought together. Now, I do hope that not one of you will have any objection to their getting married. I think there will no objection. Join your right hands.

“Well, Mr. Mike, will you take Miss Polly, whom you hold by the right hand — and as good looking and as virtuous a young woman as ever the Virgin Mary was — to be your lawfully wedded wife? Do you promise that you forsake all other girls (now by the Lord, Mike, you must quit running after the other girls and cleave to her alone) will ya Mike?

“Yes, yes.

“Oh, by God yes.

“Well, Miss Polly, will you take Mike, who you hold by the right hand, to be your lawfully wedded husband (he is worthy, for he is as sprightly a young man as ever wore a pair of buckskin brokins) you promise to forsake all others (but what the devil’s the use to make a woman promise that when we know they won’t keep their promise, but I think you are an exception) you will cleave to him til it please the good Lord to separate you by death, will you Polly?

“I know you will — yes — then I pronounce you man and wife, no more two but one. The Lord bless you. Now go home and raise your children for the Lord. The Lord bless you.”

Kathy Levo, a historical society member who helped organize the bridal exhibit, said she had a sister-in-law that had always been intrigued with weddings and collected a roomful of wedding memorabilia. The sister-in-law wanted to downsize several years ago and gave Levo a box of wedding items, thinking the historical society might be able to do something with them.

When Levo and Lana Dukes and Sandy Ford were putting some things away from the museum’s Christmas exhibit last year, they got to talking about the wedding items, and the bridal exhibit was born.

“It’s an odd collection of different things, but it has a thread through it,” Levo said. “Every wedding dress has a story.”

She said one of the dresses in the display comes from the Evans family and was at least 140 years old when it was donated to the historical society in 1967. She said it could not have been made locally because it has machine stitching and is too ornate.

The most recent wedding dress came from the wedding in 1969 of Vicky and Earl Smith.

Levo said some of the dresses were donated to the historical society, some came with no information, and one was sent by one of her family members by Federal Express from Wisconsin. Some of them are on loan from the Lynchburg and Greenfield historical societies.

One of the other items on display is a double wedding ring quilt that Levo said took three years, 1883-1886, to make.

After the Highland County Historical Society purchased what is now called the Hodson House next to the museum several months ago, Levo said lots of the things were moved out of the museum into the Hodson House. That has made more room for exhibits at the museum. The bridal event is the first exhibit at the museum since a Colony theatre exhibit six years ago.

Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.

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