Museum curator, Ashley Webb, is back to talk about another one of the fabulous dresses included in the exhibition ‘Happily Ever After.’ Make sure to read up on last week’s 1858 dress if you missed that! Today’s dress: a simple World War I era outfit.
The year 1918 saw an upheaval of social, political, and economic change. The Great War came to an armistice in November of 1918, only a year after the U.S. officially entered the war. Tsar Nicholas II and his family of Russia were executed, furthering the Bolshevik Revolution while propagating a civil war between czarists and revolutionaries, collapsing the government and installing the communist USSR. The Spanish influenza pandemic raged throughout Europe, killing more than 50 million people around the world. Women in the US took on more responsibilities in the workplace, being employed in factories, working as secretaries, even acting as bus drivers since many of the younger men were drafted for the war. In the UK, women continued to fight for the right to vote, successfully moving toward women’s suffrage. The war, along with the social and economic changes throughout the world, pushed the US toward the excess of capitalism, commerce, and wealth associated with the 1920s.
With the start of the war in 1914, Woodrow Wilson, 28th president of the United States, kept the US neutral for as long as possible. The US draft in 1917 called for all men between the ages of 21 and 30 to enlist, but this was soon expanded in August of 1918 to include men between the ages of 18-45. With the draft, marriages were often simple affairs, just as marriages were during World War II.
The marriage of Lt. Lewis Franklin Moore and Mary Katherine Stone was no different. Moore, a class of 1911 alum of Virginia Military Institute and an assistant engineer to T.A. Gillespie in Boston, Massachusetts, was enlisted into the 73rd Coast Artillery Corps during the first wave of the draft on June 5, 1917. Born in Selma, Alabama, in 1891, and living in Boston in 1917, it’s unclear exactly how he met his future bride, Mary Katherine Stone, but the wedding was a simple affair – announced only a few days prior to the wedding.
The History Museum is lucky enough to exhibit an image of the happy couple on the evening of the wedding, courtesy of the family. The photograph is absolutely stunning. Married on August 23, 1918, the image shows Lt. Franklin and Mrs. Moore standing outside Mary’s parents’ home on Mountain Avenue. Taken at night, the photographer used several lights and flashes to illuminate the couple- the far left side is completely dark, suggesting that the lights were set up to the couple’s left.
Lt. Moore wears his artillery uniform, and the simple, elegant dress of Mary’s reflects the hasty decision to wed prior to Lt. Moore’s deployment in September. From the photograph, it is immediately apparent that the gauzy point d’esprit dress with overlays of satin was not the most elaborate part of the wedding.
Perhaps because of the quick decision to marry, Ms. Stone may have not been the biggest fan of her dress and chose to supplement it with an extravagant bouquet of roses and swainsona, immediately drawing the eye from the dress to the array of flowers. The pendant style satin overlay at the waist adds character and an additional depth from the gauzy, tulle like point d’esprit fabric.
Mary’s veil, while not part of the History Museum’s collection, was her ‘something old’ – an heirloom carrickmacross lace veil, which also acted as the train. The museum does, however, have Mary’s silky knitted stockings. The fronts of the stockings have an elaborate pattern running from just above the knees all the way to the toes.
The stockings are silky to the touch, and have that glisten seen with nylon pantyhose. The most interesting part of each of the stockings is the blue monogrammed tag attached at the top.
When I was doing research for ‘Happily Ever After,’ I found the couple’s wedding announcement from the Roanoke World News, published on the 24th of August, 1918. It is extremely detailed, and especially focuses on the war time simplicity of the event. As mentioned before, the wedding took place at Mary’s parents’ home on Mountain Avenue. Dr. Arthur Rowbotham, minister of Second Presbyterian Church from 1901-1921, performed the ceremony at the makeshift altar in the family’s dining room. Mary’s friends played integral roles during both the ceremony and the reception: ten held streamers of tulle at the makeshift altar, and several others cut and served cake. Several of Mary’s friends threw impromptu parties the Wednesday and Thursday prior to the wedding, illustrating the abrupt, but exciting, plans to marry. See the full announcement below.
This dress has been sponsored by our friends at Kevin Hurley Photography. Kevin is happy to provide high quality photographs for senior portraits, family portraits, or bridal portraits. Be sure to contact him for any of your portrait needs!
Thank you to all our sponsors!
Melissa Kloss Barnhart Sue Collins Mr. and Mrs. William Gearhart Jr.
Dr. Nelson and Brenda Greene Ann Drew Gibbons & Sarah Gibbons Kohler
Mrs. James G. Hull Betty Hundley Joseph D. Logan III and Laura B. Logan
Carolyn Ratcliffe & Judy Austin Mr. and Mrs. Charles Morgan Harry and Natalie Norris