by Kylie Pine
There are some days working with collections here at the museum where we end up at the end of the day and feel like we have been “down the rabbit hole” chasing elusive information about a particular collection. After coming up for air from today’s rabbit hole, I took a second to take stock at the strange and wonderful places looking into this one particular artifact had taken me.
On the face of it, this card (M3 1996-007-0003) seems pretty plain – a wedding announcement for Cora Wallace and Thomas Benjamin Kay. It caught our attention because Thomas Benjamin Kay would later become the owner and operator of the Thomas Kay Woolen Mills.
The card was found in the accession files for two photos that had been donated to the museum in 1996 we found when cleaning out a corner of one of the five storage areas we have on site. It had never been cataloged, so we made the decision to give it a number so it could be tracked and more easily found through our database. A cryptic note from 1997, and its long term storage in the Accession file for the photos eventually convinced me that this was probably an item that had been brought in by the donor about a year after the donation and never dealt with. So a number was assigned.
Further digging into the accession file found a series of undated photocopied newspaper articles related to the family. One in particular caught my eye with a grand description of the wedding portended by this card:
On Tuesday evening last at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. C.A. Wallace a happy event occurred that made glad the hearts of many and started another tiny boat afloat upon the matrimonial sea. Miss Cora Wallace, a most estimable and charming young lady, and youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. C.A. Wallace, was united in the holy bonds of wedlock to Mr. Thos. B. Kay, eldest son of Hon. Thos. Kay, of the Brownsville woolen mills, and partner of Mr. Chas. Bishop, of this city. Miss Wallace was born and reared in old Yamhill, and is known as a kind, obliging and generous-hearted woman, by all her associates, who will gladly wish her God speed and a happy married life. Mr. T.B. Kay is a rising young busines [sic] man who counts his friends by the scores, gaining the good will and respect of all with whom he comes in contact. Both the bride and the groom are well known to us, and we welcomed Benedict Tom to our circle with a hearty good will, while the jolly matrons of the city will look after “Madame Cora.”
With more delicious language, the article goes on to list all of the invited guests and all of the “numerous and useful” presents given to the happy couple including:
Gold watch and pair of blankets by Thos. Kay, Sr.; castor and bedspread, Mrs. Thos. Kay; organ and $40 in cash, Mr. and Mrs. C.A. Wallace; silver pickle castor, Mr. and Mrs. J.A. Todd; set of pie plates, Mr. and Mrs. E.W. Wallace; 200 pounds of flour, C.P. Bishop; silver card stand, Mrs. C.P. Bishop; silver sugar spoon, Clarence, Roy and Chauncy Bishop; butter knife, Minnie and Bertha Kay; fruit dish, Lenore Kay; silver butter dish, R.L. Holman; Tennyson’s works, Louis Maddock; two mush sets, Mr. and Mrs. J.L. Rogers, Silver napkin ring, Elon Wallace; mustard spoon, sugar spoon and butter knife, Myrtie Apperson and Elma Woodard; silver spoon holder, Lora Hunsaker, Miss Ella Ruegg and Alta Porter; silver pie spoon, Jarrett Todd; painting, Miss Mattie Todd; salad bowl, Frank Rogers, silver castor, Mr. and Mrs. Hunter and Myrtie and Ardee Morrill; set of tea cups and saucers…
Aside from the interesting list of what new couples might expect for wedding gifts in 1888, the list of presents also connects and confirms some family relationship dots. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Kay, Sr., perhaps not surprisingly were the parents of the groom. The woolen blankets seem to be more of a symbolic gift, seeing as Thomas Lister Kay was then working at the Brownsville Woolen Mills, preparing to start a new business venture in Salem – The Thomas Kay Woolen Mill would incorporate in 1889. Mr. and Mrs C.A. Wallace were the bride’s parents. Both had traveled separately across the Oregon Trail and had been married in Yamhill County. C.A. or Colin A. Wallace had come to Oregon in 1852 from Batavia, Michigan. As an article describing the couple’s 60th wedding anniversary states (also found in the accession record):
driving from three to five yoke of oxen on the way. He first stopped at The Dalles. Later he paid H. Woodard, another early Oregon pioneer, one hundred dollars to bring him to this vicinity. Mr. Wallace was in the Indian war of ’55 and ’56.
Mrs. C.A. Wallace, nee Eliza Shuck, had come to Oregon in 1847 at age 8. C.P. Bishop and his wife Fannie Kay Bishop were Thomas Benjamin’s sister and brother-in-law. Clarence, Roy and Chauncy of the silver sugar spoon, were their children – T.B.’s nephews. It is interesting to note that the Bishop family re-started the Pendlteon Woolen Mills – a company that continues today.
The photocopied newspaper articles appear to be out of a scrapbook, and unfortunately there are no dates or publication names associated with them.
In order to track materials in our database, we often tag records with names of individuals. This helps us quickly identify materials for family researchers. In indexing this record with Cora’s name, I noticed that she was incorrectly entered into the database. In correcting this mistake I noticed that her childhood photo, part of the original accession, seemed to be erroneously dated. Our catalog record indicated that this photo was taken sometime between 1880 and 1920. Aside from the fact found on the wedding invitation that Cora was married in 1888 and we didn’t think she was a child bride, the clothing she is wearing looks older. Given her presumed birth date of 1863 (via the 1880 Census), we have updated the date of the photo to be sometime between 1863 and 1873.
In completing a condition report on the card, we noticed some dark discolorations on the back side. These were in a striped pattern, suggesting the card was in some kind of self adhesive scrapbook. It was a good reminder to us, and hopefully to everyone, that as convenient as the sticky pages of modern photo albums may be, they do cause lasting effects on the materials stored therein.