Notes from the White County Historical Society

By Charlene Shields

Notes from the White County Historical Society as they appear in "The Carmi Times."

Copyright ©1999 by "The Carmi Times" Permission to reprint granted to Laurel Crook and the ILGenWeb by Tammy Knox, editor, "The Carmi Times."

Jan. 9, 1999


Author Marc McCutcheon composed an interesting book entitled, "Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in the 1800s." With Valentine's Day approaching, this might be an appropriate time to mention some of the author's comments in his chapter on courtship and marriage.

"Coming to call," "keeping company," and "sparking" were some of the names applied to couples who were dating. "Give him the mitten," meant to dump or discard one's boyfriend. The first part of the 19th century, engagement rings were unheard of. About 1840, they became fashionable, but they were presented to the man as well as the woman. Also, about 1840, the bridal veil came into use. The charivari (shivaree) was a custom originating among the French in which the newly-married couple was serenaded on the night of their marriage or soon after by friends with horns, bells, whistles, pans, kettles and other noisemakers. This was kept up outside until the couple invited the group in for refreshments and entertainment. The first half of the 1800s, the giving of gifts was limited to immediate family members. Later, the giving circle expanded to include acquaintances and co-workers during the second half of the century. Gifts were of a decorative nature: sugar bowls, cake plates, ice cream knives and napkin rings were typical. Wedding days were usually Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Perhaps this was due to the minister's heavy weekend church schedule. Instead of a reception, a levee (party) was held following the wedding. Liquor, wine, tea or lemonade was served, depending on local moral codes. White wedding cake was mentioned in print as early as the 1820s but was largely unique to upper-class weddings.

The following poem is provided by Janet Armstrong. It appeared in the Hughes & Related Families International, Inc. Newsletter in December, 1998:

I climbed my family tree and found it was not worth the climb;
And so I scampered down, convinced it was a waste of time.
Some branches of my tree I found were rotten to the core.
And, all the tree was full of sap and hung with nuts galore!
I used to brag of my kinfolk, before I made the climb,
But truth compels me not to tell of those not worth a dime.
And, I beg friends who boast aloud of their ancestors great,
To climb their family tree and learn of those who weren't so straight.
I've learned what family trees are like, I've seen them growing 'round.
They're like a 'tater' vine because, the best are underground!

The Genealogy Library is open from 11 to 5 on Wednesdays.
Write us at PO Box 121, Carmi, IL 62821.

Notes from the Genealogy Library
White County Historical Society
located downstairs in the Ratcliff Inn, downtown Carmi

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Updated by Laurel Crook, 19-Feb 1999

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