Mike Syphert recently showed me a little brown book bound in leather with a ribbon tied around it.  

It was his great-grandmother’s book, entitled “Wedlock Memories”— given to her before her wedding.  

I was fascinated with the book, which was at one time given to newly engaged young women in Polk County. It included coupons to redeem for local businesses (some required proof of one’s marriage license), advice regarding how to have a happy marriage (obviously written by some overly dramatic female) and many places for the bride-to-be to make notes about the upcoming event.  

Little brown book 1

The groom, Mr. Henry House, and the bride, Miss Nora Jump, were married on Aug. 26, 1916, at Mr. Robert Jump’s.  

I was unable to decipher the name of the minister who married them, although it is stated that the ceremony was completed in accordance with the laws of the United States of America.

Although weddings at that time in history were usually much less elaborate than they now are, I’m sure the excitement of starting a new part of one’s life was the same. And the bride had a little book of coupons to redeem, advertisements telling which store was “best,” as well as advice to help her set up her home. How nice. 

There were also pages for the newlyweds to complete: “Important Events in Our Lives Jotted Down for Ready Reference,” which had no entries; “Birth Record,” in which several births were noted; and “Death Record,” which was left blank.   

Located in the towns in Polk County, the businesses which provided the coupons represent practically every kind of store one can imagine.  H.J. McCracken, Jeweler, advises that if the newly engaged couple has already considered where to purchase their ring somewhere else, it isn’t too late to change their minds and buy one from his store, while George Mark Upton, proprietor of the City Drug Store (Rexall), wants them to know he can provide all kinds of remedies and tonics to keep them well.  

The Ross Sisters advertise their photography studio as “The Place That Pleases” and promises to create or copy photographs for the couple.  

There are also advertisements for ladies’ and gents’ clothing, hardware, stoves, wagons, buggies and harnesses. 

Reed Motor Co. would like to sell the couple a new Model T. The McKinney Mortgage Co. offers to help them purchase a home; Engleman & Wakefield has a store full of furniture to make that home just right. Francis & Sons of Bolivar has the best in groceries, while Mrs. Mae McCraskey, manager of McCraskey Millinery Co. in Bolivar, and Mrs. Roy F. Allison, manager of The Leader in Humansville, compete for the privilege of selling the best hats to the bride.  

The list goes on and on — every possible thing that someone could want is listed.  

There is an identical book in the North Ward Museum, but it was never filled out and nobody knew much about it. I’m so glad Mike’s great-grandmother took the time to make entries into hers and especially that he took the time to share it with me. 

Mike also has a wonderful photo of his great-grandparents’ general store at Huron. Their names were Ernest and Eunice Beem, and they are pictured in front of their store. Stores like that in the small towns that dotted our landscape in earlier times were the gathering places of communities, where groceries and dry goods were purchased while conversations ensued and tall tales were told.

Little brown book 2 - general store

Thank you Mike, for sharing some of your family’s history with all of us. 

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