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As It Was: Jacksonville Wedding Goes Awry in 1855

This story is either a lost account of a terrible day for the Jacksonville elite, or it might be just a tall tale written by a historian with a sense of humor.  It goes this way:

In 1855, the social event of the year was the marriage in Jacksonville’s new church of a couple whose names have been lost to history, or perhaps never existed.  The church had been completed ahead of schedule to accommodate the wedding.  It was freshly painted and the pews freshly varnished.

Wedding guests arrived and were seated while a German pianist played for an hour before concluding with the Wedding March.  The minister’s hour-long sermon followed the ceremony, covering everything from Adam and Eve to the present day.  Finally, he asked the congregation to rise for the final benediction.  As the guests rose, a terrible rip of torn fabric broke the silence, followed by horrified gasps from people who realized that their fine clothing had remained glued to the fresh varnish.

This story was found in the Southern Oregon Historical Society archives, with a note attached from photographic historian Jack Sutton to “Frank.”  It refers to a “folklore idea,” with no further explanation of its source.

Source: Sutton, Jack. A Wedding to Remember, unpublished manuscript, Southern Oregon Historical Society, Mezzanine Box 31 A 2.

Pat Harper is the archivist for the Southern Oregon Historical Society, where she digitizes records, manages websites and learns more about regional history from the SOHS volunteers. After receiving her Master’s Degree in library science from the University of Illinois in 1980, Harper worked as a reference librarian, then as a library administrator. From 1994 to 2005, she was the Siskiyou County library director and lived in the country near Hornbrook, California.