Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Great-Grandmother's Wedding Dress - Rose Gross Ryan

As mentioned in the previous post, I attended the Celebration of Life for a James Hugh Ryan this past weekend.  In the process, I got to meet several second cousins I'd never met.  One of these was Pam Biederman.  I'd been told by Pam's mother that Pam had part of the wedding dress of our g-grandmother, Rose Gross Ryan, framed and hanging in her living room.  Pam said she had been given the dress by her grandfather, Ray Ryan, with the promise that she would wear it in her own wedding.  In an email Pam said, "I never married so I did the best next thing and framed it. The dress is in my family/living room and I enjoy it every day."

I'm one of those lucky family historians who actually was left INFORMATION by my ancestors.  My grandmother, Virginia Ryan, left records stating that James Hugh and Rose Gross were married in a "mission" church in Ottenheim, Kentucky.  I wrote to the church and they sent me this record.

Based on this information, I'd tried to discover why the Ryan/Gross families were living in Kentucky -- a fect not supported by any of my research.  It was only in the past year, thanks to Matt Biederman, that I discovered that they only got married in Kentucky, but did not live there.  He sent me a copy of the dispensation James and Rose got from their parish to get married before their banns had been published three times.

Pam kindly agreed to send me pictures of the framed wedding dress.  I don't know what the top looked like, but I can't believe the detail in the skirt portion.  I tried to enlarge part of the embroidery so that you can have an appreciation of the handiwork involved in the dress.

Click to see detail

What talent!  This dress gives me a better understanding of how my ancestors were able to support themselves through embroidery.  Thanks, Pam, for sharing.


  1. Spectacular! Love the research that augments the facts. And love, love, love that skirt.


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