Monday, October 3, 2011

Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck. April 11, 1883.

Guest Post by Karen Matthews

The Dress made for a Wedding

Elizabeth was very fastidious about her clothes and wore clothing that was distinctive. It was at Emigration Square that she met Mary Hansen. Mary was an excellent dressmaker who made many of the dresses for Elizabeth. One particular dress was made for the wedding of Priscilla Paul Jennings and William W. Riter, which took place April 11, 1883. Elizabeth and daughter, Helen Melvina Groesbeck Morgan, assisted Mary Hansen in its completion.

The material was mainly heavy black satin over a foundation of heavy black lining. It was a two-piece costume, with a caught-up bustle effect at the back of the short train skirt. The skirt was decked with two draped flounces of satin trimmed in black velvet, and edged with jet bead and chenille fringe. The back of the skirt was draped and caught into the side seams to give a tucked draped picture across the back. There was a short train which was lined with black lining laid into wide box pleats to hold the velvet train away from the feet and the floor.

The jacket was made with a shirred V-shape vest which extends to the waistline. It was edged with wide black lace. Open reverse of the jacket below the waistline was trimmed with a facing of black velvet. It was also edged with black lace around the bottom of the jacket.

The velvet was purchased by Nicholas Groesbeck while in England. He paid $25.00 a yard for it. As Elizabeth always wore a watch and chain, there was a small velvet pocket placed at the left front side on the waistline for this purpose.

It was a custom with Elizabeth to wear lace caps as so many women of her day did. With this dress she used a black one. It was made of the same lace as trimmed the dress. It had back ruffles which came down over the back of the neck. Between these ruffles she always wore a few dainty flowers.

B. H. Roberts said of Elizabeth, “She was a quiet, calm, dignified, splendid pioneer queen—no less!”

Thank you cousin Karen for your wonderful account.

Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck

Helen Melvina "Mellie" Groesbeck Morgan

John Hamilton Morgan

John Morgan would have missed this wedding because on April 1, 1883 he arrived Pueblo, Colorado with Southern States' Emigrants. And On April 10 he recorded, “assisted to plant some walnuts around my lot”

April 13, 1883 he was traveling home to Salt Lake, "Slept all night soundly and had late breakfast at Pleasant Valley Junction. Arrived at home at 2:30 p.m. and found all well."

John Hamilton Morgan Journal, Special Collections, Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.


  1. The amount of sewing that went into those dresses is mind-boggling -- all the pleats and trims and multitudes of hems. It's amazing to think of the skills which have been lost with automation.

  2. Thank you for your observations Amy. You are so right!