I appreciate city directories. Like cellular phone books prior to there had been telephones, these alphabetical listings of individuals residing inside of the metropolis are treasure troves of historical data.
A person unique advertisement in the 1880 Salem City Directory caught my eye lately. In elegant script with floral gildings Mrs. J.W. Weatherford marketed herself as: “Manufacturer of HAIR Jewelry of every fashion and variety. Center Road, bet. Commercial and Entrance, Salem, OR.”
While existing Google Queries of the expression “Hair Jewelry” may possibly convey up the most recent choices in hair accessories — barrettes, headbands, etcetera., the solution marketed here by Mrs. Weatherford is much more most likely the Victorian trend of producing jewellery out of human hair.
Whilst the use of human hair in personal adornment is viewed in a large amount of periods of history, it genuinely arrived into its have throughout the Victorian interval and normally was related to mourning customs of the time – a memento to don’t forget a loved a single. Sound a very little … Halloweenesque? You are not by itself. Just a several decades right after Mrs. Weatherford advertised her store, hair jewellery experienced absent out of manner entirely – to the position the place one particular Oregon Statesman newspaper editor had to remind their viewers what the trend was all about. Composing in 1907 they noted:
Fifty decades ago, it was the manner for girls to have several articles of jewellery built from their have hair or that of her close friends. These ornaments were being mounted in gold, maybe with the addition of pearls as a more ornamentation. Typically there ended up incorporated in the established a necklace, a breastpin, and earrings. In just one established which has been introduced out of a jewel box after lengthy confinement there the necklace is created of hair finely woven in a extensive circular strand, soon after which it is divided to imitate beads by slim gold filets. A gold ball is positioned right in the centre, from which count [sic] two bells made of hair with little gold clappers. The breastpin is the condition of a bouble [sic] bowknot with a gold ornament in the center, and two bell-shaped sections dangling from them. The earrings are bells. In its working day this kind of a established value about $100 for building. It was an art in itself, the weaving and plaiting of hair into ornaments. Now there are scarcely to be located any employees who are familiar with the artwork.
It wasn’t just jewelry. Hair was gathered and utilised in attractive artwork, much too. The Willamette Heritage Centre has a attractive hair wreath in its collections made by Margaret Conser McCoy. It will be on display at the museum’s orientation center by the stop of Oct, as well. In circumstance you have to have a visual example of the artform.
But, back again to Mrs. Weatherford.
It was abnormal for a married woman to individual a business enterprise in the 1880s — a time when the state structure, to its credit score, allowed married women to own assets independently of their husbands, but also expected a notarized declaration type in buy to physical exercise that suitable. Even though the advertisement obviously reveals she was working a company, her occupation in the census that exact 12 months was outlined as “Keeping Property.” I started out wondering a bit far more about what might have prompted Mrs. Weatherford’s entrepreneurial spirit.
Mrs. J.W. Weatherford was born Rebecca Ellen Robinson in Missouri in about 1843. As a young girl she travelled with her dad and mom and older sister to Oregon where the loved ones settled in the Hillsboro region. She was married to James W. Weatherford in Portland in 1863. J.W. Weatherford worked with his father as druggist in his family’s retail store on Entrance Street in Portland. The couple would have a son, Frederick, and two daughters, Ina and Pearl. Sometime following 1870, the relatives relocated to Salem, wherever J.W. opened up a 2nd area of the family retail outlet — specializing in “Drugs! Oils! Paints!” on the west aspect of Industrial Avenue among Ferry and Condition.
The 1880 Metropolis Listing provides specific organization descriptions for both of the Weatherfords. J.W. was described as “Earnest in his organization, genial in his fashion, and heat in his friendships, it is not any surprise that he has manufactured hosts of pals, and secured nearly the monopoly of the drug business right here.”
Of Rebecca the directory stated: “We have seen specimens of hair jewellery the handiwork of Mrs. J. Weatherford of this metropolis, which for class, neatness and inventive skill, will examine favorable with just about anything designed wherever. It will be a satisfaction no doubt to lots of to know that in Salem they can have hair function finished, and carried out at reasonable charges, and in the very very best fashion.“
Combine these descriptions with the census record showing them using a servant housekeeper and a newspaper posting describing programs for a grand new residence and a single might get a rosy image of domestic bliss. But that was not the whole story, as quite a few files uncovered through the assist of people at the Oregon Condition Archives and the Marion County Archives would quickly demonstrate.
J.W. Weatherford bought out of the spouse and children business enterprise in 1881. Several lawsuits versus Weatherford surface in the Marion County Circuit Court records in Could of 1883 with a community service provider and a regional Masonic lodge demanding revenue. That exact same thirty day period J.W. sells a ton in downtown Salem he owns to Rebecca for a greenback, cost-free from all encumbrances apart from a $2,000 home finance loan on the residence and a number of judgements amounting to more than $400, in addition lawful service fees.
Rebecca filed for divorce in July 1883. In her complaint she alleged her partner experienced neglected to supply for her and her small children for two yrs and “with rare exceptions …(rendered) her quite not happy and her lifestyle burdensome.”
Handwritten notes of testimony to a court appointed referee give a handful of additional details. In addition to failing to present for the relatives, Weatherford experienced seemingly absent so far as to forbid his spouse credit score at a number of suppliers all over town and posted a newspaper detect to all merchants in the town that he would not spend any of his wife’s bills.
Rebecca noted that he had regularly occur household intoxicated, “making it quite disagreeable for myself and household.” When questioned in which her spouse was, she replied: “I do not know, when I previous listened to from him he was in San Francisco. He under no circumstances writes to me.”
When it is apparent that J.W. Weatherford was served with a summons, he did not surface before the courtroom and the divorce was granted in October, as was total custody of the youngsters to Rebecca. Her possession of house (at what is now the northwest corner of Industrial and Heart Streets) no cost from assert of her partner was also confirmed. Significantly less than a 7 days right after the courtroom granted the divorce, Rebecca marketed her ton and purchased one more much less expensive one particular at the northeast corner of Union and Liberty Streets, presumably to assist clear some of the financial debt. Although there is truly no way to know for guaranteed when income and marital complications commenced for the loved ones, it is at minimum plausible to imagine that the hair jewellery business enterprise could have been a way for Rebecca to aid herself and her family.
Rebecca and her daughters would move to Portland and Arlington, Oregon, in advance of settling in the Seattle space. It is attention-grabbing to observe that the 1889 Polk’s Directory for Seattle lists Rebecca as “widow of J.W. Weatherford,” even however she would predecease her ex-husband. This minor detail offers a bit of insight into how she could possibly have felt about the divorce and the stigma it carried in the modern society in which she was living. She did inevitably remarry. Rebecca died of most cancers in 1892 and is buried in the Salem Pioneer Cemetery.
J.W. would die a yr later of coronary heart failure in the water closet of his Portland places of work. It seems that immediately after his divorce he attended the Willamette College Medical University (at the time in Portland) and graduated as an allopath in 1890. His ultimate resting put is at the Lone Fir Cemetery in Portland.
Kylie Pine is curator at the Willamette Heritage Heart, a 5-acre museum in Salem dedicated to connecting generations by preserving and decoding the record of the Mid-Willamette Valley. She can be reached at 503-585-7012 or [email protected].