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Posted on May 22, 2015

Museum fashions new exhibit from pioneer wedding gowns

A donation of a wedding dress worn by a local pioneer woman in 1909 is the inspiration behind the newest exhibit at the historic Reiman-Simmons House.

“We will be showing the fashions and accessories of our pioneering past,” said Harriet Weber of the Quincy Valley Historical Society and Museum.

The beautiful donation blossomed into what is a unique exhibit of fashions and accessories worn in the early days of Quincy. The exhibit, called Prairie Roses, is named after the book “Prairie Roses,” written by local author Beverly Mayer, a descendent of two original pioneering families of the Quincy Valley.

Mayer, whose family has been farming in the Sagebrush Flats area since 1898, writes of pioneering women and their lives in “Prairie Roses.” Many of the fashion pieces on display are originals from Mayer’s family collection.

The exhibit includes three wedding dresses, including one worn in the early 1900s by Bessie Simmons, who married Earle Simmons and had seven children. Another dress belonged to Edna Neese-Rudberg, who was married in the Pioneer Church, the restored German Lutheran Church that was built in 1904 in Quincy and later moved to the museum. The dress dates to 1909 and has a waist that measures 21 inches. The third wedding gown, donated by Mayer, belonged to Margaret Kehrer, who wed in 1913.

“All of these wedding dresses were sewn with French seams,” Weber said. “French seams are double-hidden seams.”

Also featured is an outfit worn by Josephine Mayer, who pioneered on Sagebrush Flats in the late 1800s. Next to the display sits a picture of Josephine running a plow; she farmed alongside her husband.

The Prairie Roses exhibit opens at noon Saturday. The exhibit will be open noon to 3 p.m. every Friday and Saturday through Farmer Consumer Awareness Day weekend, which is Sept. 11-12.
The exhibit is free; however, a donation box is available for people who want to make a contribution to the museum and its efforts.

Weber reminds the public that the historical society always is looking for donations or loans of antiques and artifacts or documents and photographs from the early days of Quincy. Without the donated artifacts, exhibits such as Prairie Roses would not be possible.

“I love it when we have enough artifacts to have an exhibit,” Weber said. “I would love to do more.”

For more information about the current exhibit Prairie Roses, or to find out more about volunteering or donating, please call the Quincy Valley Historical Society and Museum at 787-4685.


— By Tammara Green, QVPR contributer

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