Thursday, September 8, 2016

Celebrating a Cost Family Wedding in Cincinnati, 1897

Today, Sarah recalls a trip to Cincinnati for the wedding of "Aunt Lee,"  Ida Leonora Cost, sister of Sarah's mother Alice Ada Cost Howe. Sarah was two months shy of her 14th birthday when she went to the wedding.

Sarah begins with memories about the wedding site, the church where for years her mother and aunts played piano for Sunday School and church services.
The Cost home from Aunt Em's [1] then Mama's time, thru Aunt Jessie's[2] young days, then especially Aunt Mame[3] was always filled with music and gay singing and talking and overflowing with young people. Also going to St. Paul’s Church Young Peoples and Sunday School, where Aunt Mame played for several years (Aunt Jessie had played six years after Mama left.) There they of course met many nice young men, and in 1897, on October 11th, Mama’s wedding day[4], Aunt Lee married Earl Burdette Russell, a young railroad man whom she had met there at St. Paul’s. She was 24, and Mame about 29 or 30 at that time.

We went up to the wedding. It was the most fun and excitement of my young life “so far.” Leonora[5] was not quite 10 months old, but already trying to say a few words and as Aunt Lee’s namesake (as well as Mama’s) she was of course an honor guest at the wedding, but I was the one who thrilled to the romance of it all. I was very much taken with Earl who was gay, handsome and friendly. He and Lee took me over to see their little two room apartment on Barr Street where Aunt Katie and Uncle John Smith had gone to housekeeping in ’88 but had moved to Carrollton when Grandpa Howe died. One thing that slightly shocked me with my “Southern” elaborate ideas was the casualness of Aunt Lee’s preparations for such a great event. Up to the afternoon of the wedding she had still not quite decided which of the new dresses she had gotten she would wear to be married in!! I believe she finally chose a blue cloth dress, and wore it also to go away in. Grandma Cost had gotten both Aunt Lee and Aunt Mame the latest thing in capes, black curly lamb quite long. She wanted to buy Mama one, but Mama had a good coat (and said to give her the money. With this and some various gifts of money which had been presented to me at various birthday occasions, she and Papa bought my beloved bicycle, the friend and comrade . . .  of the next three years for me. It was in the spring of '98, I think, that they bought it.)

A clipping in Sarah's scrapbooks refers to a hat similar to the one she wore to the wedding. I think the photo below is the one she mentions in her description.
. . . Lee and Earl went to Chicago on their wedding trip and Aunt Mame and Harry[6] and I went to the station with them. We enjoyed so much staying in the spacious Grandpa Arnet home. It seemed so much changed tho to me, for as I remembered it the parlor was dark and still, and everyone was so quiet – but when the Cost family moved into a house, things began to hum. Harry was now 21, and working in a railroad office (but not the one he worked in most of his life). Morris[7] was 19, and crazy about horses, he always had a job driving for some firm – Adams Express Company for awhile but that was later, and he had some thrilling adventures with them.

 Grandpa had always humored Morris, just as Grandma did Harry. Because of Harry’s long illness in 1890, and his trouble with a catarrhal[8] infection as he got older, Grandma felt he was “delicate” so she never encouraged him to do any “hard” work, if indeed he was even inclined to do it. He wrote beautifully, was very intelligent, could play the piano by ear from an early age, and wore his clothes well. Grandpa on the other hand, indulged Morris by letting him leave school and get a job (as young boys could then) long before he should have done so. So when Grandma came into her legacy[9], both the boys “relaxed” and thought they could take a vacation for awhile, look around for better jobs, and perhaps eventually buy a place in the country to farm, as both of them had always wanted to do (and as they did later on). In the meantime they were most charming and indulgent companions for their 14-year-old niece.

I chuckled aloud when I read Sarah's observations about her uncles Harry and Morris and their inclinations against hard work. Harry was only seven years older than Sarah, and Harry was three years younger than Harry. To Sarah, the boys were probably more like cousins than uncles. Just imagine the family stories (and maybe resentments?) about the pampering Harry and Morris enjoyed from their parents.

This photo of Harry and Morris was not in the scrapbook but in a Cost family album. Of course, the boys were older at the time of the wedding, but I couldn't resist including this image here. Look at those faces! It's easy to imagine the Cost parents "humoring" these two sons.

Did you catch Sarah's comment about her joy in receiving her first bicycle? Stay tuned! That bicycle will play a major role in a future relationship.

[1] Emma Cost, a paternal aunt to Sarah's mother Alice Ada Cost Howe. Emma was born about 1852, just seven years before Alice, so the girls probably grew up more like cousins than aunt-niece.
[2] Jessie Fremont Cost, born 1861; sister of Sarah's mother Alice Ada Cost Howe.
[3] Mary Naomi Cost, born 1869; Sarah's mother's sister
[4] This wedding was on Sarah's parent's 15th wedding anniversary. Alice Ada Cost and Robert James Howe married 11 October 1882.
[5] Sarah's little sister Leonora Alice Howe, born 20 December 1896
[6] Richard Henry Cost, Jr., born 1876; Sarah's mother's brother
[7] Morris Elliott Cost, born 1879; Sarah's mother's brother
[8] Related to copious discharge of mucus associated with inflammation of mucous membranes, especially of the nose and throat. Source:
[9] The inheritance received when Sarah's great-grandfather David Arnet died in January 1897


Diane Carey said...

Loved reading this. Can't wait for more.

Frances Nelson Salyers said...

Thank you for reading, Diane. Your thoughtful comment inspires me to write more about Sarah and her family and community.