Museum of Northwest Colorado: The history of a wedding dress
June is the traditional month for weddings and there is a general whirl of activity as brides plan for their special day, especially the dress. One hundred years ago in 1914, young Helen Ballard, born in 1890 in Loveland was planning her marriage to Henry Mobley. The year, just prior to the outbreak of the Great War, was full of hope, and Helen must have felt that contagious hope as she sewed the lovely dress she would wear on her wedding day.
Sewn in the latest style of that day with pale blue crepe de chine and creamy lace insets, the dress was a daring modern calf-length and had a broad waist sash with a large rosette accent. Her lovely low-heeled satin shoes matched the rosette motif, and complemented the dress perfectly. She carried a matching crocheted purse with pale blue lining.
Upon their marriage on Nov. 25, 1914, the newlyweds moved to Golden where Henry was an officer at the State Industrial School. Even though the ensuing war brought tensions to the country there was still hope in the air as the expanded Homestead Act of 1912 offered new lands to city dwellers. In 1916 the young Mobleys got hit with the homestead fever, and pulling up stakes they traveled to Moffat County and filed on a homestead in the Big Gulch area.
The wet cycle that had been such a boon to early homesteaders dried up in the late 1920s coinciding with the onset of the Depression. The Mobleys and their three daughters, Margaret, Esthermae and Edith, hung on until 1933 when they finally moved into Craig. Henry went to work for the county and Helen augmented the family income by taking in sewing. They also took in rural students who needed to board in town during the school year in order to attend high school.
Helen was active in town life and was a member of various civic organizations including the Rebekah Lodge, the Garden Club, the Friendly Service Club and the Jane Jefferson Club. Henry worked in the assessor’s office and served as the county clerk and recorder, as well as serving as the Justice of the Peace until his death in 1963.
Helen died in 1976, and thanks to the thoughtfulness of her family, her carefully sewn wedding dress was donated to the Museum of Northwest Colorado where it is now on display. It is a reminder of the young hopes that are timeless and continue to contribute to the success of communities such as ours. Be sure to include a visit to the museum this summer; it is open Monday through Saturday with free admission.
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