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Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
The Hair Wreath - Mementos of the 1850-1875 Era
Article - The Hair Wreath of the 1850-1875 Era
Year: 1850-1875 
Article by Joyce M. Tice
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During the 1850s to 1870s a custom developed to make a small decorative wreath from the hair of a friend or relative. It was considered a good keepsake of love and friendship and was similar in nature to the much older custom of putting a lock of hair in a locket. Several examples of these with connections to our local area have come my way. Apparently a rather long lock of hair was taken, hopefully with permission and sometimes after death, and used as the yarn in the craft project. Most that I have seen were tatted, but other craft techniques were used. In the photo at the top of the page, the example is from the Robbins Family album. It is found on the back of the photo of Sarah Evans and is fully labeled as a death memento taken in 1866. It is a crocheted example in a simple single crochet ring tied with a black ribon to indicate death or mourning. These may even have been worn as a brooch by the aggrieved as a symbol of their mourning.

Another excellent example is the 1850s Family Wreath of the Updyke - Carley family of Jackson Township in Tioga County PA. It includes the names of many family members, probably collected at a family reunion. Their names were written on the back of the wreath. I have only a black and white photocopy of it sent by Bob Lefler. The original, with its many colors, must be beautiful. It appears to be tatted, but I would need to see the original or a better copy to determine for certain the craft involved. Names listed and image presented below. It would appear to me that the creator also collected from friends and neighbors in addition to family member. Just guessing.

Another presentation of this craft was sent in by Nancy KUHL Miller. She is in possession of an entire autograph book from the Bradford County area with a small hair wreath accompanying each signature. She has sent one page and a listing of all those included in the booklet. This is illustrated below with a listing of the names in the book as well.

It would be interesting to see what could be done in extracting DNA from these old hair samples.

If you have examples of these, it would be fun to collect them here. Please send in HIGH resolution JPG scans in COLOR. Date them and identify them if possible. Also tell us which Tri-County township the person lived in if you can. It would be interesting to see different craft methods and presentation formats for this practice.

The Updyke Family Hair Wreath
I assume most of the women are listed by married name rather than real name.
A page from the "Hair Book." - from Nancy KUHL Miller
Aunt Harriet Garrison Cora Ersley
Louise Garrison Hattie Shepard
Welby Updyke Angeline Shepard
Uncle Warren Wells Mahala Garrison
Emma Wells Alice Wells
Mrs. Shieve Rose Wells
Hatt Bortle, Jr. Helen Shieve
Irena Montager Mrs. Sedinger
Emma Stone Nora Drake
Electus Stilwell Uncle Ben Wells
Ida Lefler Edward Updyke
Mrs. Carr Nina Lefler
Delia Doty Mate Murdaugh
Milton Hagar Uncle J. Dewitt
Dela Garrison Hattie Robberts
Edna French J. Garrison
Mary Robberts Fanny Kymer
Henry Updyke Mag Shieve
Mrs. Lamb Estella Updyke
L.L. & W. Shieve Nancy & Wilie G.
Era Ersley Bell Keyes
Pollie Wheat Sue Insecko
Jamie Garrison Elliot Updyke
Frank & Charlie Shieve Fannie Wells
Grand Ma Wells Emma & Myself
Mrs. Shieve Aunt Samantha
Aunt Phoebe Mrs. Murdaugh
Jake Shieve Aunt Asenith
Mother Emeline Johnson
Richard Updyke Leila wells
Aunt Eunice Sumner & Will Wells
Caroline Garrison Mrs. French
Martha Lewis Date J. Annie Sturdevant
Carrie & Alice Roberts Reuben Wells
Mate Stilwell Frankie Wells
J. E. Shieve Sophie Updyke
Uncle Chester` Cale Garrison
Hattie Jewell
The “Hair Book” that I have from my family is, I assume, a type of autograph book! Since my grandfather, family and extended family settled in Bradford County I thought this might have some significance for others related to the following people: (I have inserted the first “page” below.) 
Hair Book “signatures”

Millie Ferguson
Lydia Avry
James Ferguson
John L. Ferguson
Cornelia Packard
Freelove Packard
Rebecca Weed
Matilda Corkin/Corkins
Julia  Ferguson
Lucinda Spaulding (cousin)
Margaret F. Ferguson
James Ferguson (cousin)
Isobel Cummings (cousin)
Mary Grant (cousin)
Edward Ferguson (cousin
Mary Ann Ferguson (cousin)
Edward Ferguson
John Ferguson

For more information see
 Subj:  Hair wreaths
Date:  7/2/2003 6:22:18 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From:    (Jane Webb)

Joyce, I don't if this is appropriate for your section on hair wreaths, but I thought it was interesting from a child's point of view.
Jane Webb

When my mother, Ruth Inscho, born in 1898, was in college she wrote an essay entitled "Old Pictures". The following is an excerpt from that essay.

"When I was still a small girl, I happened in at a neighbor’s home one day, and there I saw quite the funniest picture I had ever seen. It wasn’t exactly a picture either, although it boasted a heavy frame. She told me that it was a hair wreath and showed me the little yellow flowers that were made of a lock of hair from one of her babies, who had died. There were flowers of black and brown and red, and she told me who they represented in the family tree. The gray and white belonged to some of an older generation. I was fascinated and it promptly became one of my greatest ambitions to have a hair wreath."

Subj:  Hair Wreath 
Date:  09/23/2003 9:22:04 PM Eastern Daylight Time 
From: (gene and tess foreman)

File: DSC00362.jpg (34727 bytes) DL Time (TCP/IP): < 1 minute 

The Nebraska Historical Society referred me to your site about hair wreaths.  I have one that has been passed down to me, unfortunately I don't know much about it.  Attached is a picture.

October 2006 - Hi Joyce;

I am enclosing a picture of a ring.

It is a gold ring, in the likeness of a belt. The buckle is the top of the ring. It comes open on either side of the buckle to reveal my Grandmothers hair, when she was young. It is a ring that she gave her first husband in 1875.

He died after just a couple of months of marriage. In her diary of that year she mourns his death greatly.
I enjoy your articles in Mt. Home as well as your fantastic genealogy set-up.    Sincerely,  Dortha (Apgar) Johnston.   Just DJ

1846 Ralph Cook Death Memento
A death memento for Ralph Cook (son of Joel Cook Jr and brother of Cyrus Cook) containing a lock of his hair.  The inscription on the card reads:
Ralph, son of Joel and Polly Cook of the town of Orwell, Bradford Co., Penn. died of a settled inflammation inhis bowels and elsewhere on the 17th of March A.M. 10 minutes past nine.  Aged 19 yrs. 3 mos. 19 days.  He died in faith trusting in Jesus Christ for salvation and the hope of Glory.  "Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord."  Text Luke 12th 40.   1846
The reverse side of the card reads:  Presented to his sister Caroline Cook by his sister Mary Cook.  May the warmth of applause attend your endeavors and Pleasure and happiness pursue you forever.  April 15th  Orwell, Bradford co.  Penn    Mary Cook
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 06/212003
By Joyce M. Tice

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