Tri-Counties Genealogy &
History by Joyce M. Tice
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
|Article by Joyce M. Tice
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.
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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
|A page from the "Hair Book." - from Nancy KUHL Miller
|Aunt Harriet Garrison
|Uncle Warren Wells
|Hatt Bortle, Jr.
|Uncle Ben Wells
|Uncle J. Dewitt
|L.L. & W. Shieve
|Nancy & Wilie G.
|Frank & Charlie Shieve
|Grand Ma Wells
|Emma & Myself
|Sumner & Will Wells
|Date J. Annie Sturdevant
|Carrie & Alice Roberts
|J. E. Shieve
|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”
John L. Ferguson
Lucinda Spaulding (cousin)
Margaret F. Ferguson
James Ferguson (cousin)
Isobel Cummings (cousin)
Mary Grant (cousin)
Edward Ferguson (cousin
Mary Ann Ferguson (cousin)
For more information see http://sohe.wisc.edu/depts/hlatc/pixelsexhibit/hair.html
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.
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
"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: firstname.lastname@example.org (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.
1846 Ralph Cook Death Memento
|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
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.
|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
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
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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