Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Wedding Party

As you have been forewarned, this week will bring a few more details regarding the wedding of Francis X. Stevens and Norma Flowers in New Lexington, Ohio. The main reason I’d like to take this review of the newspaper article slowly is not merely to correct the few errors (my corrections appear within brackets where necessary), but to explain the incredibly dense relationship network among those residing in Perry County, home of the bride.

An internet friend of mine once posted a saying that sums up the relationship issues in Perry County: "If you go back far enough, you'll find everyone in Perry County, Ohio, is related to everyone else." In more practical terms, a couple other genealogical researchers I’ve met online have explained the impact of that quote: before accepting any offers for dates in high school, Perry County girls had to engage in a serious discussion of who was related to whom. After all, you wouldn’t want to turn out liking a guy, only to find out he was a second cousin!

I imagine Perry County would be a gold mine for sociologists studying networks. Though a beautiful, rural locale, Perry County is not a place outsiders flock to. You will sense a bit of this predicament when I explain the relationships mentioned in this Flowers-Stevens wedding article.

The Zanesville, Ohio, Times Recorder article continues with a brief mention of the wedding party:

            Mrs. Ned Winegardner, as matron of honor, wore a gown of aqua taffeta with matching mitts and bonnet. She carried a bouquet of yellow daisy mums. She wore a rhinestone necklace, a gift from the bride.
            Kenneth Stevens [should be Edward; Kenneth was the bride’s brother] was his brother’s best man. Ned Winegardner was usher.

You may be thinking that the name, Ned, seems vaguely familiar. It is. Ned is the relative who first introduced Frank to Norma. I called him a cousin in a previous post, but that is not entirely correct. More precisely (if there were such a designation), Ned would be a step-cousin-once-removed from Frank.

Here’s the nitty-gritty of how that works: Frank’s mother’s much-older sister, Mary Monica Tully, married widower Dennis Austin McGonagle. By his first marriage, Austin had had a daughter, Mary Esther McGonagle, who lost her mother, Ellen Clementine Bennett, when the child was only two years old. When Dennis married Mary Monica, Frank’s Aunt Mae raised Mary Esther as her own child, along with the rest of the soon-to-be large family.

Still with me? Good. There's more.

Mary Esther eventually married James Albert Winegardner and they had a family of their own. Their firstborn, Ralph Edward Winegardner, for reasons unknown to me, received the nickname Ned.

"Ahhh," you say. "Finally: there's Ned!" Stay with me, though, for there's more.

With the age difference between sisters Agnes and Mae, the end result for Frank and Ned was a little over three years—not much of a difference, once the two became adults. Perhaps it was that little discrepancy in their ages that allowed Ned—and, in turn, Frank—to get to know Norma, who, though only two years younger than Ned, was nearly six years Frank’s junior.

Ned’s wife brings up another long chain of relationships. A year and a half before Frank and Norma’s wedding day, Ned had married Madonna Fisher. I don’t suppose Norma knew this at the time of her wedding, but she and her matron of honor were actually fourth cousins. I won’t engage you in the genealogical tedium of that calculation just now—but be assured: both Norma and Madonna were from families long (as in nearly two centuries long) established in the New Lexington area.

You have already met Ed Stevens, Frank’s brother who served as best man at the wedding. I have to laugh at this error made by the newspaper: they weren’t entirely off track with this mistake. At least someone in the bridal party had a brother named Kenneth! But, to set the record straight, it was Edward Stevens who did the honors for this happy occasion.

As we continue with details from the Times Recorder tomorrow, you’ll get to meet more of the very-intertwined families of Perry County, Ohio.


  1. I've never really figured out why but using their middle name instead of their first name was fairly common in my family. If they decided to use Edward rather than Ralph, then Ned makes sense. (Though how Ned became a common nickname for Edward is beyond me.)

    1. Ned was a common nickname for Edward in the 1900's.

  2. In my family (for 5 generations) the son that was to own the majority of the family business was named Harry. This led to confusion so all the "Harry's" were called by their middle names. My grandfather Harry Edward was called "Bud". My father, Harry Robert was called Ted but my mom put a stop to that. My two brothers and I don't have middle names since it was to be made "Harry" for whomever took over the business (and none of us have).

    Perhaps there is a logic to it - that eludes us just now.


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