Wedding bells at San Francisco’s Presidio (1896)

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Wedding bells at San Francisco's Presidio (1896)
Exactly a year after his first wife died, Dr Morton Grinnell announced his engagement to heiress Jennie Catherwood. At the time of their wedding three months later, he was 41 years old, and the blushing bride was 24.

The couple apparently remained married for just over nine years, until his death in 1905. Jennie eventually movee on. In 1908, the San Francisco Call reported that “Madame Joaquin de Pereqra, formerly Jennie Catherwood Grinnell, and her husband have taken a villa in Buenos Aires, where Don de Pereqra is the Spanish Consul.”

Miss Jennie Catherwood and Dr Grinnell 1896

Wedding bells at the Presidio
Nuptials of Miss Jennie Catherwood and Dr Grinnell
Assembly hall adorned with pennants and snowy blossoms

The Presidio band plays

Most elaborate affair ever witnessed at the post — Gorgeous wedding presents

Miss Jennie Catherwood (daughter of Mrs Major Darling) and Dr Morton Grinnell, a prominent society and club man of New York, were married yesterday morning at half-past 10 in the Assembly Hall at the Presidio.

If there is any truth in the old adage, “Happy is the bride the sun shines on,” surely Dr Grinnell’s fair young bride has before her a future of unalloyed happiness.

Old Sol poured forth his warmest and brightest rays and his genial smile was reflected by the many guests assembled to do the young couple honor.

The hall’s decor

Nothing that might add to the imposing and magnificent effect of the affair had been omitted. Assembly Hall, by the aid of pennants and snowy blossoms, was transformed into a veritable bower of beauty. No bizarre effects had been aimed at in the adornment of the ball. Cordons of smilax fell in graceful loops from chandelier to chandelier and draped the walls, caught up at intervals with bunches of long-stemmed white chrysanthemums.

There were flags everywhere. They formed the background of the improvised altar and a glorious arched canopy over head the entire length of the hall. The ensemble formed a stirring picture, as effective as it was beautiful.

The wedding party

At 10:30 o’clock, to the strains of the Presidio band playing the Norwegian wedding march, the bridal party entered the ball and proceeded down the center aisle to the improvised altar. First came the ushers: Walter Dean, Callaghan Byrne, Harry Pringle, George Loughborough, Mr Frazier and Seranus Hastings.

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Following the ushers walked the bridesmaids, Miss Bee Hooper, Miss Marjorie Young, Miss Alice Rutherford, Miss Mary Kip and Miss Emma Spreckels.

Preceding the bride, who entered on the arm of Thomas Madden, an old friend of the family, came the maid of honor, Miss Azalea Keyes. Little Ethel Hastings and Master Hoyt Hastings closed the bridal procession.

The groom and his best man, William Milam Grinnell, met the bride at the altar, where Father Prelato, the white-haired priest of the Presidio, read the solemn words that made the couple man and wife.

MORE: Wedding etiquette: An old-fashioned bridal procession (1893)

During the ceremony, the Presidio band played softly Major Darling’s beautiful composition, “Blessed Dreams.”

After the ceremony, the newly wedded couple took up their station in a dainty and artistically decorated alcove of the hail, where their friends gathered round them and offered their congratulations.

Wedding bells at San Francisco's Presidio (1896)

The breakfast menu

Later, a wedding breakfast was served and the following excellent menu prepared by a caterer was discussed:

California Oysters, half-shell, on ice.
Consomme en tasse. Timbal of Chicken.
Artichoke Forids with Sweetbreads,
Sauce Bernais.
Terrapin ala Maryland. Creme de Menthe Punch
Squabs on Toast, fresh Mushroom Sauce.
Lettuce Salad.
Vienna Bread and Butter Sandwiches.

Marron Ice Cream in cases.
Assorted Cakes. Sorris Cakes. Marron Glace.
Strawberry Glace.
Almonds. Pecans. Fancy Candies.
Weeding Cake in boxes. Bridal Cake.

The bride’s table was handsomely decorated with chryanthemums and violets. In the center of the table was a bank of snowy white chrysanthemums, while scattered in artistic confusion about the board were Bride’s roses and Russian violets.

Vintage wedding book - Something Old

Seated at the bride’s table were the members of the bridal party, and at the second large table. the following most intimate friends of the bride: Miss Bessie Zane, Miss Clementine Kip, Miss Ethel Hooper, Miss Lillian Young, Miss Grace Geiselman, Miss Lizzie Carroll, Miss Jennie Blair, Miss Morris; Lieutenant Hahn, USA; Lieutenant Winston, USA; Lieutenant Gateley, USA; Lieutenant Burgess, USA; Dr Edee, USA; and Lieutenant White, USA.

The rest of the guests were seated at tete-a-tete tables.

Presidio, circa 1888 From the San Francisco Photographs Collection at the Marine Corps Archives and Special Collections
Presidio, circa 1888 – From the San Francisco Photographs Collection at the Marine Corps Archives and Special Collections
The fashions

The gowns of the bridal party, which were most beautiful and elaborate, have already been minutely described in these columns.

Dr Grinnell and his best man were attired in what must be the latest and most approved of New York fashion. They wore the usual frock and gray trousers with a shirt of a delicate pink hue and white collar and white tie. In their buttonhole was a huge white chrysanthemum.

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At 3 o’clock, Mrs Grinnell changed her elaborate bridal outfit for a natty tan tailor gown, and amid a shower of rice, Dr Grincell and his young bride were whirled away. The honeymoon is to be spent at Madrone Villa, Napa County.

ALSO SEE: Vintage & antique bridal gowns from the early 1900s

The wedding gifts

The bridal presents were unusually numerous and gorgeous in the extreme. There was crystal galore, exquisite silver and gold ornaments studded with precious stones.

  • Mrs Huntington sent a magnificent diamond sunburst, the stones of unusual size and purity.
  • Mrs Stanford’s gift to her namesake was a set of seven exquisite pieces of silver, a fruit dish, two cake plates and four bonbonieres. The pieces were of an unusually handsome design of silver lacework, now so fashionable.
  • Mrs Alice Rutherford presented the bride with a gold mesh purse, on the square gold lid of which was set an immense amethyst.
  • Mr Fred Webster sent a crystal decanter with gold rim, studded with amethysts.
  • Mrs S M Wilson’s gift was a ruby glass and silver vase.
  • Mrs Henry Crocker’s present was an exquisite vase of Tiffany glass.
  • Mrs Irvine and Callaghan Byrne sent a pair of elegant bronzes.
  • Miss Alice Boggs’ gift was a Sevres vase.
  • Mrs Peter Donahue and Mrs Martin sent a crystal and silver salad set.
  • Mrs Claus Spreckels presented the bride with some exquisite silver.
  • A unique present was the gift of Miss Lillian Young. It was a belt made of the skin of a rattlesnake that had been killed by Colonel Young.
  • Mrs Colonel J D Fry sent a historical point-lace handkerchief.
  • Thomas Madden’s gift was a butterfly brooch of diamonds, sapphires and rubies.
  • Mrs La Montague, sister of the bride, sent a sapphire and diamond heart.
  • Major Darling presented his step-daughter with an elegant piece of bronze.

There were many other gifts, all equally beautiful and costly.

Dr and Mrs Grinnell will return for a short stay after the honeymoon and then leave for New York, their future home.

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