One hundred seventy years ago yesterday, a significant Brodhead marital union took place in Pike County, Pennsylvania, in the presence of family and, perhaps, some close friends—I say significant because had it not occurred, I would not be writing this blog, and many of you would not be reading it!
On 1 January 1846, a Thursday, vibrant and young 22-year-olds Andrew Jackson Brodhead and Ophelia Easton were waking up as man and wife. They’d just celebrated a family New Year’s Eve wedding the night before, with parents Garret and Cornelia (Dingman) Brodhead, and Charlotte Newman Easton* present, and here they were embarking on Day 1 of their 59-year marriage. They could not have known anything of what the future held for them—not the long marriage, the ten healthy children who all survived and thrived well into adulthood, the ups and downs that any marriage brings, Andrew’s zig-zagging career, and the moves they were to make in life–from the Bushkill, Pennsylvania area, to East Mauch Chunk (present-day Jim Thorpe, PA), and to Flemington, New Jersey–nor the 35 grandchildren and their myriad descendants (two great big thumbs up there). (Many of the aforementioned details were documented in a previous post.)
What was the weather like when they woke up on 1 January 1846? Well, probably cold and probably snowy. Apparently, they’d just endured a brutal cold December; according to p. 71 of The Literary Record and Journal of the Linnaean Association of Pennsylvania College (pub. by The Association, 1846): “The month of December 1845 was remarkable for the severity of its cold On the first day there was a fall of snow of the depth of nine inches and at various other times during the progress of the month there were others which increased the total amount to twenty-three inches and a half from the very commencement the temperature was greatly reduced and it continued so with but little abatement to the close of the month.”
I am extremely grateful to James and Barbara Brodhead for sharing with me the below images of Andrew & Ophelia as a young couple. Prior to seeing these images, I’d only viewed the pair as a couple in old age. It’s delightful to see them in their much younger years, and it seems highly plausible that these photos were taken specifically to mark the occasion of their marriage. The clothing matches the fashions of that era; long ago, I wrote a post on wedding traditions in which I mentioned that before Queen Victoria started the trend of the white wedding dress, brides wore their “best dress,” so this may well have been Ophelia’s “best dress.”
It’s fun to think about the planning that commenced once Andrew and Ophelia were engaged. I imagine them thinking about when to have their wedding and deciding to make it New Year’s Eve so they could start their marriage off on such a festive occasion—with the added bonus of never having to worry about forgetting their anniversary ;-). I’ve always thought that Andrew (in his senior picture) had such a merry twinkle in his eyes—perhaps the idea of a holiday wedding was his.
It’s hard for me to imagine Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Jackson Brodhead at a time in their lives when they did not have any children—the fleeting moment in their marriage that lasted all of 11 months and 28 days. So the year 1846 must have been an especially carefree and contented time. And, all these years later, I look back and can’t help but feel very happy for them. Happy 2016, all!
*Calvin Easton died in 1826.