Sunday, February 7, 2016

Photo of the Week: McKahan Wedding, Elm Street, Waynesburg, PA

(By Candice Buchanan, Greene Connections Archivist)

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Valentine's Day is always a proper occasion to look back at the ancestral couples in the family tree. We love to learn and share stories of how they met, courted, married, and lived.


A previous article, "Love Stories in Shades of Greene," captures an assortment of favorite moments shared through local research and family storytelling. To build on that theme, this time, we will delve into one of the best Keywords used in our Photo Archives to find images of couples posed together - "Wedding." Over 60 Greene County, Pennsylvania-connected images in the project are featured under this Keyword, and it is fun to scroll through and view the various families highlighted on their special day from the Civil War era through World War II.

Wedding photos are wonderful because adding a date and a story to accompany the picture is often easy to do.

In Greene County, marriage records were not kept officially until Pennsylvania began to require licenses in 1885. From this date forward, however, you can visit the Clerk of Courts office at the Greene County Courthouse to view the official documents related to your ancestors' wedding. FamilySearch.org has even digitized their microfilm of the earliest of these records, making them accessible for FREE online not only for Greene, but all Pennsylvania counties. Dates of the available digital records vary, but are well worth checking before you go to the courthouse. Visit FamilySearch's Pennsylvania, County Marriages collection to see these records. (This link is also on the Greene Connections Resources tab.)

In addition to the official record, and for weddings prior to 1885, many local newspapers ran marriage announcements with details of the event. These can be amazing and even entertaining. The benefit of Greene County's small town culture is that many of our ancestors made the paper, so don't pre-judge whether your ancestral couple were newsworthy or not. The Cornerstone Genealogical Society in Waynesburg has local newspaper microfilm. Links to online newspapers for our area can also be found on the Resources tab. Based on the wedding date, determine which newspapers were in print and if they were daily or weekly. Begin with the issue right after the wedding and check for several issues in case it took awhile for the article to run. Look not only under the obvious "Marriage Announcements" headline, but also in any areas for neighborhood news. Often you will see where someone came into town or left town to attend the wedding and that would make local news too. This can reveal where relatives lived and all kinds of other fun trivia.

Of special note, particularly for very early marriages that predate official records or consistent newspaper microfilm, try looking up anniversary announcements in later newspapers too, especially for couples who enjoyed celebrating their 50th or 60th wedding anniversary. Often family parties held on these occasions made the news, sometimes including not only details about the actual wedding day, but even an old photo!

One of the benefits to finding the marriage announcement is that it is likely to identify the wedding party. A bride and groom are easy to pick out in wedding pictures, but what about their attendants? The newspaper often details the ladies' dresses and flowers, names each role, and provides other notes that will help you pick out the people in your pictures. The article, and perhaps the official record too, is also likely to tell you where the wedding took place, allowing you to specifically identify interior and exterior locations in your photos.

McKahan Wedding, Elm Street, Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania


Leah Garland (McKahan) Carothers [1]
From our Photo Archives here is an example of research applied to some lovely 1920s wedding photos from the Nancy Laureanne (Throckmorton) Meighen Series photographs now archived as a part of the Cornerstone Genealogical Society Collection.

Nancy Laureanne (Throckmorton) Meighen, who lovingly preserved these photos, was not the bride, but a bridesmaid in these pictures, as we learn from the newspaper announcement below. Her Waynesburg College classmate, Leah Garland McKahan, was the bride. Both girls graduated with the Class of 1922 and their senior portraits can be viewed in the Waynesburg University Museum Collection for comparison (see Leah / see Nancy).

The groom was Edward Vernon Carothers Jr., from Allegheny County, who contributed just one groomsman to the bridal party. There marriage took place 22 June 1929 and was recorded at the Greene County Courthouse.[2]

In a case such as this, it is possible that Edward's hometown paper may have run an article too and that would be a good area for further research. Leah was, of course, the local connection to the announcement in the Democrat Messenger, that appeared not quite a week after the nuptials, on 28 June 1929:

"A prettily appointed home wedding was solemnized Saturday afternoon, June 22, at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. John D. McKahan, corner of Washington and Elm streets, when their daughter, Miss Leah Garland McKahan, became the bride of Edward Vernon Carothers, Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Vernon Carothers, of Crafton. The marriage service was read by Dr. James Edgar Wilson, pastor of the First Presbyterian church of Waynesburg, in the presence of members of the two families and several guests. The McKahan home was beautifully decorated with palms, cibotium, ferns, and summer garden flowers. Just preceding the ceremony Miss Frances Irwin sand 'I Love You Truly,' accompanied at the piano by Mrs. Harry F. Baily. The bride, who was given in marriage by her father, wore a gown of ivory satin fashioned with tight-fitting sleeves and an uneven hemline. Her tulle veil was arranged with a coronet of rose point lace caught with orange blossoms. She carried a sheaf of Calla lilies. Her attendants were her sisters, Mrs. Clarence F. Long and Miss Mary Sanford McKahan, and Mrs. Charles P. Meighen. They wore gowns of shell pink and coral, and carried bouquets of pink roses and delphinium. William Douglas Carothers, of Pittsburgh, brother of the bridgegroom, was best man. A reception supplemented the ceremony. The bride is one of Waynesburg's popular young women and is prominent in social circles. She is a graduate of Waynesburg College, and is a member of Theta Pi Sigma sorority and of the Junior League. For the past few years she has been librarian at Waynesburg College. Mr. Carothers is a well known young banker. He attended the school of banking and finance of the University of Pittsburgh and for the past six years has been connected with the Colonial Trust Company, of Pittsburgh. Following the reception in their honor, Mr. and Mrs. Carothers left on a motor trip. In the fall they will be at home in Pittsburgh."[3]


Carothers-McKahan wedding on 22 June 1929, pictured [Left-Right]: Mary Sanford McKahan, Laura (McKahan) Long, Leah Garland (McKahan) (Carothers) Ellenberger [bride], Dr. James Edgar Wilson [pastor of the First Presbyterian church of Waynesburg], Edward Vernon Carothers, Jr. [groom], William Douglas Carothers [best man], Nancy Laureanne (Throckmorton) Meighen [4]

Leah was wed from the home of her parents, John D. and Caroline (Helphenstine) McKahan, on the corner of Washington and Elm Streets in Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania. The precise location is wonderfully described in the news announcement and further embellished here by a circa 1930, family photo including the newlyweds in front of that very house. This image comes from the Greene County Historical Society Collection.

John D. and Caroline (Helphenstine) McKahan family home on the corner of Washington and Elm Streets in Waynesburg, Pa. Pictured [Left-Right]: STANDING - John D. McKahan and his wife, Caroline (Helphenstine) McKahan, with their daughter Laura (McKahan) Long; SEATED - Edward Vernon Carothers Jr. and his wife, Leah Garland (McKahan) Carothers. [5]

This Valentine's Day remember and honor those ancestral love stories, we would not be here without them!

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[1] Item # CGSP_AN001_0029Nancy Laureanne (Throckmorton) Meighen Series, Cornerstone Genealogical Society Collection, Greene County, Pennsylvania Archives Project (www.GreeneConnections.com).

[2] Greene County, Pennsylvania, 21: 21, Carothers-McKahan, 1929; County Clerk's Office, Courthouse, Waynesburg.

[3] Carothers-McKahan marriage announcement, Democrat Messenger, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 28 June 1929, page 5, column 5.

[4] Item # CGSP_AN001_0028Nancy Laureanne (Throckmorton) Meighen Series, Cornerstone Genealogical Society Collection, Greene County, Pennsylvania Archives Project (www.GreeneConnections.com).

[5] Item # GCHS-AN027-0001-0110, Greene County Historical Society Collection, Greene County, Pennsylvania Archives Project (www.GreeneConnections.com).

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