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Wedding Dress, 1918


This dress was worn by Virginia Palmer Bradfield Ward for her wedding in 1918. It was an exquisite, expensive gown. It remains in remarkably good condition. The overskirt feels like rayon, which may help to explain the excellent condition of the piece. Virginia Palmer Bradfield Ward was born 1897 in Grand Rapids, MI. She was born in to one of Michigan's oldest mining families.Her great grandfather, Charles Henry Palmer, was a pioneer investor and developer of mines and railroads in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Her grandfather, Charles Henry Palmer, Jr. continued to run his father's businesses and expanded them, with mines in Montana, Colorado, and Mexico. Her mother, Elizabeth Virginia Palmer Bradfield, continued to look after her family's estate as well as becoming an accomplished sculptress. Her father was Thomas Parks Bradfield, a graduate of University of Michigan and a lawyer. In 1918, Virginia married Harold Lee Ward of Pontiac, MI. Mr. Ward was the grandson of David Ward, one of Michigan's first lumber barons. In a letter to his daughters on his and Virginia's 50th wedding anniversary, Harold Lee Ward described their wedding in detail. He recalls Virginia and her mother going to New York to find her wedding dress, and describes her as looking "simply beautiful" in it on their wedding day. After the wedding, the newlyweds traveled to California where Harold was assigned as a flying cadet with the Army Signal Corps Aviation Section. After some time in California, the Wards returned to live in Pontiac and had three daughters, Virginia Palmer Ward Golding, Elizabeth Palmer Ward DeVine and Ann Ward Spaeth.

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