Double wedding was the affair of the decade
George Schaffer is considered the father of Truckee. He helped start the first sawmill adjacent to town, started the first water system, and supported all of the important public social issues that benefited Truckee.He was also a devoted family man. His wife, Marguerite, raised the girls, and George’s wealth ensured they lacked nothing. That continued all through their young lives, including their weddings.Wedding bellesOn March 28, 1885, the Truckee Republican devoted almost the whole local news page to the double wedding of Susie E. & Flora B. Schaffer. The long anticipated wedding took place at the Odd Fellows Hall, which still stands today, above Piper’s Patisserie.The brides were actually born in Reno, where the Schaffer family spent the worst of the winter storms. They were raised and educated in Truckee, and were loved and respected by the entire town. Two older daughters had already been married. One to Charles Barton, while Susie married younger brother Horace Barton. Flora married Herman Jacobs. Both Barton brothers worked for George Schaffer in his lumber business, and Herman Jacobs was a engineer on the Central Pacific Railroad.The wedding was performed by Rev. L. Ewing of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the only full-time pastor in Truckee at the time. The Schaffers and Bartons were both members in good standing of the Odd Fellows, and the Schaffer daughters were members and officers of Naomi Rebekah Lodge, which was the women’s counterpart to the Odd Fellows.The wedding beginsAs the great number of clocks mixed in with the wedding gifts began to chime 8 p.m., the wedding march began. Master musician and Truckee music teacher Gus Owens played a freshly tuned organ. The first in the wedding party was the large Schaffer family, which took their seats in front of the audience.The bridal party entered, with Susie, the older bride leading, followed by Fred Irish, a Schaffer son-in-law by previous marriage. Bridegroom Horace Barton escorting Emma Schaffer, a bridesmaid, were followed by Flora, the younger bride, escorted by younger brother Henry Schaffer. Bridegroom Herman Jacobs brought up the rear, escorted by Mollie Ellen, daughter of Schaffer’s fellow lumberman Elle Ellen.The styleElegance, refinement and exquisite taste were the hallmarks of the dresses of the brides and bridesmaids. A number of other recently married women also wore their wedding dresses, adding the flavor of royalty. Massive floral designs, bouquets and festons decorated the brightly lit hall.The brides’ dresses were alike. They were handmade of brocaded and plain cream colored satin, were tight fitting, and adorned in front with cream lace, with white lilies on the left shoulder. The bottoms were finished with fancy saw-toothed points. The necks were low cut, with silk blond filling. The veil contained rosettes of lace and more cream colored satin. Long white gloves and cream colored kid slippers completed the elegance.The ceremony was fairly brief, performed by Rev. Ewing in his normal faultless manner. The rings were exchanged and a short benediction was given. Due to the crowded hall, congratulations were short but hearty, and fervent good wishes were expressed. The exit procession moved orderly and marched en masse down the street to The Sherritt House.The receptionThe Sherritt House was the largest hotel on Front Street, and contained the biggest dining room. Three long tables were extended the length of the room, with the bridal party and the families filling the center. Two grand pyramids of flowers, with a profusion of bouquets decorated the center table.The twin wedding cakes defied description, having been designed and made in Sacramento, with very careful shipping on the railroad up the mountain. Two doves formed the crowning ornamentation. Separate grooms cakes were decorated with hearts and hands. Small white boxes were given to guests, each containing a piece of each cake.Even as large as the dining room was, the room filled and emptied three times before all had had a chance to partake in the reception. The feast was a magnificent three-course meal of meat and poultry, fruits and vegetables, and of course unlimited cake. Wine and champagne was provided in unlimited quantities. Toasts by the dozens were given to the health of the newlyweds. Eloquent speeches were also made by such Truckee men as school Principal S.A. Bulfinch, state Assemblyman J.L. Lewison, and other prominent Truckee citizens.The grand ballThose guests who were waiting for or had finished the banquet were treated to entertainment at he Odd Fellows Hall. When all had feasted, Hurd’s Hall, above the Capital Saloon, opened for a grand ball. The Truckee String Band consisting of Messrs. Schubert, Millikin, LaPierre, and Love discoursed excellent music for all to dance to until dawn. Mr. and Mrs. Schaffer danced and hosted the ball until the last guest staggered out well after dawn.Shortly after midnight the newlywed couples were escorted to their rooms at John Moody’s Truckee Hotel, across the railroad tracks. After the wedding, honeymoons were taken to San Francisco. Both couples would live happily in Truckee for several years, with the Bartons living at Schaffer’s Mill during the summer and in both Truckee and Reno during the winter. For a time, the Jacobs would go where the railroad would send him, up and down the west coast. By 1890 he was the engineer on George Schaffer’s logging railroad along Martis Creek.A pile of gifts The wedding gift list consisted of more than 150 different gifts. Truckee citizens spent lavishly on the newlyweds. The Republican listed all of the gifts, which consisted of everything necessary to set up housekeeping for the two households.Truckee clothing merchant J. A. Adolph and family presented a handsome bronze mantle clock, silverware and a glass cake basket to each couple. Mr. and Mrs Charles Barton gave silver sets in satin lined case. Dr. and Mrs William Curless gave each a glass fruit dish. Mr. and Mrs Henry L. Day gave a fine china water pitcher. The combined Giffen family gave a superb silver mounted double pickle castor, a handsome water pitcher and fancy teapot, a fine standing lamp, an English decorated fancy tea set.Merchant and Assemblyman J.L. Lewison gave each a magnificent ebony clock; the Marzens gave each silverware and serving spoons. The Charles McGlashan family presented silver and gold castors; Mr. and Mrs John Moody an engraved silver and gold lined goblet; George and Warren Richardson presented each a set of silver and gold elegant goblets; Mr. and Mrs George Schaffer gave each a handful of $20 gold pieces.The list went on, as did the memories of the biggest social event of the decade. While weddings were common, they were usually a small quiet affairs, but of course since the Schaffers were among the Truckee elite, this was a grand affair.Gordon Richards is the research historian for the Truckee Donner Historical Society. Comments and history information are always welcome. Visit the Truckee Donner Historical Society Web site at truckeehistory.tripod.com. The e-mail address is email@example.com. You may leave a message at 582-0893.
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