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Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Florence Mason’s 1920’s Wedding - Sepia Saturday

This week’s Sepia Saturday Prompt is a 1928 wedding photograph of a seated bride Florence Timms. 

I am featuring another Florence in another 1920’s wedding between Florence Mason who married Charles Urstadt in Jamesburg, New Jersey in 1921.

 Florence is seated on a chair decorated with greenery  and wearing  such a distinctive  headdress ,that I wondered if it had any links to Charles' German background. And what huge bouquets!   Her bridesmaids were her older sisters Alice and Jenny.  

Florence Adelaie Mason (1898-1965) was my grandfather's cousin on his mother's side and I have to thank my  American third cousin, Bonny (Florence's granddaughter) who discovered my blog and made contact with the photographs featured here.

Florence was the youngest of 11 children of John Mason and Alice Rawcliffe - sister of my  great grandmother Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe. 

Alice from Hambleton, near Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire  married,  at the age of 19, John Mason and between 1874 and 1886,  they had six English-born children - Robert William, Jane Elizabeth, John Thomas, James Richard, Margaret Alice and George Rawcliffe - all Christian  names connected with their extended family.

It was only a casual browsing on www.familysearch.org that revealed that Alice had died in Jamesburg, Middlesex County, New Jersey.  The first knowledge I had of any of the Rawcliffe family outside Lancashire. 

The New York Passenger Lists online  revealed that John Mason had sailed from Liverpool to Brooklyn, New York, in 1886 followed by Alice, a year later travelling with 6 children aged 1-13 and two pieces of luggage.  What on earth was life like for them all  on he voyage?   If only I could discover why they took this step of adventure from a small Lancashire community to the teeming streets of Brooklyn New York, 

Between 1888 and 1898, John and Alice had a further five children, born in the USA - Arthur Valentine (born appropriately 14th February), Harold Arthur Victor, Lillian Eveline, Bessie Irene and the youngest Florence Adelaide. Sadly Arthur, Bessie and Lillian all died in infancy - could this be due to the crowded apartment block living conditions   At some point after 1898,  The family later moved from Brooklyn, New York, across the river to Jamesburg, Middlesex County, New Jersey.

So Florence. born 1898  was part of  a large family of eight surviving children (three girls and five boys) , with her eldest sister Jane Elizabeth 23 years older.   Below  is the earliest photograph of her with her father.  She looks to be about 7 years old, so taken c. 1905 -  and what a magnificent hat for a wee girl - and her skirts look surprisingly short for the period.

  was delighted to get from Bonny  this larger family group photograph (below)  showing all eight children of Alice and James Mason, with Florence in the dark dress sitting at the front. Alice died in 1930 and James seven  years later, both buried in Fernwood Cemetery, Jamesburg.  

Standing - Robert and James 
Middle Row - Thomas (John Thomas), Jenny (Jane Elizabeth), Mother Alice, Father John, Harry

Bottom Row  -  Alice (Margaret Alice), Florence,and George 

Florence and Charles on their wedding day  

Below - the home in Jamesburg, New Jersey  where Florence and Charles lived all their married life and raised their six children - Ruth Alice, Charles Melrford,  Beulah,  William John Henry, Donald Wesley and Curtis Rawcliffe.   Charles senior  lived there until his death at  the age 99.
happy photograph of Florence surrounded by her grandchildren.  

Granddaughter, Bonny recalls 
"She was a beautiful young lady and the sweetest grandmother.  She never worked [outside the home], because she had six children, and that was enough work.  She made so much by hand, she was a good seamstress - I guess she had to be with all those kids to make clothes for. She was also an excellent cook and did  so much  canning. She was very active in her Methodist Church which  was across the street from her house".
Florence died in 1965 aged 67.
With thanks to my third cousin Bonny in New Jersey 
for allowing me to feature her memories and family photographs. 
 Based on a post first written in 2014 

Sepia Saturday gives an opportunity for genealogy bloggers  
to share their family history and memories through photographs.

Click HERE to find further tales from Sepia Saturday bloggers.


  1. I loved seeing Florence as a bride and as a grandmother! Her pose in the chair is so like the prompt Florence, except your Florence looks much happier. What a great headdress and such gorgeous flowers! The photographer must have asked them to tilt their heads slightly, in the group shot. It made a more interesting photo I think than if everyone stared straight into the camera.

    1. Thank you, Helen, for your kind comment.

  2. Weddings of that period are so interesting - the headdress, the huge bouquets. I would love to see the mechanism and workings behind the bouquet that made them possible. I love the last photo of Florence with her grandchildren. She does look proud of them.

    1. Thank you, Wendy, for your comment. I wish I knew more about Florence’s style of headdress.

  3. That's my mom standing directly to Florence's right in the picture of Florence with her grandchildren! I remember going to that house in Jamesburg as a child - there was a small fancy parlor in the front that we never went in, and the only bathroom was upstairs - funny the things we remember!

    1. I was delighted to get your comment and make contact with a distant cousin. Please do email me with your details - my address is at the top of my blog page. I look forward to hearing from you.

  4. So your Florence was married either just prior to, or during the 1920s and there are the short dresses, fancy headdress, and huge bouquets just as I found online researching for my post, so perhaps that particular ensemble style is an American thing after all? I tried looking up that idea, but couldn't come up with a definitive answer unfortunately. I like their home in Jamesburg. I wonder if it was painted blue with white trim at the time they lived in it? It would be too bad if not as it looks quite charming that way.

  5. Bravo! A perfect match and wonderful story as well. Blogging can be very rewarding when the internet builds new connections.

  6. Interesting story and wonderful photos. You are so fortunate to have made contact with a cousin who shared them. I am wondering if Florence's parents left England in the late 1800s for the same reason my Welsh great-grandfather Frank Owen left Wales -- a population explosion that created economic stress and a dearth of jobs. Whatever the reason, the family's NJ home was lovely, and Florence made a beautiful bride.

  7. Such a great post...interesting story line, fantastic sharing of family photos complete with names (and dates) that glues it all together. And how wonderful that you've got another cousin connection!

  8. Thank you to everyone for your kind comments. Yes, this was one of the great success stories of my blog in being seen by my unknown American third cousin and I am very grateful for the information and photographs in giving such a boost to my FH. We still keep in touch.


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