Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

This family really must have had some economic means, because this bride is wearing white. We know that white dresses were a symbol of wealth because only the wealthy could A) afford a dress they would wear only one time and B) have the means to keep it clean. The numerous yards of white fabric and lace required for a wedding dress were expensive, usually from silk, silk taffeta, organdy, brocade, etc., and if only worn once would be an extravagance in a time of general frugality. Note her incredibly tiny waist! That is some tight lacing. And before you even think of making the comment, women did not have ribs surgically removed to attain the tiny waist. It was a time when people died from what we consider to be common illnesses; the recovery from major surgery was often a fight against raging infection because they didn’t understand surgical sterility as we do today.

I’m having trouble dating the photo from the dress because I have never seen these sleeves on a Victorian dress, though I do not doubt they were popular! Considering our previous photograph that Ray sent us and I posted was by this same photographer and was dated 1899, I’m guessing somewhere in that range. I have no reason to think the boys in the Confirmation photograph were the children of this couple. Frankly, this couple looks too young to be getting married, let alone having children! But it was a different time. I also find it interesting that the groom has what looks like a brush cut hair style. The general fashion for gentlemen in the 1890s was to oil the hair flat and comb it to the side, even in the military. Was this young groom a trend setter?

The photographer is now named Niklas & Piotrowski, but still at 589 Milwaukee Ave, Chicago.

3 thoughts on “Wedded bliss

  1. IntenseGuy says:

    It appears that this photo predates the confirmation boys by at least a year and possibly by as many as 8 or 9 years.

    According to “Chicago photographers, 1847 through 1900 : as listed in Chicago city directories”:

    Niklas and Piotrowsk are listed at the given address from 1891-1893 and not listed in 1894.
    Niklas and Co. are listed in 1894.
    Niklas and Pawloski are listed in 1895 – 1897.
    And back to Niklas and Co. during 1898-1900.

    And believe it or not, Niklas partnered with another man named Kionski in 1893 at another (but nearby) address.


    1. Nancy Hawes says:

      Hi there, I have a photo I wish to include in a book I am writing that bears the insignia of “Niklas & Co 589 Milwaukee Ave. Chicago” the women all have gibson girl hairdos and the photo looks remarkably similar to a family photo taken in 1909…do you have any information that could help me date this photo? I could send you a copy if that would help. Thanks in advance. Nancy


  2. After a summer in the museum, it has become very clear to me that people were much smaller than they are now days. I believe nutrition had much to do with it. This couple seems very small in stature, and too young to get married. I would guess their age at 16 or 17.
    The bride may have designed her own dress..it is lovely:)


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