Tuesday, September 16, 2008

An Irish Wedding

Mary “Mayme” Aloysius (Moran) McDonald

by David Parmer

Spring 1912
The morning of Tuesday, May 28th 1912 promised to be a nice day. Spring breezes wafted the deep earthy smells of freshly plowed gardens across Flint Bluff in Orlando and through the open windows of St. Michael’s Catholic Church. The many orchards cultivated around Orlando added a sweet smell of apple blossoms to the air, providing a perfect aura for the important event about to happen on this perfect day.

Father Thomas Quirk
Father Quirk may have ridden his trusty saddle horse to Orlando on Monday for the nuptials. It was a pleasant ride from Loveberry to Orlando and he enjoyed the countryside and passing through the farms of the men and women who sat in the pews of St. Bridget’s and St. Michael’s. And, there was nothing like a wedding, especially of a lassie from a faithful Irish family such as the Moran family. As he rode along the peaceful hills, perhaps the priest gave thought to the marriage ceremony of another bride, Catherine Moran, sister of the current bride-to-be, who had married James Carney a dozen years before at the old St. Michael’s church on Flesher’s Run. Or perhaps he was thinking that if he met another rider he might accept a challenge to determine whose horse was faster. Whatever his thoughts, they were most likely underscored by the joy of the impending wedding.

St Michael’s
Perched on Flint Bluff overlooking Orlando on a plot of two and one-half acres, St. Michael’s stood majestic; a beautiful situation for a church. It was a handsome church, fifty-six long by thirty wide, well constructed of hardwood frame siding, similarly built like St. Bernard’s at Loveberry. The walls were an impressive fourteen feet high and the roof was constructed of slate. The inside of the church had two rows of pews, each nearly ten feet wide, facing the sanctuary, the area in front where Fr. Quirk celebrated the mass. That sanctuary area was the width of the church and ten feet deep. Father Quirk had contracted for the construction of the sanctuary a half-dozen years before, and recalled its dedication, which was so well attended that the newly-built church could not hold all of the attendees. Because of the overflow crowd, Bishop Donahue moved the dedication outside so everyone could participate in the service.

The wedding of Mayme Moran and Michael McDonald would not draw such an overflowing crowd as the dedication of the church in 1907, but the well-wishers would fill the church to capacity. As Father Quirk was aware, the outside grounds of the church could well hold a wedding party for photographs to preserve the occasion for posterity. Surely on the beautiful day of May 28, 1912, there would be a photographer present.

Guest Arrivals and Well-Wishers
The early train from Burnsville brought Morans, Feeneys, and Griffins. The train from Weston brought McDonalds, and more Morans. Buggies from Clover Fork, Fleshers Run, and Three Lick brought Feeneys, Tulleys, Carneys, Greenes, and other Catholic families and friends. The Dolans and Rushes, and bachelor Mike Moran, brother of the bride-to-be, could walk to the church on the hill.
Stylish Hats a Must
Business was good for Lizzie Tulley, Orlando’s milliner, and sales were also good in Burnsville, the neighboring town to the west, for Ella Griffin, hat maker extraordinaire. This had been the era of extraordinary, huge hats, adorned with imagination, artful creativity and skill. These two skillful fashioners of ladies hats and dress attire had been busy for several days, preparing for the wedding of an Orlando kinswoman, Mayme Moran. The circulation of women’s magazines, such as McCall’s, in rural areas provided information about hat and dress styles of the day and the ladies of Orlando and Burnsville could dress as fashionably as ladies in New York or Chicago. Ladies’ hats were more squat this year, in 1912, and the brims were not quite so wide, and the Braxton County milliners had the “look” down pat.

Flowing White Dresses
In the fashion magazines white was a predominant color at a wedding in 1912. The fashions of the day mandated floor length cotton or light-weight linen skirts, layered beneath with petticoats, and connected by fasteners to boned, long sleeved, high necked bodices. White gloves, umbrellas and high-topped button shoes completed the ensemble.

Ladies in flowing white dresses and wide brimmed, beribboned hats came into Orlando by train and carriage, escorted by fine-hatted and suited gentlemen, and as the festooned wedding party ascended Flint Bluff toward St. Michael’s, the depot hangers-on and the loafers on the Oldaker, Doc Means, and Rachel Kidd store porches were treated to quite a sight. It must have been a pagent to the mostly Protestant community whose marriage ceremonies were typically performed by the preacher in the bride's home, never in the church. And compared to the simple service of the Protestant tradition, to any little boy with enough courage to peek in the church window the Roman Catholic wedding with the celebration of mass must have seemed like an exotic, mysterious ritual being performed in a magic language.

The Wedding
The officiating priest, Father Quirk, had performed many weddings during his tenure as parish priest for St. Michael’s, St. Bridget’s and St. Bernard’s and was well acquainted with the families of the bride and groom. The wedding of twenty-seven-year-old Mary “Mayme” Moran to thirty-six-year-old Michael McDonald was blessed with a beautiful day, the most reverent of priests, and the highest prospects of married life.

The Burnsville Kanawha Banner
The bride-to-be’s family were well known, had many friends, and were successful business owners in Burnsville in 1912. On May 29, 1912, Dr. John W. Kidd, a prominent medical doctor, as well as newspaper publisher in Burnsville, reported the marriage of Mayme and Michael.
“Mr. Michael E. McDonald and Miss Mamie A. Moran, daughter of Mrs. Margaret E. Moran of Orlando, were married Tuesday morning at 10:30 at the St. Michael’s Church at Orlando, Reverend Father Quirk of Sand Fork officiating. A large crowd was present to witness the ceremony. We extend our congratulations to the happy couple and wish them a prosperous journey through life.”

The Bride
Mary Aloysius Moran, or “Mayme”, was the second and last daughter of Margaret Ellen (Griffin) Moran and the late John Moran, who had died three years earlier. She was born in Orlando in 1884, the fifth of twelve children, the first nine of who were born in the family’s original log home on Grass Run. When Mayme was eleven her father and his older sons constructed the ten-room, two-story house which was Mayme’s home until the day of her marriage to Edward McDonald.

Right: Mayme with her brothers and sister and their mom, Margaret Ellen (Griffin) Moran.
Left to right: Jim, Mike, Kate, Mayme, Tom Charley Pete, Bill, Martin and Pat.

Mayme and her older sister, Catherine, and their mother Margaret were the only females of the family. Consequently, Mayme was kept busy with domestic and outside chores when she was growing up on Grass Run. A family of fourteen requires a great deal of feeding and washing and mending, tasks generally undertaken by the females of the household. So, in an energetic family, unacquainted with slothfulness, Mayme knew the value of hard work and did her share in the Moran home. Mayme’s sister Catherine married in 1900 when she was twenty-one. Consequently, for the next twelve years Mayme and her mother were left to perform the household chores for the large Moran family.

Married Life
Before their marriage, Michael McDonald, the son of Michael and Mary (White) McDonald, had a farm on Canoe Run and the newly-weds moved to this residence. Michael and Mayme continued farming until around 1917 when Michael began oil and gas field work, an occupation in which several of Mayme’s brothers were engaged. Michael and Mayme left the farm about that time and moved to a residence in Weston at 231 Olive Street where they made their permanent home. Michael became a successful drilling contractor in the oil and gas industry. John Michael Moran believes that his father, Mike Moran of Orlando, and his uncle Mike McDonald had some joint interests in the oil and gas drilling business.

Mike Moran of Orlando was in his fifties when he married and had been widowed when his four children were in their teenage years and younger. Mike recognized that his children needed a woman’s touch that he couldn’t provide. Consequently, his sister Mayme graciously opened her home to her nephew John Michael Moran of Orlando. John Michael lived with his Aunt Mayme for three years while attending St. Patrick’s High School in Weston.

John Michael recalls his uncle Mike McDonald as a very nice man, easy going and never excited. “Uncle Mike was a very good violin player who could play anything,” John said, and remembers his dad saying that Mike McDonald had “the best bow of any musician he knew.” There was lots of entertaining Irish violin music to listen to when he lived with his aunt and uncle. John Michael recalls that often his uncle Mike would play the violin and would be accompanied by his aunt Mayme on the piano. John Michael was also amazed how much energy his aunt Mayme had, because every Sunday she always had lots of company.

Michael and Mayme were the parents of six children, Michael Edward, born 1914; John Raymond, born 1915; Mary Catherine, born 1917; James Francis, born 1919; Charles Bernard, born 1921; and Robert William, born and died 1923.

The oldest child, Michael Edward, was ordained as a Catholic Priest in 1941, and was affectionately known to his parishioners as “Father Ed.” John Raymond was a long-time employee of the Citizens Bank in Weston and married Agnes Josephine Gissy. Mary Catherine married Matthew Gissy of Weston. James Francis married Wilma Chidester and was a long-time employee of Equitable Gas Company and later with the Commonwealth Gas Company of Richmond, Virginia. Charles Bernard married Alice Prichard of Weston. Charles served as postmaster of Jane Lew.

Requiescat in Pace- Rest in Peace.
Their married life began in Orlando on a lovely morning in the spring of 1912 in St. Michael’s, amidst the bustle of a railroad town and the center of development of oil and gas fields in which Michael would devote the largest part of his life. Mayme devoted her life to her family and to her church. Michael died in 1955 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Clarksburg, and his lovely bride of 1912, Mary “Mayme” Aloysius (Moran) McDonald, passed away in 1960. They were laid to rest in Machpelah Cemetery in Weston.
. . . . .

comment 1 Donna Gloff
In Orlando in the early 1900s, a Roman Catholic wedding was very different from a Methodist Protestant or United Brethren wedding. A protestant wedding would most likely be held in the bride's parents' home, a neighbor's or family member's home, or at the parsonage: the preacher's home. There are even marriage licenses on which the preacher claims he married the couple on the road, in the presence of friends. No photos have surfaced of a Protestant bride in a white gown before the 1950s. While the weddings were not in the church, they were of the church. It is extremely rare to see a wedding performed by a civil official rather than an ordained minister or deacon

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