They weren't exactly the weddings of the century, no one or two weddings are except to the couples themselves. But, when Dena Baum married Emanuel Dreyer and her sister, Blanche Alexandria Baum, took the hand of Junius Schiff in marriage, they were the largest weddings ever held in Laurens County. On this Valentine's Day, let's turn back the clock more than a century of ago and took a look at what truly glamorous weddings used to be about.
Dena Baum was the first of the daughters of Napoleon Bonaparte Baum and Louise Kohn Baum to get married in Dublin. Being of the Jewish faith, there were no synagogues in Dublin for the Baum girls to get married in. Misses Baum chose the secular venue of the Laurens County Courthouse. The brides' father was one of the city's leading merchants and public-spirited citizens at the turn of the 20th Century. Their mother was a Washington, D.C. socialite of sorts. Her father, Phillip Kohn, was once the architect of the Capitol. Mrs. Baum was in attendance at Ford's Theater on the night when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.
It was a warm night on the 7th of January in 1903. Nearly 800 guests from around the city and around the state were filing into the courthouse hoping to get a good seat in the crowded courtroom. For the first time in the history of the county a couple would be married according to the rites of the Jewish religion. Newspaper writers billed it as "the largest ever witnessed in this section of Georgia."
The courtroom was elegantly decorated with evergreen and flowers as to disguise the normal use of the auditorium. A canopy, draped with sheer white cloth and bamboo vines, was erected in front of the judge's bench.
To get the guests into the mood, Professor Carl Leake led his orchestra featuring musical selections from the opera, "Martha." Mrs. T.H. Smith, Mrs. Carl Leake, S.M. Gibson and C.H. Kittrell sang the wedding march as the bridal party approached Rabbi Isaac C. Marcuson and the groom, Emanuel Dreyer, the junior partner of the successful retail grocery firm of Brandon and Dreyer, and his best man, Morriel Elkins.
Dena's younger sisters, Jeanette and Helen, served as ribbon girls. Adeline Baum, the maid of honor, preceded the bride and their father down the aisle to join the ushers dressed in tuxedos and the attendants, beautifully attired in satin dresses.
The beautiful and impressive, yet longer than usual ceremony, lasted well into the late hours of the evening. After the nuptials, the couple, the wedding party and their guests walked across the courthouse lawn to the Baum house on the northeast corner of the square.
After a wonderful honeymoon in Florida, the Dreyers returned to Dublin, all the more wealthy than when they left. With hundreds of gifts in hand along with a reported thousand dollars in gold, the Dreyers were ready to begin their dream life.
A more traditional June wedding took place at the courthouse on June 12, 1907. It was a perfect late spring day with fair skies and an ideal room temperature at 9:00 in the evening. Once again, there was an overflow crowd of friends and family pressed into the Laurens County courtroom. This time, the groom, Junius Schiff, was not as well known, but was fortuitously brought to Dublin to take a position as the floor manager of the Sam Weischelbaum Company, in which the Baum family held an interest.
Following the plans of her sister's wedding, an orchestra of family friends were on hand to play as the bridal party came down the aisle. For all of you wedding planners, a reporter described the auditorium, "From the door to the altar was laid with white crash cloth. A profusion of cut flowers, palms, ferns and pot plants was used in the decoration. The stand in back of the altar was draped with white ribbon and ferns, and on each were suspended the letter 'B' and 'S." Between the letters was a large heart made of ferns and cut flowers. Two large arches spanned the entrance. These were draped with white ribbon and ferns. From the altar was suspended a canopy studded with lights and draped with white ribbon and cut flowers. From this canopy over the bride and groom was suspended a large bell made of red and white roses.
Just as she had before, sister Adeline Baum, gowned in a lace robe and who would never marry herself, served as the maid of honor. Leo Weiss was the groom's best man. The groomsmen wore continental evening suits, while the bride's maids wore white lingerie chiffon dresses and carried white flowers.
After Rabbi David Marx of Atlanta presented the newlyweds, they walked out of the auditorium to the traditional Mendelssohn's Wedding March. Following the ceremony, another lavish reception was held in the Baum home across the square.
And just like it was before, wedding gifts filled the Baum residence. There was enough cut glass, dishes, silverware and serving pieces to entertain party guests for a lifetime. The Schiff's left her home at 2:00 in the morning to catch an afternoon train from Tennille to Savannah. The couple traveled to Norfolk, Virginia where they saw the sights around Old Point Comfort, Hampton, and Portsmouth. They left the Old Dominion and traveled to New York City, where after a short visit, traveled up the Hudson River to Niagra Falls, a common honeymoon destination of the day and in Dena's words, "the prettiest sight we saw." On their return home, the Schiffs toured Philadelphia, Washington and visited with the groom's parents in Atlanta before returning home after their twenty-five-day honeymoon tour. They would enjoy a marriage of fifty-five years.
Junius Schiff died on February 17, 1963. Dena died on May 12, 1972. Tragically, Emanuel Dreyer took his own life on May 29, 1923. Dena died on March 15, 1947. They are buried in the family plot in Section W of Northview Cemetery in Dublin.
Over the last century, weddings have changed dramatically. In some cases, they haven't changed at all. So, on this Valentine's Day, let me wish a happy life to all of those who love and who are loved by someone. Treasure all the days you have after you say your vows. In the case of the Baum sisters, one marriage lasted a lifetime while the other was tragically cut short.