Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wedding Wednesday - Blushing Belleville, IL Bride & Dashing Groom

This beautiful bride and her handsome groom had their wedding photograph taken in Belleville, IL by photographer Fred B. Merker or possibly his brother Charles who worked for him.  The bride's dress is stunning with the tiers of lace down the skirt and the style of the high neckline is quite unusual as well.  Maybe is just me, but it almost makes her head look too large for her body!  Her bridal bonnet is gorgeous with a large lacy bow and a flowery sprig in the front.  It also has trailing vines that were very popular in the early 1900's.  She is not holding a corsage but does have what appears to be a small book in her hand, perhaps a prayer book.

The groom is extremely handsome in a dark three piece suit with long tails.  He has a white bow tie and his boutonniere matches the sprig of flowers on the front of her bridal bonnet.  I do not like his body language with the way he is holding his arm - it almost appears as if he is pulling away from her. 

Unfortunately, the couple is unidentified  and the cabinet card has been trimmed on all four sides, most likely to fit into an album or frame.  Due to the embossed, foil stamped photographer's mark on the bottom of the card - note the monogram in the middle - I am adjusting the date this photo was taken to around 1896.  

The photographer, Fred B. Merker, was born 3 Mar 1851 in Belleville, St. Clair, IL to German immigrants, Phillip and Elizabeth (Rouscolb) Merker.  The parents were married in St. Clair County on 28 Jan 1841, the father a farmer.  A year before Fred's birth in the 1850 Turkey Hill, St. Clair County census, Philip aged 32 and Elizabeth aged 25 were living with their children George 8, Louis 6, and Charles 3.  Another son William was born about 1853 and Phillip died before 1860 leaving Elizabeth to raise her children alone.  I found most of the Merkers through the rest of the censuses up until 1930. Elizabeth was last found in the 1900 census.

Fred Merker was a photographer by 1880 (age 28) and on 3 Oct 1883 married Elenora Susan Dunn.  They had one child Hazel born about 1885.  He operated his studio in Belleville until at least 1910. The 1891 City Directory listed his studio address as 25 East Main. Note on the photo (left) that brother Charles was a photographer at his studio, George was a constable, Louis a tollgate keeper, and William was secretary and treasurer of the Belleville Carriage Works. Sometime before 1920 Fred and Elenora retired to West Palm Beach, FL. He died in FL on 27 Feb 1930 and is buried at Green Mount Protestant Cemetery in St. Clair County, IL.


2.  Find-A-Grave
3.  Illinois Statewide Marriage Index


  1. Is the white wedding gown a sign of wealth or simply the style of the day?

    1. I believe white wedding gowns were more rare so probably were a sign of wealth. More often, especially before 1900, you see dark colored gowns that could be reused for practical reasons.

  2. This is a wonderful photograph. Many interesting details. I like the flowers pinned on his jacket.

  3. What a beautiful photo. I have thousands of orphan photos, as well. I'm also from Belleville, so have quite a few by this photographer. Thank you for the information on Merkel. It helped me to date some of my photos. :)

  4. So beautiful!! My husband and I just bought an 1887 Victorian in Belleville to rehab, and we're doing research on the original family. I SO wish there was a way to find out who is in this photo... I can't seem to track down any pictures of the family. This is right in line with the wedding dates of some of the children. Anyway, if you want more info, I have a blog at Thanks for sharing this! :D


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...