They Peel Right Merrily

Week 23: #52 Ancestors – Wedding

By Eilene Lyon

Ogden and Mary (Kew) Casterton of England immigrated in 1852, shortly after their marriage. They settled for four years in Illinois, then permanently relocated to Winneshiek County, Iowa, in 1856. In their long marriage, they produced a robust family of ten children.

Casterton family from Bailey v. 2 p. 53
The Casterton family of Highland Township, Winneshiek County, Iowa. (Public domain)

The Casterton holdings grew to 1,300 acres by the time Ogden retired from farming in 1896 and went into banking and other businesses in Decorah. He built one of the finest mansions in that city – he and Mary lived in high style.

Four of the Casterton offspring married into my Halse family tree to one 3rd great-aunt and three 3rd great-uncles. For that reason, I am not directly related to the Castertons, but they loom large in my family history.

Elizabeth Halse and Will O Casterton Wedding - maryo159 on Ancestry
Elizabeth S. Halse and William O. Casterton. (Courtesy of maryo159 at

Elizabeth S. Halse wed the family scion, William O. Casterton, on October 8, 1878. Exactly a year later, Isaac P. Fawcett married the eldest Casterton daughter, Ellen (Nell). The third marriage took place August 30, 1880 when Elizabeth’s brother, Samuel V. Halse, married Emma Jane Casterton.

Ellen (Nell) and Isaac Fawcett wedding photo 8 Oct 1879 - maryo159 - A 6-17-20
Ellen (Nell) Casterton and Isaac P. Fawcett. (Courtesy of maryo159 at

The following story details the fourth wedding: Isaac’s brother, Granville J. Fawcett and Nettie Casterton held their nuptials on December 23, 1885. Undoubtedly the three previous ceremonies had been similar.

Wedding Bells

They peel right merrily in Highland

“A large number of invitations were received by friends of Mr. & Mrs. Ogden Casterton asking them to be present at their residence on December 23, 1885 at 4 p.m. to witness the wedding ceremony of their charming daughter, Miss Nettie to Granville Fawcett. The day being a delightful one, nearly 100 invited guests availed themselves of this opportunity.

“The marriage ceremony of their daughter was performed by the Rev. F. J. Mynard of Decorah. Miss Clara Casterton and Gordon Humphrey were bridesmaid and best man. The bride was attired in a very elegant wedding dress of dark green sateen, with a beautiful wreath of white chrysanthemums in her hair.”

 [A list of gifts and givers followed – see sampling below]

“An hour was spent in congratulations and examining the presents, when supper was announced. ‘Such a supper’ – the writer is incompetent to describe. Suffice to say that a superior one has not been spread to invited guests in Winneshiek County for a long time, if ever.

“Music and singing was next in order. Miss Della Graham presided at the piano, and as the last echo of the singers died away, Lein’s string band struck up ‘Miss Cloud’s Reel’ followed by many other changes which were duly kept time by those who believed dancing no harm, until old ‘Sol’ showed his face in the East, next morning.

“The older sires and dames occupied the parlor and passed the time in social chat and song until 4 a.m. when the worthy hostess announced that beds were ready for those who had come a long way – and after a short repose would feel that they were greatly refreshed if they were getting [tired]. We old ones rested well. But Oh – That old farm bell began to sing out breakfast.

“After breakfast we all participated in a general visit until dinner was announced, where we all did justice to the table, if not to ourselves for the fourth time in twenty-four hours. When all prepared to return to their homes, fully satisfied that they could not have been better used had they been princes instead of ‘pig buyers’ we bade uncle Ogden and aunt Mary ‘goodbye’ – threw some old shoes after the bride and groom, and as we turned into the highway we said ‘God bless the Casterton Mansion.’

“Mr. & Mrs. Fawcett will shortly make their home on their farm in Highland, where the Decorah Republican will make its weekly visit for years to come.”

The bride’s father gave a gift of $1,000 to the couple. Mary Casterton supplied them with a “complete set of household bedding, table linen and knives and forks.” Will and Elizabeth Casterton gave them a set of glass dishes. Isaac and Nell Fawcett also provided dishes – a dinner set. In anticipation of future family, Nettie and Granville also received a large top and “a useful rattle.”

Granville Nettie Fawcett Marraige Cert - maryo159 - A 6-17-20
Granville Fawcett and Nettie Casterton’s marriage certificate. (Courtesy of maryo159 at

Feature image: Granville Fawcett and Nettie Casterton in 1885. (Courtesy of maryo159 at


“Wedding Bells” undated transcription of an article from the Decorah Republican. Collection of the Decorah Genealogy Association.

“Ogden Casterton” Past and Present of Winneshiek County Iowa, Vol. 2. 1913. The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, pp. 52-55.

26 thoughts on “They Peel Right Merrily

Add yours

    1. It was certainly a lot of money back then. It’s fun to read what a wedding was like in those days (at least for the upper crust). I’ve only been to one wedding that lasted to the very wee hours, but never an all-nighter!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I do too. My fiction has been focusing on the future and contemporary times in the last few months. But I just love researching. Will have to think of a new historical project 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Loved the description of the singing and the dancing..sounded like a fun party! It’s kind of sad that we don’t often read descriptions like this anymore…not even in the small town papers!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow–$1,000 clams! Such fun to hear about this wedding. I have a wonderful photo of my mom’s grandmother’s wedding party but no details, other than that it took place in Buffalo. Hats galore and very Gibson-girl-ish hair. I especially love that the bride in your story wore green, right before Christmas, lovely! And I’m pondering the woman-standing-and-man-sitting placement in the formal photos above. Funny, it almost puts the women “above” the men–or maybe she’s just standing so she’s ready to wait on him. The feminist in me ponders…

    Liked by 1 person

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