This beautiful wooden wedding box was made by brothers William “Henry” and George Burr as a wedding gift for their older sister, Julia Burr Gould (1821-1907), my second great grandmother. Handmade wedding boxes were a popular tradition in the mid-19th century.
The box is sturdy and well put together. The dark wood is engraved with Julia’s initials “J B.” Graceful designs decorate the top and sides.
Inside the box is a photograph of one of the brothers, “Uncle Henry Burr,” a dark-haired young man.
Julia, who grew up in Redding Ridge CT, married Daniel B. Gould (1818-1858), who was born in Fairfield, the son of a farmer. The Bridgeport newspaper, The Republican Farmer, posted a brief notice on Oct. 10, 1848. Apparently Julia had been living across the Long Island Sound in Williamsburg (Brooklyn) NY at the time.
Daniel started off in the carriage making business in Bridgeport. Julia and Daniel had their only child, George Henry (named after her two brothers), in 1849. The 1850 census shows that George and Henry, then age 19 and 21, lived with Julia and Daniel in Bridgeport. Henry worked in carriage manufacturing and George was a painter.
Later, Henry Burr married and returned to Redding Ridge, where he owned Ridgeside Farm (or Ridge Side Farm). Ads for farm produce can be found in the local newspaper, The Newtown Bee, in the 1890s.
He also managed a large cattle and oxen stock. On Jan. 5, 1893, he posted a notice in “Country Gentleman” magazine that he was selling off his cattle “as I can no longer care for them.” The farmhouse still stands at 102 Black Rock Turnpike and was recently on the market. .
Three of Henry’s children died of typhoid fever within days of each other in January 1877. Only one of his children, Marcus Burr, survived into adulthood.
George Burr (1829-1915) moved to New York City in the 1870s. He married three times and had five children, settling in Maspeth, Long Island. He worked in manufacturing and was active in civic life. On his death, the local Brooklyn Times Union, June 3, 1915, recounted his contributions. “Mr Burr took an active interest in politics being prominently identified with the Republican Party. He at one time filled the position of Justice of the Peace in the old town of Newtown. He was for a number of years Tax Collector for School District 5 and also was a charter member of Hook and Ladder Co 5 of the old Volunteer fire dept. He was a member of Elmhurst (Newtown) Presbyterian Church and highly esteemed throughout the community where he lived. His many friends will greatly deplore his death and his familure face will be missed by everyone.”
As for my great great grandmother, Julia, her husband Daniel became an investor and banker in Bridgeport. They lived in a house in the center of the city, but he must have taken some financial risks. When he died young, at the age of 39, she was left bankrupt and the house and contents, including a piano, were put up for sale. With her child, George, she returned to her parents’ house in Redding.
Julia never remarried. She spent her final days in her son George’s home in Bayonne NJ, where she died at 85 on January 21, 1907. Her wedding box became a family treasure, carefully kept for over 100 years. I’m still looking for a photograph of Julia Burr Gould.