|Mrs. Sibilla Van Arsdel Welch|
Mom mentioned Mrs. Welch several times to me in the course of her lifetime because she was the person who introduced her parents, my grandfather, George Burris and my grandmother, Louise Herrington to each other.
My grandmother was a nurse before she was married and Mrs. Welch was her boss at one of the hospitals in which she worked in Arkadelphia. In the Find A Grave memorial for Sibilla, it says she "was a registered nurse and for several years owned and operated Welch's Invalid's Home in Arkadelphia, Arkansas". I assume this is where my grandmother worked and became acquainted with Sibilla.
On the other hand, Sibilla knew my grandfather, too. Mom never mentioned how they knew each other, but her eyes sparkled with love when she told me how Mrs. Welch introduced her parents for the first time.
One funny story mom told me of her parents dating years was that every time George would ask Louise where she wanted to go or what she wanted to do on a date, my grandmother would say "I don't care." This answer started to annoy my grandfather a little so he decided that next time he was going to have a little fun and take her at her word. So he plans a date that he knew she wanted to go on and asked her: do you want to go or not? When she came out with her typical "I don't care" answer, he said "OK, then we won't go." This taught Louise a lesson about George and she never again used that answer when he asked her what she wanted to do.
Now you have to have known them to understand how funny that was to my mom. George had a real mischievous sense of humor and Louise was just the opposite, very serious and easily embarrassed by words such as those. But it must have been a successful date because they ended up getting married on November 18, 1929.
|George Burris and Louise Herrington circa 1929, the year of their wedding.|
There is virtually nothing to show for their actual wedding. No photographs of the occasion, no invitations, no mementos, exact opposite of my paternal grandparents. I never really understood that because George had a good job with the U.S. Postal Service, and his family used photographers all the time. But the great depression was beginning, so maybe there just wasn't enough money at the time for such frivolous things as a photographer, or maybe they just didn't elect to have one. I only saw two things that proved they were married, their marriage license and my grandmother's engagement ring. Well three things, the last but most important, my mom!
The engagement ring was a little bit of a sore spot with my mom. She told me that Louise's original engagement ring, the one George bought her, was beautiful. It was a diamond in a white gold setting that was somewhat ornate, had kind of a lace-look it, like filigree. Maybe it had an art deco style, which the year 1929 did fall in to.
So the modern era came along, with everything streamlined and simple, and Louise wanted to change the setting to reflect that. So she took her ring in and had the diamond transferred to a simple white gold band. It was still pretty, but the gorgeous filigree band was gone. She didn't take it back with her when she picked up her "new" ring. That was a shame, mom said, because it was so pretty and she for one would love to have had it.
So back to Sibilla Welch. Since she brought them together it is not a stretch to discover that she offered her home as the venue for the event. Mom told me that the Welch's lived in the part of Arkadelphia near the Ouachita River. Maybe a river view? If only my grandparents were alive, I'd have so many questions about that day.
According to the Find A Grave memorial website, Sibilla Van Arsdel married Theodore Jasper Welch on December 22, 1908 in Clark County, Arkansas. They had one adopted son, Theodore Jasper Welch, Jr. (1913-1977).
Sibilla died on September 5, 1958 (aged 67) in Arizona. She was buried in Bethlehem Cemetery in the small town of Joan, Clark County, Arkansas.
I once worked with a woman from that area of the state and she told me you can always tell if someone is from this area or not by the way they pronounce Joan. It is not the usual pronunciation like "Jone", it is pronounced like "JoAnn". So if you ever find your way to the little town of Joan, Arkansas, you will know how to pronounce it right, and they will be impressed.
Thank you Mrs. Sibilla Welch for introducing my grandparents. I would love to have known you myself.