chapter  1
11 Pages

Frontier and Family

WithJames R. McGovern

WHEN Henry Varnum Poor married Mary Wild Pierce in her father’s church, the First Congregational, in Brookline, Massachusetts, on September 7, 1841, no one present at the wedding could be certain that their marriage would work out as well as it did. The bride was attractive enough, resembling her father, bright-looking with blond hair and gentle blue eyes. She was looked upon as a beauty, though her nose was too faithful to that of her father, Rev. John Pierce, for her to be considered a great beauty. Her wedding dress, simple and tasteful, with delicate embroidery, was surprisingly low cut across the chest for a minister’s daughter, but surely appropriate for a bride of twenty. 1 Carefully preserved to this day, the dress suggests her petite stature (5’2”, 100 pounds) and graceful appearance. If, as the youngest in her family, with six sisters and three brothers, she had become a mildly dependent person seeking the continuity of her role as favorite child at home, this quality did not show to disadvantage on the day she chose to give herself to her groom.