8.21.2022 [archived ~ 6.22.2017]
At the turn of the 20th century, it was rare that weddings took place in the towns of Deer River and Bigfork. Instead, the betrothed took the train to Grand Rapids, Duluth, or Minneapolis. The ceremonies did not occur on a Saturday, but maybe a Monday, Wednesday, or Thursday. And the time? Morning or evening was as good as midday. The young couple looked for a justice of the peace or preacher as soon after the license was obtained as the law allowed.
The witnesses were usually members of the officiant’s family, or close friends, as in the case of a double ceremony. There were no notices to save the date, and in fact, more often than not, few people even knew that a couple was to be married. A celebration of some sort might occur when the married couple returned to the home community as a dance was always popular and might lead to another wedding!
The following are a sample of the wedding announcements between 1897, when the Itasca News began publishing in Deer River (the Bigfork Settler was open for business in October 1903), and 1904. The headlines that are not centered were inserted by me as the ‘notice’ was in a general body of news.
Father of the Bride Had a Change of Heart “The father who passed through town last Tuesday from Bemidji in hot pursuit of his eloping 17-year-old daughter and her 50-year-old lover, overtook the pair at Grand Rapids, where he witnessed the wedding ceremony and joined them in the wedding tour back to Bemidji.” Itasca News7-31-1897
Mother Unaware Daughter Had Married “We are reliably informed that about two weeks ago, Miss Ina Gibbs and J.A. Quigg were quietly, and unknown to the bride’s mother or anyone else here, married in Minneapolis. Mr. Quigg left here Monday to rejoin his wife and take in the fair.
He informed Mrs. Gibbs Monday morning that she was his mother-in-law. She was opposed to the girl marrying, and she quietly went to Minneapolis and saw her daughter. She returned yesterday and says the report is true. Mr. and Mrs. Quigg have not returned yet.” Itasca News 9-7-1901
Raucous Charivari “One of the heaviest bombardments heard by anyone in this section took place around the Northern hotel last Monday night in the charivari tendered Bob Clark and bride, formerly Margaret Welch, who has been an employee of the Northern hotel for more than a year. The couple were united in Duluth last week and returned home Monday. Mr. Clark is our hustling village blacksmith, an old resident of this place, and he has many friends with whom the News joins in extending congratulations.” Itasca News 3-1-1902
Three Prominent Deer River Couples Spliced ~ Itasca News 3-15-1902
 “Joseph T. Girard and Miss Lena Klinert were united in marriage at Duluth Wednesday and returned yesterday noon and put up at the Northern Hotel, where the two have courted and wooed during the past year. The bride was formerly a resident of Duluth, is an amiable young lady and has a host of warm friends in Deer River. Mr. Girard has been a resident of Deer River for seven years. The past two years he has been agent at this place for the Duluth Brewing company… This couple will soon go to housekeeping, having secured the Baker cottage which they will occupy as soon as it is vacated by Mr. and Mrs. J.A. Quigg. [*Couple married a year ago]
 Host and Hostess Howard had arrangements all in order for a reception banquet in honor of the bridal party and also their guests Mr. and Mrs. R.J. Clark, who were married last week. [Couple from Raucous Charivari]
 But surprise and good feeling ran high in the community when at about three o’clock in the afternoon ‘Stub’ Hamilton announced that he ‘be gol darned if he and Lena didn’t marry too, for a triple wedding.’ And it was done. Groom-elect Girard being a justice of the peace, he forthwith tied the knot in the presence of all the members of the household, which made John Hamilton and Miss Lena Gathercole husband and wife till death shall part them. The latter couple has resided in Deer about two years, and both have till recently been in the employ of W.J. Coffron.
Early in the evening crowds began pouring into the hotel, and soon all the public rooms of that popular hostelry were comfortably filled with friends, of some or all of the contracting parties. Dancing was the order of enjoyment until one o’clock. The supper was highly enjoyed.
This was the first, and it will most likely be years before a triple wedding will again occur in Deer River, and the memory of it will linger long in the hearts of many.”
The Pan-Can-Cowbell Band “Ed Bangle, the popular land locator of Big Fork river, and Mrs. Josephine Skallerud of Grantsburg, Wis., were united in matrimony at Grand Rapids Thursday. The boys expected the event when the twain boarded the train for the Rapids. On the evening local they returned, and at about nine o’clock the cannonading commenced at the Itasca hotel where they stopped. The pan-can-cowbell band gave then a warm greeting and smoked cigars with the best wishes to the happy couple. Mr. and Mrs. Bangle will remain in Deer River about a month and will then make their home at Mr. Bangle’s homestead of the Big Fork.” Itasca News 10-4-1902
Prominent Citizens Wed ~ Itasca News 4-9-1904
“Announcements were received by their many friends in Deer River of the wedding of Miss Alice Poupore and Mr. William C. LaCroix, which took place at the home of the bride’s parents at Poupores, Minn., on Wednesday, April 6th.
The parties are both prominent Deer River people. The bride has for two years been a school teacher in the district, a sister of Mrs. Archie Stephenson and William and Robert Poupore. She is a handsome girl of 21 and a society favorite. The groom is well known in Itasca county, having for the past fifteen years been the superintendent of operations for the Itasca Lumber company. He is 40 years of age, a friend of all who knows him.
Taking out a license to wed at the same time were Miss Clara LaPointe and Mr. Andrew Marcell, according to the clerk of court record published in the Duluth papers, and it is said both ceremonies were performed in conjunction.
Miss LaPointe’s home is in Duluth. She has been for the past year in the dining room service at the Northern hotel in Deer River and is well and favorably known in society here. Mr. Marcell is also an old employee of the Itasca Lumber company, having for the past ten years been train master of that company’s railroad here. He is about 38 years of age, a steady official and a jovial friend all along the line.
Both couples will make their home in Deer River, which, is joyful news to the community.
When one comes to count up the number of homes contained in the village, it adds up the astonishing result that there are more couples here who were married while living here than those living here and were married before their residence began in this place.”
The last comment by editor Taylor was very astute and designated the beginnings of a new generation. Before long a new school was needed to accommodate the offspring of these and many other young couples. And yes, the Deer River school will be featured in an upcoming Schools Days series!