52 Documents in 52 Weeks #31 – Shirley Westra’s Wedding Announcement

Person of Interest: Shirley Ann Westra
Relationship: 1st cousin 1x removed (my mother’s first cousin)


Source Citation: “Miss Westra is Bride,” marriage announcement, the Courier-News (Bridgewater, New Jersey), 27 June 1961, p. 12, col. 5; image copy, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/218844987/ : accessed 07 April 2017), Historical Newspapers Collection.


Document Description: This is a digital image of a marriage announcement that ran in the Courier-News of Bridgewater, New Jersey. The entire newspaper page for this day has been digitized and these are the screen clippings.


Document Scans/Transcription:
Miss Westra Is Bride
Bedminster – Miss Shirley Ann Westra, daughter of Mrs. Herman Westra of Springdale, R.D. 1, Newton, and the late Herman Westra, became the bride recently of James Gregory Conroy, son of Mrs. James Conroy of Main St. and the late James Conroy.

The ceremony was performed by the Rev. George Everett in St. Elizabeth’s Church, Far Hills. A reception followed in the home of the bride.

Given in marriage by her brother John Westra of Newton, the bride wore an ice blue brocaded satin gown with a sequin crown and illusion veil. She carried a bouquet of carnations.

Mrs. John Westra of Newton was matron of honor. She wore a blue silk organza over taffeta gown and carried a bouquet of white carnations.

Mrs. Jerome Bird of Far Hills was bridesmaid. She was dressed identical to the matron of honor.

Best man was Harry Metzler of Bedminster. Gary Westra of Newton was an usher.

The bride is a graduate of West Morris Regional High School, Chester. The bridegroom attended Bernards High School in Bernardsville and is employed in Perrone’s Shell Station, Bedminster.

Following a wedding trip to Atlantic City, the couple will reside in Springdale, R.D. 1, Newton.


Analysis: This short article in the newspaper is a treasure trove of genealogical information. From it, we learn the following information:

  • Shirley Ann Westra’s father was Herman Westra
  • Herman Westra passed away before the wedding in 1961
  • Shirley Ann Westra’s mother was still alive as of the wedding in 1961
  • Shirley Ann Westra’s mother resided in Springdale, New Jersey, on R.D. 1
  • Shirley Ann Westra was married around June 1961
  • Shirley Ann Westra married James Gregory Conroy
  • Shirley and John Conroy were married in Far Hills, New Jersey, at St. Elizabeth’s church by the Reverend George Everett
  • James Gregory Conroy’s father was James Conroy
  • James Conroy passed away before the wedding in 1961
  • James Gregory Conroy’s mother was still alive as of the wedding in 1961
  • James Gregory Conroy’s mother resided in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Main St.
  • Shirley Ann Westra had a brother named John Westra
  • John Westra was married prior to the wedding in 1961
  • Shirley Ann Westra graduated from West Morris Regional High School in Chester, New Jersey
  • John Gregory Conroy graduated from Bernards High School in Bernardsville, New Jersey
  • John Gregory Conroy was employe at Perrone’s Shell Station in Bedminster, New Jersey
  • Shirley and John Conroy lived in Springdale, New Jersey in 1961

What we can’t get from the announcement is the exact date of the wedding. While the announcement ran on 27 June 1961, the article only says that the couple was married recently. It may have taken a while for the article to get into the paper. We also can’t discern the name of Shirley’s mother, James Gregory’s mother, or John Westra’s wife. Just based on this article, I suspect that Gary Westra was another brother but the article does not explicitly tell us this information.

We also get some small details about what the bride and some of the wedding party were wearing. I had to look to see what an illusion veil is and it seems to be a veil made of a very gossamer fabric. From the picture of Shirley that accompanied the article, we can see the type of bouquet she was carrying and the style of her dress.

This is an original document in that the wedding announcement appeared in the paper and we seem to have a digitized, true copy of it. This information found within the article is both secondary and undetermined since, most likely, the reporter/editor or typesetter did not witness the wedding firsthand.  They are relying on information that someone else provided to them. The evidence is a mixture of direct and indirect depending on the research question asked.

CONCLUSION

Newspaper wedding announcements are some handy documents to ferret out for genealogical information. Be aware, though, that wedding announcements can range from very lengthy to very short. It depends on how much information was provided to the newspapers and/or whether the marriage occurred in a church or the couple eloped. This was a nice article that allowed me to enter a husband for Shirley Ann Westra into my family tree. It filled out a few leaves on a branch of the Westra tree.