Grace Emery's Wedding
June 28, 1905
It was quite literally the social event of the season. Grace Elizabeth Emery, age 30, the only daughter of Bradford's foremost entrepreneur and oilman, Lewis Emery, was to wed. And considering that Lewis Emery was possibly the richest man Bradford had ever seen, it was going to be quite the event.
Grace had not been born here (she was born in Titusville on January 27, 1875), but her family had moved to Bradford shortly after her birth, and it was here that Lewis Emery gathered his immense fortune. And it was here that she would be married.
The groom was Mahlon C. Martin, age 35. He was a nephew of Mahlon Martin, an early Pennsylvania oil entrepreneur, and who had projected the first pipeline for carrying oil. He was born in Roister Landing, New Jersey in 1870, and by 1905 was the manager and part owner of the Bogota, Columbia street railways, with partial interest in that country's emerald mines. He moved in diplomatic circles, and aided the United States during various uprisings and revolutionary troubles in South America. It is not known how he and Grace met, but it seemed an ideal match and a wonderful way to join together two oil empires and families of wealth.
The evening ceremony was performed at the Church of the Ascension on Chautauqua Place, with the Rev. A.R. Kieffer conducting the nuptial rites, and over 400 friends and relatives crowded into the church. The Bradford Era wrote "the Episcopal Church was beautifully decorated with fern, daisies, palms, and smilax, and presented a most attractive appearance . . . Long streamers, interlaced with ferns and daisies, were suspended along the walls of the church, and the chancel and altar were resplendent with wild flowers, enhanced by the artistic arrangement of palms and potted plants, the entire effect being as akin to nature as the decorative art would permit."
At precisely 8:30 PM, the processional began, and the bridal party entered the church to the strains of the bridal chorus from Lohengrin, as sung by the choir, as they proceeded down the aisle. A heavy cross of gold, borne by Clark Bogart, led the procession, followed by four altar boys, and then the remaining 16 members of the choir. Next came the 12 ushers - Jay Bird, Delevan Emery, Earl Emery, Frank Zook, Theodore Wilson, G.E. Green, B.M. Bailey, William Lenhart, George Crawford, C.E. McCafferty, Bert Rockwell, and Hoxie Clark. The maid of honor, Florence Ramage, came next, preceding the bridesmaids Florence Haskell, Grace Jones, Eleanor Bonham, Elizabeth Boyne, and the matron of honor, Mrs. Hoxie Clark.
Grace's gown was specially woven of rose point and duchess lace, made of princess style, and with a court train of duchess lace. She wore a white veil of tulle and carried a white ivory prayer book.
While the ceremony was taking place, the choir softly sang "Perfect Love". During the processional, Mendelssohn's Wedding March was played by the organ and the Jamison Orchestra. The bride and groom were then conveyed to a waiting carriage for the short trip to the Emery mansion on Congress Street, where the reception party would take place.
A thousand people waited there for a glimpse of the bride. According to The Bradford Era, "the streets became crowded for several blocks on Congress Street and near the house it was impossible for one to walk through the mass of humanity. The Emery lawn, the lawns of the nearby residences, and the corners of Park Street, facing the Emery residence, were thronged with curious onlookers. Policemen were stationed in front of the residence and along the walk leading to the house to keep the crowd back, in order that the 1400 invited guests might pass up the walk and into the house. The crowd maintained their position for hours."
Once inside the house, the guests made their way to the third floor, where the gorgeous and expensive wedding gifts were displayed. The gifts were so numerous that a room had to be specially prepared to receive them, and a second stairway was built for the guests to descend. The gifts included almost every article of household elegance that the mind could conceive of.
Some of the gifts included an ebony chest containing 287 pieces of sterling silver; a saddle and bridle; a complete sterling silver tea set with the Emery crest engraved upon each piece; a sterling silver set of platters, candelabra and punch bowl; a sterling silver banquet vase; a hand wrought silver flower centerpiece; a Limoges china service; an after-dinner sterling silver coffee service; many pieces of rock crystal including vases, decanters, dishes, and crystal candelabra; linen, Mexican and Spanish drawn work, paintings, engravings, and "bric-a-brac" of every description.
The groom's gift to Grace was a magnificent emerald guard chain and emerald banquet ring. Each bridesmaid was presented with hand wrought gold brooches, with emerald settings, and each usher received emerald scarf pins.
Following the lavish reception, the happy bridal couple left at 1:00 PM by special railroad car, to Pittsburgh, where they planned to travel to St. Louis for several days, then on board the steamer Deutchland to London, then on to Paris, Spain and then finally down to the future home in Bogota, Columbia.
But sometimes wealth, circumstance, and high society are not enough to guarantee happiness. Something happened to the bridal couple on their way to their honeymoon, and within a day Grace returned home, alone. She never publicly announced what had happened between the two of them. Mahlon Martin was never mentioned again. She remained in Bradford the rest of her life, and became an honored philanthropist, helped to establish Girl Scouts in Bradford, became a respected businesswoman, joined many organizations in the city, and traveled extensively throughout the world. She died March 2, 1941 at the age of 66. Grace never remarried.