1908 Belew/Carr Wedding A Gala Social Event for the City
Local history abounds in scores of sources, including newspaper clippings of weddings and funerals. Two 1908 entries provided details of an engagement and a wedding between members of two prominent Johnson City families. It offered an interesting peek into social customs and life from that era of yesteryear.
The first article stated that Miss Lillian Burbage held an informal reception at her lovely home at “Robin’s Roost” on S. Roan Street on Saturday afternoon, March 7, 1908. The occasion was to announce the engagement and forthcoming marriage of Miss Katherine “Kate” Carr and Mr. William Withers Belew.
Mr. Belew, a former resident of Bristol and graduate of Emory and Henry College, became a prominent young businessman with the legal department of the South and Western Railroad. He moved to Johnson City when the business offices were relocated here. Later, Bill occupied the position of chief clerk to J. Torment Powell, general counsel of the Carolina, Clinchfield and Ohio Railroad.
Miss Carr was the daughter of Henry H. and Sue Miller Carr. He was successful lawyer and a member of what was described as “one of the best families in Johnson City.” The marriage promised to be a significant social event for the town.
A second news item revealed that the wedding took place on May 7 at 5:30 p.m. at the Southern Methodist Church (a.k.a. Munsey Memorial M.E. Church, South) on Market Street. Reverend Sidney B. Vaught, the church pastor, performed the ceremony assisted by Dr. R.G. Waterhouse, president of Emory and Henry College. The church was beautifully decorated with an assortment of ferns, palms and cut flowers.
While guests were being seated in the auditorium, Helen Hayward delighted the audience with several vocal selections that included "O Promise Me" and "All For You.'' She was accompanied by Mrs. Sam Carr, pianist and Mrs. Sam Millard, violinist.
The bride was dressed in a champagne messaline (lightweight, soft, shiny silk cloth with a twilled or satin weave) coat suit with gloves and hat to match. Miss Nell Carr served as maid of honor.
The groom and his best man, Austin B. Belew, entered from the rear of the church where he met his soon-to-be bride on the arm of her father at the altar. Young Ralph Carr was ring bearer and little Miss Evelyn Gaunt was flower girl. The ushers were Messrs Paul Carr, Will Miller, Littleton Wood, B.S. Gore, James J. McLaughlin and C.H. Belew, Jr.
The wedding party entered the church to the strains of the “Lohengrin Wedding March.” Another selection, "Hearts and Flowers," was played softly during the ceremony and “Mendelssohn’s Wedding March” was provided while the party was leaving the church. The church was crowded with friends and relatives attesting to the popularity of the young couple. The names of several out-of-town guests were listed in the newspaper.
After the ceremony, the young couple departed the city on a vestibule train (having enclosures between the end doors of adjacent cars so as to provide for a continuous walkway throughout the train). They were headed for a two-week honeymoon in Washington, New York and other eastern cities. Upon their return home, they took up residence on W. Unaka Avenue near Boone.
Many area residents still recall the successful long-running Carr Brothers building supply business operated by brothers Sam and Paul Carr at Oak and Millard streets.