A wedding at a glance

Beeckman Steward wedding invitationMy grandfather once told me that his parents had to wait for several years to marry. When they did, in January 1885, my great-grandfather was 32 and his bride 23 – hardly old by our standards, perhaps! My grandfather’s box of family papers yields a copy of the wedding invitation; even better, another envelope contains the tiny (2 5/8” by 4”) notebook in which my great-grandmother listed her wedding presents.

Cam Steward and Daisy Beeckman were “poor relations” at this stage in their lives, so they were fortunate to receive two checks for $1,000, one from “Kate & Louis [Lorillard]”[1] and one from Cam’s brother John Steward (Jr.).[2] The value of money in 1884–85 can be hard to approximate in today’s dollars, but $1,000 was certainly equivalent to a generous year’s income in many parts of the United States.

That they were not expected to remain “hard up” is suggested by the rest of the wedding presents – and their donors. Family was well-represented, of course: Cam’s first cousin J. J. Van Alen[3] sent dishes and an epergne; their cousin Sallie Marié[4] gave coffee cups; Mrs. Foster – presumably Daisy’s grandmother[5] – sent a family Bible and a quilt; and Will Lyman, who would later marry Daisy’s sister Helen,[6] gave the couple a silver tea caddy.

Members of the Knickerbocker Greys, ca. 1863: From left, William Waldorf Astor (1848-1919), later 1st Viscount Astor; Campbell Steward (1852-1936); John Steward (Jr.) (1847-1923); James Hooker Hamersley (1844-1901); James Henry Jones (1846-1919), whose sister Cordelia married John Steward Jr. in 1871; and (kneeling) Ogden Goelet (1846-1897).

Fittingly, as the Steward and Beeckman circles included the novelist Edith Wharton, other presents came from friends with distinctly Knickerbocker names. Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Astor[7] sent a tea set; Mrs. Astor[8] gave a gold bracelet, and Mr. and Mrs. Ogden Goelet[9] a diamond pendant; Mr. and Mrs. Robert Goelet[10] sent a tête à tête; Mrs. Winthrop[11] gave the couple a set of lunch plates; and presents arrived from members of the Brevoort, de Peyster, Iselin, Livingston, and Suydam families.

My great-grandmother listed the flowers she received (“Basket – Mr. Barnwell”); then, leaving a few pages blank, used this little notebook to track the vital statistics of her first child, Campbell White Steward (1886–1960).

Continued here.


[1] Daisy’s sister Katharine Livingston Beeckman (1855–1941) was married to Louis Lasher Lorillard 1874–1910.

[2] Mrs. John Steward (Jr.) (Cordelia Schermerhorn Jones [1849–1920]) sent a check for $500.

[3] James John Van Alen (1848–1923) was married to Cordelia Steward’s first cousin Emily Astor 1875–81.

[4] Sarah Steward Marié (1861–1886), who married Francis Key Pendleton in June 1885.

[5] Eliza Robinson Atherton (1812–1891) was married to Samuel Henry Foster 1830–61.

[6] William Pratt Lyman (1860–1924) married Helen Beeckman in 1886.

[7] William Waldorf Astor was married to Mary Dahlgren Paul 1878–94.

[8] Charlotte Augusta Gibbes (1825–1887) married John Jacob Astor in 1846.

[9] Ogden Goelet married Mary Reta Wilson in 1877.

[10] Robert Goelet (1841–1899) married Harriette Louise Warren in 1879.

[11] Katharine Wilson Taylor (1839–1925) was married to Daisy's kinsman Robert Winthrop 1859–92.

Scott C. Steward

About Scott C. Steward

Scott C. Steward has been NEHGS’ Editor-in-Chief since 2013. He is the author, co-author, or editor of genealogies of the Ayer, Le Roy, Lowell, Saltonstall, Thorndike, and Winthrop families. His articles have appeared in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, NEXUS, New England Ancestors, American Ancestors, and The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, and he has written book reviews for the Register, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.View all posts by Scott C. Steward