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Mary Ann Van Riper (1849-1922)

Born in January 1849, Mary Ann Van Riper was Anna and Uriah Van Riper's first daughter. She also was the couple's first child to survive into adulthood. According to the U.S. Federal Census of 1860, Mary Ann was reported to have gone to school within the year--suggesting she had some form of education, before marrying her husband Andrew Hopper in 1872. As her parents' oldest surviving child, Mary Ann inherited her father’s farm upon his death in 1879-making her the only woman to inherit the Van Riper-Hopper House. She, Andrew, and five of their seven children continued to run the family farm as "truck farmers" during the course of their lives. During her younger years, Mary Ann she may have worn a dress similar to our ca. 1865 dress below.

Click on any image below to learn more!

More popular than ever before, the wide, bell-shaped silhouette hit its apex in the early 1860s, as women from all walks of life donned cage crinolines to display yards of beautiful fabrics and trims. Thanks to the invention of synthetic dyes, practically all colors of the rainbow were available to wear, in fabrics ranging from poplin, silk, and velvet, to lesser-known materials like goat hair and linsey-woolsey. Bodices tended to sit at or just above the natural waist; especially towards the latter half of the 1860s, sashes and peplums became popular accessories to adorn waists with. Sleeves remained long, and could be cut straight, pagoda style, or cuffed at the wrists.

1860s fashion plate.jpeg

Triangular and geometric-style trim was common in the 1860s, as seen in this fashion plate for the Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine in 1864.

Underneath, the shape of the cage crinoline slowly shifted, resulting in a new silhouette by the middle of the decade. Instead of the full, rounded look of the 1850s, the bulk of the cage now sat closer to a woman’s back. This gave a woman’s skirt the appearance of being relatively flat in front, with most of the skirt’s volume concentrated at the back. By 1867, dresses for all occasions had full backs and long trains, which could be looped up for walking. The particularly fashion-forward woman intentionally had her skirt cut short at the front to “show the tips of [her] boots” (Godey’s April 1867).

Mary Ann might have worn something similar to the stunning brown dress above, for visiting friends and attending social events. Its skirt is wide, bell-shaped, and especially full at its back, with a small train extending off the back to the floor. Vandyke trim decorates the collar, cuffs, and the skirt’s front panel, adding a touch of personality to the otherwise plain ensemble. The hand-painted glass buttons which extend from the collar to the skirt hem are functional: closing the bodice and skirt, while providing a subtle splash of color and texture.


While the Wayne Museum doesn't have any photographs of the Van Riper ladies from the 1860s, we do have photos of other Wayne residents in ca. 1860s-1870s clothing.

On left, Mary Mead (b. 1853), daughter of Cornelius M. Mead and Martha Ackerson.

On right, Mary Neafie Mead (1813-1876), great-great-granddaughter of John Mead, one of the initial European colonists in Wayne Township.

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