Naomi West models a dress of her grandmother, Bettie Wine Thomas (1851 – 1938). This dress and bonnet would have been typical for the “sisters” to wear when they went to church. The prayer covering or cap would have been worn under the bonnet.
If you were able to go back in time and revisit the Old Dunkard Church in Bridgewater, one of the main things you notice would be how the people were dressed. As a child, I remember two outstanding colors that most people wore, black and white. The men wore black suits with the coat buttoned up to the neck especially if they were ministers. The older women wore plain black long dresses using the same pattern when a new dress was made. Sometimes one would see shades of gray in some of the dresses. Younger women wore white waists and long black skirts. I especially remember the women from Bridgewater College who had walked from the College to the Church who wore this combination, especially in the early spring and fall. In the summertime little girls wore white dresses and it was often the same go to meeting dress that was worn about every Sunday. In winter the dresses were of a dark color and made of woolen material. Sometimes girls wore linen hand embroidered dresses and the boys wore linen boy dresses. Black shoes and stockings were worn regardless of the season. When you visited other Brethren Churches in this area, you would find people were dressed in a similar way. (excerpt from Grandmother’s Dress by Naomi West)
Credits: Naomi West and Emmert Bittinger served as models for these photos. Photos were taken by David Lineweaver, photo editing was done by Greg Owen.