This cream-colored silk wedding dress has lace trim and decorative top-stitching. It was worn by Hester Schravesande for her wedding to John Belknap, a descendant of Charles Belknap. Charles Belknap was best know as the founder of Belknap Wagon and Sleigh Company in 1884. The company manufactured wagons, carts, and sleighs and by 1890 employed over 50 men. Belknap was also a firefighter, mayor of Grand Rapids in 1885 and served in many civic organizations throughout his life. Most pieces of the same age in the collection are quite brittle and have large tears due to silk shattering. This dress is significant because of its excellent condition and provenance.
Captain Charles Eugene Belknap Charles Eugene Belknap is an important historic figure for both the city of Grand Rapids and the state of Michigan. He was born in 1846 in Massena, New York, and he and his family moved to Grand Rapids in 1855. At the age of sixteen, he began fighting in the Civil War in the 21st Michigan Infantry, and by 1864, he had risen to the rank of Captain. After the war, he returned to Grand Rapids and started the Belknap Wagon and Sleigh Company, which manufactured farm and freight wagons, lumber carts, and logging trucks. In 1872 he became Assistant Fire Chief of the No. 3 Fire Company, and in 1878 he became a member of the Board of Education. He was elected Mayor of Grand Rapids by popular vote in 1884, for a one-year term. In 1888, he was elected as the Representative in Congress for the Fifth District of Michigan.
Hester Schravesande Hester Schravesande was born in 1897 in Bay City Michigan. She was married to John Belknap, a descendant of Charles Belknap. In 1973 she passed away in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Belknap was best know as the founder of Belknap Wagon and Sleight Co. in the 1884. The company manufactured wagons, cart and sleighs and by 1890 employed over 50 men. Belknap was also a fire fighter, mayor of Grand Rapids in 1885 and served in many civic organizations throughout his life.