Many things a woman may forget in the passing of the years but never will she forget the gown she wore at her wedding. Mrs. Henry Heise, who will celebrate her 93rd birthday on March 27th at the home of her daughter, Mrs. M. Kanmacher, Kidd Avenue, remembers the details of her wedding array as if she had donned it but yesterday. Married at 19, Mrs. Heise - or Dorothea Stuempfle, as she was then - recalls her wedding gown, made by a dressmaker (a noteworthy fact 74 years ago), of grey French merino with hooped skirt, the rows of grey silk fringe with which it was trimmed beaded with little roses. A grey, flower-trimmed bonnet was worn with it and the finishing touch was added by a grey Paisley shawl with coloured border and fringe. The presiding minister was Rev. Emanuel Wurster of St. Peter's Lutheran Church, and as the custom was in those days, the marriage took place at the home of the bride's parents.
Mrs. Heise was born at Preston, 1850, and lived there most of her life. It is still home to her although she spends the greater part of each year with her daughters. She is a charter member of the Ladies' Aid of St. Peter's Church and cherishes memories of the friendships formed in her long association with that active organization, though most of her companions of those busy, happy years have slipped away from the scene of their earthly labours. The first settlers in Waterloo County had established themselves only about 50 years before Mrs. Heise's birth in Preston. These were two brothers-in-law, Joseph Schoerg and Samuel Betzner, Mennonites from Franklin County, Pennsylvania. They were followed by several cavalcades of Pennsylvania Dutch who travelled for weeks in covered wagons to reach the haven of Waterloo County. These skilled farmers and artisans were augmented from time to time by considerable numbers of young Germans fleeing from the Fatherland to escape the oppressive system of military conscription forced on them by the Prussian war machine. With one of these families came little Henry Heise, 10 years old, born in Mulhausen, Prussia, and destined to be the husband of Dorothea Stuempfle.
The little settlement of Preston rapidly became an important lumbering centre and must have left the primitive conditions of earlier pioneer times well behind by the time Mrs. Heise was old enough to go to school; she recalls her childhood hours spent in a grade school of several large rooms. One of the teachers, Mr. Jacobs, entranced the children with his violin playing and taught them little German songs and nursery rhymes.
A remark about the present tea rationing reminded Mrs. Heise that this commodity was very scarce in her young days, her mother making "gwendl" tea from the thyme that grew in the garden. Bread was baked in an outdoor oven, each child bringing out a loaf in a pan when it had risen enough and watching while mother pushed it into the oven with a long handled shovel. Another of her memories was the custom of placing the children's Christmas presents in big soup plates where they found them when they came to the breakfast table on Christmas morning. The presents were exactly alike, so there was no opportunity for jealousy to rear its ugly head in the midst of the happy family group. A colourful figure in the history of the town, to whom many Prestonians owe their lives, was "Mam" Kress, a midwife trained in Germany, who is credited with bringing at least 2000 babies into the world of Preston. The present struggle for world supremacy is the fourth war among European nations during Mrs. Heise's lifetime. The first was the brief but bitterly fought Franco-German war of 1870-1871, and she recalls the excitement that prevailed in ostensibly peace loving Preston when the news came of victory of the German army over the French. The next was the Boer War which, relatively speaking, did not effect individual life in Canada greatly. The one man who went to South Africa from Kitchener was Herman Quermbach, a nephew of Mrs. Heise. On his return he was given an ovation by his townsfolk that is talked about to this day. But the first Great War was another matter, and Mrs. Heise was one of the most active workers in Preston, knitting, sewing and planning money-making affairs for the Red Cross, as thousands of women across Canada were doing, and although they little thought so at the time, laying up a stock of experience that was to help them through the present war. One son, William, and a grandson, George Kanmacher, played their part in the struggle, and George lives now as one of Grimsby's most popular citizens. It was in 1917, as the war was drawing to a close, that Mr. Heise died. Mrs. Heise has an unbroken circle of 10 children, 13 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. She recalls with pardonable pride that she made all her children's clothing. Her 93rd birthday finds her still physically fit and showing little trace of the flight of time. She is keenly interested in world affairs, and counts among her pleasures the reading of The Independent each week. Though transport restrictions will prevent a family gathering, Mrs. Heise plans to celebrate her birthday fittingly, though quietly, with her daughter at 14 Kidd Avenue.