By Kris Leonhardt
In the early years of American history when women’s styles were noted for their long full dresses, the millinery store was a significant part of each community. Women’s dresses were symbols of status, and a proper hat was the pinnacle of every woman’s outfit.
In addition to dresses and hats, milliners created many shirts, aprons, neckerchiefs, shift dresses, cloaks, hoods, and muffs. Milliners were responsible for keeping locals in the latest fashions, certainly a difficult feat in the days before television, internet, and accessible means of travel.
Locally, E.M. Rowan was one of the most in-demand milliners in the area. Her shop was noted for its styles and refined presentation as well as the expert specialists she employed. Rowan enjoyed a longevity in the city that spanned decades.
The following excerpt ran in the Marshfield Illustrated publication in 1905 and was reprinted by the Marshfield Genealogy Group:
Marshfield boasts of millinery stores, which in the artistic and abundant variety of the stock carried puts these establishments on par with the imposing metropolitan competitors. Among the handsome millinery stores is the one of Miss E.M. Rowan. Her stock is elegant, and she seems to know intuitively the hat or bonnet that will look best upon her customer and give the most pleasing effect. The establishment has catered to the local trade for 15 years, and this fact alone is assurance as far as headdress goes, the customer who leaves the store has had the benefit of that ripe judgment which comes with years and guarantees perfection when a becoming and fashionable bonnet is purchased.
For more on the Rowan Millinery and other downtown businesses, visit the Marshfield Genealogy website at marshfieldgenealogy.com.