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The Mysterious Julia Wallace Gage

Color photograph of back of champagne silk 1876 wedding dress with lobster tail styling and three poufs.
1876 wedding dress. Documentation connected the dress to Julia Wallace Gage and her mother, Susan L. French. Photograph by John Sadd.

Julia’s story has been a mystery to the elves in the NHS’ dungeon and textile room.  Over the past five years her name, as Mrs. Gage or Mrs. Edwin Gage, has popped up over and over again in relation to the collection.  The biggest and most important mystery to bear her name was the bridal dress now on display in the Abbot-Spalding House in the exhibit And the Bride Wore…: 150 Years of Nashua Bridal Fashion. The champagne silk gown is clearly a dress from 1876 with its bountiful backside poufs and 22-inch waist, but Julia wasn’t born until 1883, so the gown was not worn by her.


Black and white image of Austin E. Wallace Pharmacy with four men standing outside the building.
Austin E. Wallace Pharmacy. Austin E. Wallace stands third from the left.

After much searching and research, it was determined that Julia F. Wallace, who in 1915 married Edwin Stanton Gage, was the daughter of Austin E. Wallace and Susan L. French, who married approximately during February 1876 in Nashua.  The wedding gown belonged to Julia’s mother.  It is not known how Susan and Austin met. However, Austin owned and operated Austin Wallace Pharmacy for 52 years in Nashua and was a well-known and beloved citizen.  Susan was the second president of the Nashaway Women’s Club, holding the office for several years, and she was a member of the Matthew Thornton Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) and the Colonial Dames.


Black and white oval portrait photograph of Julia Wallace Gage.
Julia Wallace Gage

Apparently, Julia was not a shy woman, because her name appeared in Nashua’s daily paper from time to time.  She graduated from Nashua High School in 1902, graduated from Abbott Academy in 1904, attended Simmons College, and taught sewing at Cambridge Trade School and Mack Industrial School until 1915.  She was a member of the First Church Women’s Association, a member of D.A.R. from 1905 and a regent from 1936 to 1938.  Her membership in the D.A.R. might have spurred a deep interest in history, because she was also a member of Daughters of Colonial Wars, a trustee and director of Hunt homes, and a director of Nashua Protestant Orphanage, the Good Cheer Society, and the Nashaway Women’s Club.

 

In 1950, Julia was elected president of the Nashua Historical Society, which might explain the number of family objects housed in the Florence H. Speare Memorial Museum.  She had many lifelong friendships because of her involvement with all things historical, and traveled throughout the state because of her ties to the Colonial Dames.  In 1961, her 78th year, Julia, Mrs. Frederick W. Cox, Miss Anna Stearns, and Mrs. Samuel Williams, all patrons of the NHS, toured the historical homes of Exeter, where Mrs. Alan B. Shepard of Derry was tour chairman.

 

Julia Wallace Gage, D.A.R. ID Number 49571, was a descendant of Sgt. Bartholomew Wallace, daughter of Austin E. Wallace and Susan L. (French) Wallace, granddaughter of Luther Wallace and Elizabeth Bell, great-granddaughter of Bartholomew Wallace, Jr., and Fanny Foster, great-great granddaughter of Bartholomew Wallace and Edith Wood.  Bartholomew Wallace (1753-1828) served in 1776 as a sergeant in Capt. Joseph Rea’s 6th Company, 8th regiment, as well as in Capt. Wood’s company of coast defense, Massachusetts militia.  He was born in Beverly.  (from D.A.R. Lineage Books, Ancestry.com).

 

Julia died May 11, 1964, at eighty years old. She is buried at Edgewood Cemetery in Nashua.


Last Tour: And the Bride Wore…: A Showcase of 150 Years of Nashua Bridal Fashion

When: December 16, 2023, 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Where: Abbot-Spalding House, 1 Nashville Street, Nashua, NH

For more information, please visit our Events Page.

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