Wedding dress

Image of wedding dress worn by Illinois First Lady Catherine Yates.
Worn by Illinois First Lady Catherine Yates, 1839

Sixteen-year-old Catherine Geers wore this dress when she married a young lawyer named Richard Yates in Jacksonville on July 9, 1839. The couple had five children, though one died in infancy, and one was struck by lightning and killed at age 11.

Catherine became Illinois' First Lady when her husband was elected governor in 1860. He held office through the Civil War and is known as Illinois’ War Governor. Catherine’s son, Richard Yates II, was elected Governor of Illinois in 1900. The Illinois State Museum’s collection includes several Yates family items of furniture and clothing.

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