KERKHOVEN, Minn. — For years the dress that Ellamae Henry wore on the day she married Jerry Henry in 1958 hung in the “antique room” at the Henry farm house north of Kerkhoven in Swift County, Minn.
In a room that had lace bed covers, old dolls, photos, a baby buggy that Henry pushed in the Willmar Kiddie Parade when she was 7 years old and other family heirlooms, Henry’s simple, yet elegant wedding dress was always the star of the show.
The dress was always there, said Darlene Henry, one of Ellamae’s daughters.
“Her wedding dress was always on display,” she said. “It was absolutely beautiful.”
Ellamae Henry died July 28 at the age of 79, and about a week later her adult children were sorting through items at the farmhouse.
That’s when someone noticed the dress was gone.
“You walked in that room and the dress wasn’t there,” said Darlene Henry, who lives in Jordan, Minn.
An important part of their mom’s history was missing.
The dress had a form-fitted top with a “very slim waist” and a skirt with layers of lace and tulle. Ellamae wore the dress on her 25th wedding anniversary and could fit into it until her 50th wedding anniversary, Darlene said.
The siblings recalled that their mother had once talked about having her wedding dress cut up and made into mementos, like a ring-bearer pillow that could be used at future weddings.
But one daughter said she had talked her mom out of doing that and instead encouraged her to have the dress repaired for granddaughters to wear at their future weddings — such as the one who got married just this past weekend who had wanted to wear the dress, Darlene said.
While they can’t say for sure what their mother decided to do with the dress, they are convinced that it’s currently in the hands of a seamstress. But they don’t know who it is or where the dress is.
For the past month, the family has called every seamstress and every business in west central Minnesota that they can think of that could possibly have the dress.
Darlene Henry said she’s called at least 35 different places in towns stretching from Alexandria to Benson to Sauk Centre to Willmar, asking about the dress. Those seamstresses have also called people they know that sew.
They checked their mom’s computer to look for messages on marketplace sites, they checked her cellphone records for possible connections, they searched her Google Maps app to try to trace where she may have driven: She drove frequently to visit family in Duluth, Nebraska and South Dakota. They also posted messages on social media.
So far they’ve turned up nothing.
Henry suspects the seamstress may be an older person who doesn’t use Facebook.
“We really want to find the dress,” she said. “Somebody has it.”
Henry said she hopes that whoever has the dress was given instructions to repair it — and not cut it up into pillows.
There are lots of grandchildren and great-grandchildren who would love to wear the dress at their own weddings someday, she said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Darlene Henry at 612-425-5655 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Gerryann Henry Thompson at 320-212-1633.