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Wichita Falls Living Magazine

An Heirloom

Written by Rebecca Rister  |  Photos provided by Ross Family

Five generations have cherished and worn an amazing handmade Christening gown. 

Ruth Ross of Lawton comes from a long line of believers who know the importance of passing down to the next generation what matters most…faith & family. 

Ruth’s Great-Grandmother, Laura Elizabeth Howard Knox, lovingly made a christening gown by hand for her precious child, Ruth in the 1890s. Store bought lace was not an option on their farm in South Fork, Missouri, so she handmade the tatting which embellishes the edge of this special garment. She made two gowns in total. One for Ruth and another made when she had her son, M. Howard Knox {Ruth Ross’s Maternal Grandfather}. Little did Laura know her hard work and each loving stitch would still be enjoyed and cherished over 100 years later by her Great-Great-Great Granddaughter, Gemma Elizabeth Means, in Burkburnett, Texas. This precious 1-year -old also shares in her name {Elizabeth}. Gemma Elizabeth was christened this past November 7th at the St. Jude Catholic Church in Burkburnett.

As you can see through the years the christening gown was passed down to the next generation, with thanks given to Howard’s only child, also named Elizabeth {Knox} who cherished her grandmother’s handiwork and saved the gowns for future generations. Descendent, Roy Ross served in the Korean War and was stationed at Fort Sill which brought the family to the Lawton/Wichita Falls area. 

When asked what it means to have this treasure being used over 100 years later, Ruth answered, “It touches my heart to be connected not only by the gown but in Christ.” Ruth really bragged on her wonderful daughter-in-law, Kaila Means, who not only allowed her baby girl, Gemma to wear the gown, but was excited to share in and pass on this Knox family tradition. Now the gown, which is still in excellent condition, will be saved for Gemma to continue this custom. 

If your family is not one to hold onto sentimental items, it is never too late to start. You can be the ‘Laura’ in your family. You may not be able to handmake a precious Christening gown, but don’t be afraid to hold onto your child’s favorite outfit, book, or toy. The tradition of passing on family bibles, which listed it’s members through the generations, is no longer done, but who is to say you can’t be the one to bring this precious practice back with your family. However, we all know that what we pass on in our love of God and family is what will truly surpass our lives and be enjoyed by our own Great-Great-Great Grandchildren. As it is written: “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.” Deuteronomy 7:9  †


Spring 2022 Issue
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