Herald JournalHerald Journal, July 18, 2005

Antique gown passed through five generations

By Liz Hellmann

More than just a mere hand-me-down, an antique baptismal gown has been baptizing five generations of a family for more than a century.

Lindon Scheid was the first to be baptized in the gown, followed by his three daughters, who all lived in Winsted.

“It started with my dad in 1892,” Cecile Laxen, Scheid’s daughter, said.

The gown was then passed to Scheid’s eldest daughter, Eileen Knott.

“My oldest sister had it and we just decided to use it until we couldn’t use it anymore,” Laxen said.

And use it they did. The gown has been donned by at least 36 family members throughout the years. Most of whom have been baptized at Holy Trinity Catholic church.

Laxen, Knott, and their sister Florence Westrup were all baptized in the gown.

“Their children and all my children were baptized in it,” Laxen said.

The gown consists of a thin, underlying slip, with embroidery towards the bottom.

As it was used more and more, the gown became fragile and started to come apart at the top.

In March 1999, Westrup’s great-granddaughter, Brianna, became the last in the long familial line to wear the antique at her baptism.

Laxen’s sisters decided Laxen should take care of the gown when it’s purpose had been fulfilled.

“They gave it to me to display if we couldn’t use it anymore,” Laxen said.

The gown is now being preserved by Laxen, as a family heirloom and keepsake.

“It became so fragile, instead of storing it, I framed it and put the information on it,” Laxen said.

Forever a part of the family’s history, the gown finally rests on Laxen’s bedroom wall. Underneath the gown are printed the names and dates of all 36 family members baptized in the gown, and whose children they were.

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