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Fraktur Wedding Certificate of Eli Sigman and Rhoda Bost

Moose, Noah A.
Place Made:
Catawba County North Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
watercolor –ink –paper
Accession Number:
This is one of two fraktur made in 1842 by the artist Noah A. Moose; one was created to commemorate the marriage of Eli Sigman to Rhoda Clementine Bost, while the second was made to commemorate the birth of their son Marcus Lafayette Sigman. The pair was created about two years after the events they commemorated. The Sigman, Bost, and Moose families were all part of the Germanic migration that in the eighteenth century had settled in the Catawba/Alexander County, North Carolina, region.

SITTERS: Eli Sigman (1813-1858) was born in Catawba County (Lincoln County until 1842) to one of the many Sigmans living in the region; however, the identity of his parents is not completely clear at present.  The most likely candidates are Christopher Sigman (d.1828) and his wife Elizabeth.  In this Christopher Sigman’s 1828 estate papers, the administrator, another Christopher Sigman, agreed to pay a sum to “Elizabeth Sigman his wife” for ”taylors work,” as well as for a coat, a pair of stockings and 3  pairs of pantaloons.

Eli Sigman married Rhoda  Bost (1819-1896) on February 17, 1840. According to the 1850 census, Eli was a house carpenter, and he and Rhoda had four children living in the home, including Lafayette, the Marcus Lafayette Sigman for whom the second certificate was made.  When Eli died in 1858, he was buried in Old St. Paul’s Lutheran Church Cemetery near Newton, NC. (For some reason, Eli’s gravestone identifies his death date as 1848, but he is clearly listed in the 1850 census, and other family records indicate his actual death date was 1858.)

Rhoda Clementine Bost Sigman was the daughter of William Bost (1775-1840) and Catherine Ikerd Bost (d.1845). In the 1860 census—taken two years after Eli had died—she was identified as a farmer with seven younger people living with her, ranging in ages from 8 months to 23 years. Rhoda died in 1896 and like her husband, Eli, was buried in Old St. Paul’s Lutheran Church Cemetery.

Marcus Lafayette Sigman (1840-1864) was the son of Eli and and Rhoda Clementine Bost Sigman. He appears to have followed in his father’s woodworking footsteps; Lafayette was identified in the 1860 census as a 21-year-old carpenter. He enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1862 and unfortunately was killed in action at the Battle of the Wilderness in Orange County, Virginia, on May 5, 1864.

ARTIST: Noah A. Moose (1817-1874) grew up in Alexander County (the part that was Iredell until 1847) near the town of Taylorsville. The area was about 20 miles north of where the Sigman and Bost families lived. He was the eleventh of fourteen children born to Anthony Moose (1774-1856) and Mary (Heffner) Moose (1779-1860). Noah never married, and in the 1850 census he was listed as living in the household of his brother, David W. Moose, a house carpenter. At 33 years old, Noah was listed as practicing the trade of tailor, a trade he continued to claim in both the 1860 and 1870 census records as well. When he died in 1874, his inventory included several items related to his trade, including a large tailor’s table, tailor’s sheers, and tailor’s measure and tools. He was buried in the Taylorsville City Cemetery. 

Noah obviously had an artistic flair and took advantage of it to create at least these two decorative marriage and birth certificates, and, one can assume, colorful clothing like that depicted on the certificates. Rhoda’s clothing is particularly exuberant. Furthermore, might Noah have trained with tailor Elizabeth Sigman, the probable mother of Eli Sigman? That could be one explanation for Noah’s connection to the Sigman family. Another connection might be the woodworking trade, since Noah’s brother David was a house carpenter, like many of the Sigmans and Bosts.

RELATED OBJECTS: MESDA’s Catawba rooms from the Ephraim Perkins House are attributed by MESDA to the Bost family of builders. The 1841 probate inventory of Rhoda’s father, William Bost, strongly suggests that he was a woodworker. Listed in it were a large number of joiner’s tools, including planes, a turning lathe, glue, saws, bevels, and chisels. William’s brother Elias Bost (1772-1857) is a well documented carpenter. The house that he built for his own family still stands just south of Old St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.

The Bost family were probably also involved in the building of Old St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. There are a number of similarities between the woodwork at Old St. Paul’s Church and MESDA’s Ephraim Perkins House woodwork. Based on these design similarities and the close proximity of the Perkins House to the property of the Bost family (approximately 10 miles apart), one can conclude that MESDA’s interior was almost certainly created by the Bost family, which includes William, Elias, and Elias’s son Jonas Bost (1794-1870).  

When Rhoda died in 1896, her attorney was George W. Cochran, who had grown up in the Ephraim Perkins House.  George’s younger brother, M. J. Cochran, scribbled his name on the right pilaster of MESDA’s Perkins House bedchamber fireplace surround. It can still be read. 

In short, Rhoda’s father William, along with her uncle Elias and cousin Jonas, most likely helped build MESDA’s Catawba Rooms. (MESDA acc. 0000.16-.17)

Credit Line:
Partial gift of Betty and Jim Becher; MESDA Purchase Fund