By Camille DeVaul and the Paso Robles Area Historical Society 

In May of 2015, the Paso Robles Area Historical Society (PRAHS) received an intriging donation — a box filled with history, nostalgia, and a touch of mystery. Within this box lay a carefully wrapped, very old, yet remarkably preserved dress. Alongside it, a wedding photo captured the occasion of Fred and Katie Meier’s union, immortalized by J.B. Ward, a Paso Robles photographer. Instantly recognizable, it was Katie’s wedding gown.

Traveling Wedding Dress PRAHS 3
Photo provided by PRAHS

This serendipitous donation wasn’t without intrigue. Discovered at an estate sale in Southern California, the donor, recognizing the significance of the wedding photo’s origin, reached out to the PRAHS. Thus began a journey of unraveling the tale behind Katie’s wedding gown.


Initial inquiries sparked curiosity about Katie’s identity, the couple’s marriage details, and their connection to Paso Robles. Despite limited leads, the volunteers at PRAHS persisted.

Researching volunteers at the museum discovered two Paso Robles newspapers with published articles detailing the wedding — one even detailing the wedding dress Katie wore as a traveling gown. PRAHS docents JoAnn Ernst and June Bertoni recognized their own family members in many of the photos. 

The wedding occurred on Thanksgiving Eve, November 28, 1898, at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Geneseo-Creston. Reverend Claus solemnized their vows, which were witnessed by loved ones gathered in celebration.

Katie, born Catherina Margaretha Paulus, came from a pioneering family that settled in the Geneseo area during the mid-1880s. Volunteers did further research on the extended family, going back to Wisconsin and Germany, and labeled and arranged the photos. 

She was the daughter of David Paulus and Marie Anna “Mary” Boehner of Creston. The Paulus family emigrated from Wisconsin to the Creston/Geneseo area in the mid-1800s.

Fred was born Frederick Meier in Germany. The 1900 census shows him as owning a farm in the Salinas Township. Katie’s parents were living next to them, as was Katie’s brother and family.

The completed binder is now in the family history section in the PRAHS archives. The gown and a few of the photos are with the Creston display in the museum.

The couple had a son, Walter, and the family flourished in the embrace of the Creston community. However, life eventually brought them to Orange County, where they started a new chapter.

Yet, amidst life’s changes and relocations, Katie’s wedding gown remained a cherished relic, a tangible link to their past. Its return to Paso Robles, after 125 years, is a testament to the enduring power of history and the profound connections it fosters.

As this artifact finds its rightful place within local history, one can’t help but imagine Katie’s joyous surprise. Her beloved gown, once a witness to her vows, now stands as a beacon of heritage, ensuring that her story, like so many others, will be remembered for generations to come.


Copies of Paso Robles Press Magazine are directly delivered to 23,000 readers in zip codes 93446, 93451, and 93465 and 2,000 dropped with support from advertisers and subscribers. Together, we are Making Communities Better Through Print.™

To subscribe or advertise, click here.