Local History and Genealogy

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


Three-Day Festivities Observed Here in Colorful Wedding

Three days of joyous festivities last weekend marked the celebration of a double wedding in the local camp of gypsies, which is under the leadership of Steve Zeko.  The wedding occurred at the gypsy camp at the Round-up near the Ohio state line on US 20.
Sunday morning the festivities began with Marie and Anna Johnson, two sisters, as the brides, and Robert Miller and Steve Peet, who are cousins, the bridegrooms. The Brides were dressed in billowy white gowns, floor length, with white sashes.  Each wore finger-tip length ceils with head dress of lace decorated with flowers and colorful ribbon streamers.
At noon a feast was prepared in one of the tents.  The feast commenced with the official announcement of the marriage and was followed by toasts to the tow couples.  a loaf of bread was cut in two and the soft part taken out.  Salt was put into the cavity and then it was passed around the table and each guest at the wedding placed a substantial cash wedding present inside the hollow loaf.
A pig and a quarter of beef were barbecued on a long pole spit over a fire and then placed in the center of the table.  Other parts of the dinner included bread, a gypsy salad, special native hot sauce for the meat, relish and celery.
Following the feasting and toasting to the couples, the afternoon was spent in dancing in the open field to an orchestra, secured for the occasion. Couples danced in American style with some of the younger ones "jitterbugging."  Frequently the group would gather in a native dance somewhat like the American square dance, with everyone singing and swaying to stirring gypsy airs.  All of the women of the tribe were dressed in their most colorful billowy dresses.
Visitors from outside of the group  who attended the celebration were made welcome, and were solicited for fortune telling fees.
Shortly before six in the evening the orchestra led a grand procession finally depositing each of the brides at their new homes.
The gypsy ceremonies and celebration continued for three full days during which time the brides wore their wedding dresses. Then they discard their wedding veils and place on their head scarfs which indicated that they were then married women.
Steve Zeko, head of the tribe, said that they pay taxes in Steuben County and consider this their home and are proud to be citizens of Steuben County and Indiana.  To conform to the civil ceremony customs , he said, a civil marriage ceremony will be performed after the gypsy rites have been completed. 
About 100 gypsies from the tribe of more than 100 of which Steve Zeko is the head, were presnt at the ceremony.  The brides and bridegrooms were all members of the tribe,  It was reported that a dowry of between $5,000 and $6,000 was given by the fathers of the two young bridegrooms to the father of the brides.
When one guest asked where the couples were going on their honeymoon, a wise old member of the tribes grinned and said, "Every day is a honeymoon.  Tomorrow, or next week, whenever they choose, they may go to California, Florida, or eastern cities as they desire.  The gypsy is free to go when and where he pleases, so every day is a honeymoon to him.