Dancing Shoes

By Mary Rose Boswell | Photography by Turner Photography Studio | Posted on 08.03.16 – History, Timepiece

These shoes were made for dancing. Julianna Hoffman, at age 14, wore them at the Lafayette Ball on Dec. 30, 1824. The formal event was in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette, a Revolutionary War hero who visited Frederick as part of a nationwide tour.

How Julianna managed to attend the event is a mystery, but many local people knew Lafayette from their service in the war, and perhaps a member of Julianna’s family was one of them. Her outfit included a delicate two-layered white cotton dress, a train, white knit stockings, a pink- and-white fan, and a tortoise shell comb to ornament her hair. Her shoes were made of silk and were once a deep lavender color. Each shoe had ribbon laces and a rosette with a silver star.   

Seven years after the ball, Julianna married John Reich and they had six children. She died in 1882 and is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick. Her family saved her entire outfit from the ball, and 175 years after the ball, it was donated to the Historical Society of Frederick County by Michael and Marion Gannam.

Lafayette’s Ball was a major social event in Frederick’s history. For more information about Revolutionary War era entertainment in this region, attend the musical program “All Dressed Up and No Place to Go,” performed by Tasker’s Chance at the Historical Society of Frederick County, 24 E. Church St., on Saturday, Aug. 6, from 4 to 6 p.m. Frederick Town Fife and Drum will introduce the program.