Hand-me-down baptismal gown forms family bonds

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Hand-me-down clothing isn't always appreciated, but one North Dakota family takes pride in passing along a gently used garment.

Sixty-five babies have all been baptized in this gown. It was sewn in 1951, in Ellendale, N.D., where Dorothy Steinwand- Bobbe created it, in anticipation of her first baby. But, Dorothy's older brother ended up having a baby first making Greg Steinwand the first baby to wear it.

This is the first, and the most recent baby to be baptized in Dorothy's handmade gown.

"All my brothers and sisters, all my children, all my nieces and nephews have been baptized in this gown, and now my first granddaughter, Ella, will be the 65th baby to be baptized in the gown," said Todd Steinwand, Ella's grandfather.

"You know we always talk about learn about how the sacrament of baptism is about welcoming a child into the lords family and wrapping them in love and i think this gown is a physical embodiment of that thing," said Jill Kringstad, Ella's mother.

Dorothy was the creator and keeper of the dress, only requesting her family continue the tradition of keeping the records.

"It's over 60 years old, and it's still in incredible shape and not very much has had to be replaced on the gown and so she's done a really good job of maintaining it," said Kringstad.

Three generations later, it's traveled beyond North Dakota.

"It's been as far as Indiana, and Minnesota, Tennessee, Texas so it's kind of been all over the country," said Kringstad.

Creating a bond the Steinwand family can reflect on and share.

"My grandpa passed away 10 years ago so he never got the chance to meet Ella, or any of his other great grandchildren, but its really special to me that this comes from his family and his sister is the one that made it and he can still be a part of her special day even though he's not here and she's being wrapped in lots of love from a lot of different generations of Steinwand's,"said Kringstad.

Dorothy passed away at the end of October. but the funeral was a blessing in disguise because more family members were able to join in celebrating Ella's baptism, the 65th baby to wear the gown.

And Ella will be the last baby, baptized in the gown, that was personally made and maintained by Dorothy.

"I just hope she knows how many people were praying for her from the beginning and how many people love her and
I hope she knows when times gets tough that she can always turn to her family and to her faith and I hope she knows how grateful I am that God chose me to be her mom," said Kringstad.

A tradition the family says, will continue for generations to come.

Jill Kringstad says 64 out of the 65 family members are still alive who have been baptized in the gown and it's likely one of Dorothy's sisters will continue to maintain it after her passing.