Historical Foundation exhibit at Bailey House pays tribute to Rockwall as ‘Wedding Capital of Texas’

ROCKWALL COUNTY, TX (July 7, 2020)  Did you know Rockwall was once known as the Wedding Capital of Texas?

In the 1940s and 50s, a marriage license could be obtained at all hours of the night –  thanks to a local doctor who kept his practice open late to provide blood tests, and a night watchman at the courthouse, Gene Payne, who doubled as the deputy county clerk.

Mrs. Mildred Barnes, Justice of the Peace of Precinct One, who served the unexpired term of her husband, sometimes married as many as 15 couples in a weekend.  Mrs. Barnes, one of only a few female JPs in Texas, married over 6,000 couples between the years 1952 and 1957. That practice was ended in the late 1950s when wedding business operations in the smallest county in Texas were required to keep regular business hours, closing at 5 p.m.

Please join the Rockwall County Historical Foundation in recognizing this  unusual distinction with a display of vintage local wedding photographs and memorabilia in the Bailey House beginning July 3 through August 22 during regular operating hours, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Included in the display will be a photograph of Glenn and Orpha (Bailey) Cross who married on July 3, 1933, and the dress worn by the bride for her wedding.  In addition, examples of ladies’ hats and fashions will be featured.

If you have a treasured family artifact you are willing to place on loan during the exhibit, please let the RCHF know.  They welcome the opportunity to showcase the rich unique history of the smallest county in Texas.

Submitted by Carolyn Francisco, edited for publication in Blue Ribbon News. 


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