On display

Photos, documents and memorabilia from weddings past are included in a current display at the Bailey House sponsored by the Rockwall County Historical Foundation.

Several years ago, 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, provided blood tests and a night watchman at the courthouse, Gene Payne, doubled as the deputy county clerk. 

Mildred Barnes, justice of the peace of Precinct 1, who served the unexpired term of her husband, sometimes married as many as 15 couples on a weekend.

Barnes, one of only a few female peace justices in Texas, married more than 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.

The Rockwall County Historical Foundation is recognizing this distinction with a display of vintage local wedding photographs and memorabilia in the Bailey House continuing through Aug. 22 during regular operating hours, 1-5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. 

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. Also, 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 us know,” a foundation spokesperson said. “We welcome the opportunity to showcase the rich unique history of the smallest county in Texas.”

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