An Early Washington County Wedding

Among the early settlers of the territory of Washington County, Mo., was one Henry Padgett, better known, however, as Henry Fry, who settled at Big River Mills, near the eastern line of the county, as it was originally organized. Miss Elizabeth Baker was also among the first settlers of that neighborhood. These parties contracted to marry, and, there being no minister of the gospel, nor magistrate then in that vicinity, it was planned to invite a party of attendants and go to Ste. Genevieve, and there have the marriage solemnized by the Catholic priest. It was also designed to take provisions along for a good supper, and after supper to have a dance.

Accordingly, at the appointed time, the whole party, consisting of the bride and bridegroom, five or six young ladies, and an equal number of young men, all on horseback, and two wagons loaded with poultry, bear meat, venison, maple sugar, wild honey, etc., set out for Ste. Genevieve. All moved along merrily until their were near their destination, when they were halted by a band of about sixty Kickapoo Indians, who took from the wagons and their contents, and stripped all the horseback riders naked, except the bride, on whom they left one undergarmet, and then bade them mount their steeds and proceed on their way, doing them no other harm. Thus the wedding party advanced, gentlemen in front and ladies in the rear, and halted in the timber near the village of Ste. Genevieve, while the bridegroom advanced to within hearing distance of the dwelling of a Frenchman in the suburbs. Loud calling brought the Frenchman out, and to him the signal of distress was given.

Being a kind-hearted man, he went to the relief of the intended husband, and after hearing explanations returned to into the village, made a quick canvass for clothing, and soon gathered an entire outfit for the parties in distress. Being reclothed in borrowed garmets, the wedding party entered the village and went to the church, found the priest, and the contracting parties were married as though nothing had happened; but the supper from their own provisions was not prepared, and, as the clothing did not exactly fit each individual, the dance was postponed.

It is said that Padgett lived to a great age - considerable over a hundred years. The truth of this narrative is vouched for by old citizens who learned the facts from the early settlers living when the incident occurred.

From The History of Washington County 1888, by Goodspeed.

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This page was last updated on Tuesday, 27-Mar-2012 09:10:34 MDT.

Larry Flesher Washington County, MO