The History of Washington County, Missouri, published in 1888 by the Goodspeed Publishing Company includes the following account of an unforgettable wedding experience
An Unforgettable Wedding - A Primitive Marriage
The foregoing comprises an extensive list of the names of the first permanent settlers of Washington County. These people had to endure all the hardships incident to pioneer life on the frontier, being compelled to contend with the Indians and wild animals in their wild and savage natures. If living they could tell of many thrilling adventures and amusing incidents, nearly all of which have been lost to history. One unpleasant and novel incident, however, has been preserved by tradition, which is here given: 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 peltry, bear meat, venison, maple sugar, wild honey, etc., set out for Ste. Genevieve. All moved along merrily until they were near their destination, when they were halted by a band of about sixty Kickapoo Indians, who took from them the wagons and their contents, and stripped all the horse-back riders naked, except the bride, on whom they left one undergarment, 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 into the village, made a quick canvass for clothing, and soon gathered an entire outfit for the parties in distress. Being re-clothed in borrowed garments, 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-considerably 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.
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