A Bridal Collaboration: Texas-style!

The Texas Brides CollectionMy great-great-great-grandfather, Reverend Thomas Hanks lived in Tennessee in the early part of the 19th century. A circuit riding minister for the Primitive Baptist Church, he had the traditional family “itchy foot” and left his wife and children behind to explore new worlds with the Gospel in mind.

His wanderings took him across the swamps and rivers of Tennessee and Arkansas to the fertile land of Texas, then part of Mexico.

True to his calling, “Daddy” Hanks slipped in and out of Roman Catholic Texas, illegally preaching, baptizing and also marrying.

Since he was a Baptist, not a Catholic priest, all the marriages he conducted were illegal. Once Texas became a republic, however, Hanks obtained a legal license in Nacogdoches and rode the circuit once more, to remarry everyone legally.

A Centennial of Texas Baptists notes the response at one lonely farmhouse:

One “bride” was in the cow pen when the preacher appeared with the astounding tidings that she must go through another ceremony if she would be a lawful wife.

She washed her hands obediently, but permitted one doubtful murmur to escape. “All right, Daddy Hanks, but I have a good notion not to have Mr. Gilliland this time. I know too much about him now.”

I thought of this story while interacting with my fellow writers in The Texas Brides Collection. Four of my co-writers were Texas brides themselves: Kathleen Y’Barbo, Lynette Sowell, DiAnn Mills and Darlene Franklin. We drove through Texas on our honeymoon, so the Lone Star state does remind me of romance and a bright future—as it does in the nine novellas in our collection.

Lynette Sowell, perhaps, had the most “Texas-style” wedding in that her husband’s groom cake was in the shape of Texas. The fact it had a Starship Enterprise piped on top in icing was testimony to another important cultural joy in his life. (Lynette wouldn’t let him wear a Starfleet shirt during the actual ceremony, however).

Lynette and Darlene both are native New Englanders who married men in Texas. For Darlene’s family the rehearsal dinner included a lesson in the definition of sweet tea on a steamy June evening. To her mother, tea was a hot drink, but she quickly learned that sweet tea is what the rest of us call “iced tea.”

Kathleen actually eloped to Hawai’i for her wedding–which is where her groom was on temporary duty at the time. But they’re both native Texans (Kathleen’s ancestors go back 10 generations), and they had a wedding reception in Texas, which is close enough in our book!

(Our other “pen pals” include Darlene Mindstrup and Tamela Hancock Murray)

What would makes a Texas Brides story? Click to Tweet

In The Texas Brides Collection, we include tales of young widows struggling on farms, horse ranches and even a river supply landing, when they meet men (un)willing to help them in the 19th century. Lawmen, in the form of Texas Rangers in several stories, represent order and devotion during an unsettled time. The stories also include reformed men and women trying to build new lives for themselves following troubling pasts. Two former gamblers determine to change their lives and live in peace.

Really, all these stories lack is a Reverend Thomas Hanks moseying up to the farmhouses with a slow drawl–though his son does make an appearance in my An Inconvenient Gamble– as a justice of the peace, he performs a wedding in the nick of time.


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1 Comment

  1. JaniceG

     /  June 6, 2013

    Very interesting, the thought of thinking you are legally married when you are not. Wonder how the couples handled that with asking for forgiveness for living in sin or if they did not take it so seriously.

    I signed up to receive your blog by e-mail so I can be entered in your contest. I really like your writing style. Since our son is moving to Texas that gives me even more motivation to read your book!

    You may want to check out bookfun.org and consider doing some kind of promotion there. Since they started doing the magazine it seems to be getting more and more members.

    Blessings, Janice G


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