Weddings are often a time for people to gather and renew old-time relationships. This was particularly true in the older days when slower forms of transportation were all that was available. Here’s a look back on some of the wedding celebrations that occurred in the area.
Out of all the weddings that have occurred in this region, one perhaps has the best surrounding story, a story good enough that it ran in newspapers across the country. It was a double wedding that involved the sister of noted cowboy Arizona Charlie Meadows. Here’s what the Aug. 12, 1890 Arizona Republican had about this unique wedding.
A Frontier Wedding
Marriage on Horseback at Payson, Arizona
“Two Hundred Mounted Persons Witness the Double Ceremony — The Wedding Presents are Captured on the Range.
“Charley Meadows, Jack Brown and George Felton, three representative cowboys of the Tonto cattle ranges, arrived yesterday from Payson. They give the details of a most unique double wedding that occurred in Payson last Friday.
“For many months two pairs of young people at that place had loved, much in the old-fashioned way. Their names were Thomas Beach and Maggie Meadows and Charles Cole and Julia Hall.
“Early last week an entrance into the blissful state of matrimony was determined upon by both couples and it was agreed that the event should be made a noteworthy one.
“Invitations were sent asking the attendance of friends for fifty miles around. At the appointed time, about noon on Friday, the guests assembled on the main street of Payson to the number of fully 200. Every one, man or woman, was mounted. When all was ready, the two couples rode on spirited steeds, to the center of the gathering, the brides dressed in riding habits, the grooms in regular cowboy regalia of big hat, leather leggings and spurs.
“The local Justice of the Peace, Judge Birch, also bestride of a horse, was awaiting them, and, in the briefest of a legal ceremony, spliced them as fast as the law could do it. He followed up with a fatherly speech and only omitted the usual custom of kissing the bride.
“After congratulations had been extended to the happy couples, the presents were announced. One of the presents, offered by Charley Meadows, brother of one of the brides, was as many head of his cattle as the married pairs could find and brand between then and sundown. The chase was at once began, the young women, who are expert riders, carrying the branding irons and assisting in tying down the cattle. A large number of the wedding guests followed and highly enjoyed the sport, though taking no hand in it. As the result of the round-up, each married pair secured eighteen head of stock.
“In the evening a breezy ball wound up, in true frontier style, the festivities of the day.”
Another interesting wedding is one that occurred in Payson in 1908 in the old Herron Hotel. Keep in mind that the Northern Gila County Historical Society’s Rim Country Museum features a building that is a replica of the Herron Hotel building. Here’s how the Arizona Silver Belt described that wedding in a Jan. 12, 1908 article.
PROMINENT COUPLE UNITED AT PAYSON
by Special Correspondent
“PAYSON, Ariz., January 10. - On Monday, January 6, there was a wedding in Payson that was quite a social event. The contracting parties were Drayton C. Martin and the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A.B. Peach, Miss Edith, a sister of Mrs. I.D. Lowthian, of Globe. The ceremony was performed in the Herron hotel. The reception hall was beautifully decorated with evergreen. Promptly at 7 p.m. the bell rang out and the bridal procession formed under the white bell in the center of the bridal arch. A short though impressive ceremony was performed by Judge J.O. Hill. The bride was handsomely gowned in white silk with veil and orange blossoms. Miss Mae Herron, acting as her maid of honor, was lovely in a gown of lace over white silk. The groom was attended by Harry Peach, a brother of the bride.
“After the ceremony the guests repaired to the dancing hall and enjoyed the evening dancing to the Goodfellow music until mid night, when a wedding supper was served at the Herron hotel. It was a sumptuous feast and was greatly enjoyed by all. After the supper the guests returned to the dancing hall and danced until dawn.
“Mr. and Mrs. Martin left Payson, where the bride was a universal favorite, Wednesday morning. They will go immediately to Springerville, where Mr. Martin has a home awaiting them. Mr. Martin is a forest supervisor stationed at Springerville.”
All night dances were not uncommon back in the day, and it seems to be a common thing with weddings. They were true celebrations that united people from all around. But as the previous story shows, winter weddings weren’t uncommon, though folks had to fight the snow as this last story shows.
WEDDING AT PAYSON
Andrew Ogilvie and Miss Agnes Lazear United in Marriage Last Thursday.
“PAYSON, February 17 - Thursday evening, February 13, Andrew Ogilvie and Miss Agnes Lazear were married at the bride’s home at Star Valley, seven miles east of Payson. Although the ground was covered with a deep snow, and it was a bitter cold night, with the thermometer registering near zero, the house was filled with guests to witness the ceremony.
“In the living rooms, lighted by the blaze of the logs piled high in the fireplace, Judge J.O. Hill performed the impressive ring ceremony.
“The bride, a decided brunette, looked as radiantly happy as a bride should. Her veil and orange blossoms, and dress of white net, daintily trimmed with lace and insertion, were very pretty.
“After the congratulations of the family and guests, Mr. and Mrs. Ogilvie led the way to the large room up stairs, where dancing was enjoyed until midnight, when the wedding supper was served. After supper the dance was resumed and lasted until dawn.
“After the guests had departed for their several homes, Mr. and Mrs. Ogilvie went to their home already furnished and awaiting them in Star Valley.”
That clip was from the February 19, 1908 Arizona Silver Belt. Ogilvie was related to the Goodfellows of the Natural Bridge. Andrew and Agnes would eventually have five children, including Anna Mae Deming, who was the longtime weather lady in Payson. There is a park in Payson named for Deming and her home on Main Street is being preserved by the Arizona Heritage Research Foundation.