On December 14, 1915, thousands of people gathered on the state line in downtown Texarkana to unite a girl from Texas with a boy from Arkansas. The wedding was a project of the Texarkana Board of Trade, now known as the Chamber of Commerce, and designed to promote the two cities (Texarkana, AR and Texarkana, TX), and draw attention to both the unique geography and spirit of the people of our cities. Eight couples applied for what was considered a very nontraditional wedding concept for its time, and from those one couple was chosen - Mr. Brandon* Gray and Ms. Irene Taylor.
Businesses and organizations all over Texarkana rallied to set the young couple up with the things they would need to start their life together. Things like wedding rings, insurance, phone service, laundry service, a refrigerator and more were donated to the couple. Perhaps the most incredible gift that the couple received was a new home - a “bungalow” that was constructed by local craftsmen with donated time and materials and built in one day. Construction began at 8 a.m. on December 15, the day after the wedding, and the couple was able to move in at 5 p.m. that same day.
The wedding itself involved two ministers, one from Texas and one from Arkansas, two licenses, and two short ceremonies, between which the bride and groom simply stepped across the state line to make the union legal in both states. It took place on a dais (pictured above) that was placed between what is now Magness Financial Services and the lot that would later become the Grim Hotel.
A film was made of the entire event (and may actually have been the purpose of the event), but whether any copies still exist this writer is not sure. The unique "double" wedding made newspapers around the area and publicity pamphlets were mailed around the nation.
A little over 100 years later Main Street is hosting dinner in the very same downtown, with a table stretching from the Post Office/Courthouse at the head of State Line Avenue, south to the site of the historic wedding (and a bit beyond).
We are excited to see the community come out for what we are hoping is the historic event of our century, Dine on the Line 2016 - with vendors to browse, great music from The Moss Brothers Band, and dinner from Naaman’s Championship Barbecue.
There will also will be activities for kids - including a sand dig close to Broad Street - and we are offering a lower priced ticket for kids under 12 to make this event accessible for families.
Tickets can be purchased here.
Thanks to Jamie Simmons at Texarkana Museum Systems for providing the photo of the 1915 wedding and the spark of interest for this story.
Editorial note: some of the primary source documents used for this blog post referred to the groom as “Brandon” and others “Brandom” Gray, we were not able to verify which one is accurate but if anyone has any further information, we will be happy to make the correction.