This month, Three Valley Museum is hosting a series of stories about Bryan County’s history at the gazebo on the courthouse lawn.
On Wednesday, the series began with Judge Farrell Hatch exploring Durant’s past as a well-known place to get hitched.
“Durant was a popular spot to get married quickly,” he said.
According to Hatch, many love-struck couples escaped to Durant to avoid Texas’ three day waiting period on blood tests.
Oklahoma did not have this waiting period and Texans could cross the Red River, get blood tests done and walk to the courthouse to get married in the same day. Couples were married at all hours of the day and night.
One notable couple to get married at the Bryan County Courthouse was Rosemary Clooney, George Clooney’s aunt, and her husband Jose Ferrer. Guests were able to view a copy of the couple’s marriage license.
Former president Bill Clinton’s father was also married in Durant. There is a rumor that Lee Harvey Oswald’s widow, Marina, came to Durant to get married, but left before saying her vows due to being followed by the press.
In an article in The Daily Oklahoman, former county clerk Louise Gentry said the court clerk’s office recorded 200 to 300 marriages per month. “I knew the names of more counties in Texas than I did Oklahoma,” she was quoted as saying.
Many stories and laughs were shared as the audience discussed this remarkable aspect of Bryan County history.
Museum Curator Nancy Ferris said she plans to hold a renewal of vows sometime next year for couples that had traveled to Bryan County to get married.
“I’d like to get as many people back as we can,” she said.
Next Wednesday, Judy Polson will uncover the origins behind the statue of the Confederate soldier on the courthouse lawn.
“Come back as we take another bite of out Bryan County History,” Ferris told the audience.
These stories will continue every Wednesday in June, from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. People are invited to bring a brown bag lunch and enjoy the story telling.