Above, William C. Marmon wed Agnes Zacharriah Autry in a double wedding ceremony in the Coker Church in 1899. Photograph courtesy of Virginia Heimer Ohlenbusch from Haunting the Graveyard: Unearthing the Story of the Coker Settlement
In the late 1800s, itinerant photographers wandered the Texas countryside, making a living talking hardworking farming families into the need to document their lives on their homesteads. The result was that neighbors often had their farmstead portraits taken during the same time period.
In Haunting the Graveyard: Unearthing the Story of the Coker Settlement, published by the Coker Cemetery Association in 2019, I organized the book by a combination of themes and timelines. This meant that I used most of the itinerant farm photos in a chapter describing the efforts of those making a living in the area of San Antonio known as Buttermilk Hill. But this also meant my favorite details in two of these remained unlinked in the book.
Continue reading “Sisters like two peas in a pod: Perhaps they shared a wedding dress as well”
A hunt to view walls of ex votos painted on tin thanking El Senor de Villaseca for a multitude of miracles sent us to the Templo of Cata near a silver mine on the outskirts of Guanajuato. The Baroque-style church dates from the 1700s.
A mass for a small gathering of the faithful was underway when we arrived, so we waited in hopes of taking photos. But, unlike any service I have ever attended, when the elderly priest was assisted in leaving the altar, there was no stampede for the exits. Most of the parishioners remained in their pews, patiently waiting turns to kneel before the olive-skinned figure of Jesus on the cross – known as El Trigueno – to murmur their requests for assistance.
Fading bridal bouquets hang on the bannister leading to a small chapel tucked away upstairs near the front of the church. Our friend Claudio from Queretaro recalls the walls inside as covered with the testimonies of miners and their families. While Richard Ferguson on MexConnect reported tin ex votos were stacked 20-feet high on the walls in 1996, alas, they have disappeared.
Undeterred by the removal of the earlier ex votos, people whose prayers have been answered continue to leave their expressions of gratitude on hundreds of sheets of paper tacked up in this chapel. As the walls are covered by these more ephemeral offerings, older ones are unpinned, fluttering down to the floor.
ruins on the road to Cata
Bouquets are not the only wedding souvenirs found here. At the base of one of the walls, wedding gowns lie crumpled in heaps. Claudio believes these are left behind by brides to express their sincere hopes for long and happy marriages.
Again, we have no snapshots of these or the chapel. We did not want to intrude upon the earnest prayers of those inside.