The Marring Judge

In the years following World War II, Piggott became known as "the marrying town." Residents of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and other states flocked to Piggott for their nuptials...mainly because there was no three-day waiting period in Arkansas. As a result, thousands of couples were married in Piggott each year.  Piggott is located in the extreme northeast corner of Arkansas, the first county seat coming from the north and east.

Many families lost everything in the big flood of 1927, and by 1935 they were relocating to St. Louis. People worked there in the factories until 1945 then enlisted in the Army and served until the war was over. Following the war, they came back got a job, fell in love, got married.

The families in the St. Louis area like most young people of those times, had little money, and with no family to help financially, they opted for simple weddings and went to Piggott, Arkansas, and were married in the courthouse by Judge Thomas Arnold French.

Many of the couples wore their work clothes for the ceremony, but some stopped along the way and dressed up for the occasion.  The judge was marrying everyone right out in the hallway, but when he saw someone dressed up; he allowed them to come into his chambers.

This story is about how many long and successful marriages began in Piggott, "The Marrying Town."  Although the laws have changed in recent years, dozens of people still make the trip to Piggott to get married from all across the region.

Thomas Arnold French was my second cousin and is referred to by his family as “the marrying judge”.

by Gary McClure