Grant allows a Nacogdoches museum to preserve the fabric of history

By Holley Nees - bio | email

Nacogdoches, TX (KTRE) –Two wedding dresses, more than a century old, with a connection to a United States Senator and Sam Houston are now preserved.

Thanks to a $3,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Stephen F. Austin's Stone Fort Museum can preserve two historic wedding dresses.

More than 150 years of history is hidden in the folds of Anna Raguet Irion and her daughter, Harriet Irion Taylor's wedding dresses.

They are special gowns now preserved for future generations.

"To be able to have even the dress is very rare and to be able to have an object that has retained its story, that's particularly important because many of the objects in the museum did not retain their story," said museum curator Carolyn Spears.

"Anna Raguet was my grandmother's grandmother," explained Sharon Rulfs Kerr.

Kerr said her mother was the last one to wear Anna Raguet Irion's wedding dress.  It's believed a married Sam Houston courted her.  He was later granted a divorce, but Raguet had already moved on.

"She refused him and chose to marry instead Robert Irion, who in fact had delivered a majority of the love letters between Anna Raguet and Sam Houston," said Spears.

For Kerr, the Stone Fort Museum now houses pieces of her family's history and gives her a connection to a U.S. Senator from Texas.

"I think that having her dress from 1840 is very special and then her daughter married my great, great grandfather and mother's son and so there's just a wonderful connection to be able to see her beautiful dress and the delicate detail on it and I'm so pleased that it's been restored," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Saturday, visitors came to see the oldest town in Texas' newly preserved history.

"I think the wedding dresses are absolutely beautiful and so well preserved and it's so great to see something that old," explained visitor Kathryn Robertson.

"They're beautiful," said visitor Bonnie Ericson.  "Just gorgeous, it takes you back in time."

For now, a piece of Texas history will be held together longer in the fabric of these dresses.

The dresses will stay on display for about two months.  Then, they will be put into storage to prevent damage and rotated back out later.

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