BUCKHANNON — At high noon on a recent summer day as a gentle breeze helped cool the sweltering temperatures beneath the massive Pringle Tree, a local couple exchanged vows in a unique ceremony.
For Sharon and Alan Talbott, the Civil War-theme wedding —complete with historical costumes, swords and even a cannon — was something that combined their interest in history with a little fun thrown in.
Sharon Talbott said, “When he asked me to marry him, the only three things he wanted was Jimmy Waugerman to be his best man, Steve Holmes — a Navy buddy — to be the minister and a Civil War theme wedding.”
So after saying “yes” to the big question, Sharon then said “yes, yes and yes” and the planning began.
For Alan Talbott, who has an interest in the Civil War era and other historical time periods, combining the love of his life with another passion of his was something that he wanted to do.
Sharon Talbott said her interest in the Civil War era had deepened as she sought to learn more about her family history. She had been researching her family tree and found that part of her family fought in what would become West Virginia, while part fought in Virginia.
“When I met Alan, he did the cowboy shooting, he wore the Civil War uniform and everything and it all kind of fell into place,” she said.
As the Talbotts spent time together pre-marriage, Sharon joined her future husband in going to the cowboy shooting matches.
“We like to dress up when he does the cowboy shoots,” she said. “We go to prairie towns with old wild west saloons and the wives dress up along with the men.”
And the best part for Alan?
“I didn’t have to buy a suit,” he said with a smile.
Alan Talbott’s uniform is in line with a sergeant major in the calvary and close enough to the Civil War period that he felt it would fit in just fine.
So, what did the Talbotts’ friends and family think when they explained their idea for the wedding?
Sharon Talbott said, “They were not surprised.”
In fact, Alan Talbott added, “Most everybody said that was pretty cool.”
The Talbotts have friends who did something similar a few years ago, going with a cowboy theme.
Once the theme was settled, the plans snowballed from there, including where to hold the wedding and reception.
Alan Talbott’s home and the home where the couple will reside is on Pringle Tree Road and has a history all of its own.
“This house dates back to pre-Civil War,” he said. “It was built around 1850 and the lady who lived here at the time was a niece of Stonewall Jackson.”
Stonewall Jackson’s ties to central West Virginia are well-known, but many may not know that his siblings are buried in Upshur County. In fact, Stonewall Jackson’s brother is buried not far from Pringle Tree.
There was a log home nearby, destroyed by fire but which was always referred to as the Jackson home, according to Talbott.
“There were Jackson people in this area for sure.”
But back to the wedding.
The home the Talbotts now reside in was purchased by Alan Talbott’s grandfather JC “Junior” Reed in 1936 from Elizabeth “Betty” Dix, one of the children of John Dix.
There were no more heirs to pass the home down to and so it was sold.
“We are only the second family to own it,” Talbott said. “The Dix family were the original owners.”
Through research at the Upshur County Historical Society’s document repository, Talbott has been able to learn about the original owners of the home, the Dix family.
He even has a picture of the house that is believed to have been taken around 1866 that shows the Dix family spending an afternoon on the home’s massive front porch.
Of note is a large tree that now provides shade for the home but is missing entirely in the historical photo, according to Talbott.
But the Talbotts decided the wedding should take place just down the road at the historic Pringle Tree Park.
“The Pringle Tree property was part of this farm until 1964,” Talbott said.
At that time, Talbott’s family donated the area for the park to Upshur County in exchange for getting Pringle Tree Road paved.
“That was the main idea,” Talbott said. “We gave four or five acres to make it into a park in return to get a better road. In the winter time, you had to walk in or out or ride a horse.”
So, the couple chose to honor another piece of family history by having the ceremony at Pringle Tree Park and then having the reception at their home.
Sharon Talbott said, “The tree was an absolute gorgeous background.”
More than a year in advance, the couple was making plans for the big day to happen on July 7, 2012.
Little did they know that a week before the wedding, a massive windstorm would wreak havoc around the state, including in their own yard.
“The storm out here took three of our big maple trees,” Talbott said. “It also knocked off some siding to the house.”
So in the days prior to the wedding, Talbott was busy cleaning up — but he had a lot of help.
Lynn and Joseph Warner pitched in to help make sure the reception would go off without a hitch.
Lynn Warner also coordinated the reception and wedding cake, took care of the bridal party and “really outdid herself,” Sharon Talbott added.
There are many others the couple would like to thank, including Chris Wending of A.F. Wendling’s and Charlie and Kim Zirkle.
The Talbotts relied on local businesses wherever possible, having the rings custom made at Anderegg’s Jewelers in Buckhannon, tapping friend Al White of PDQ Print Shop in Clarksburg to do the announcements and making sure out-of-town guests would be close by at the new Microtel.
“It was really important to us that we stayed in our local area,” Sharon Talbott said.
Those out-of-town guests included the longest traveling guests — Les and Marilyn Dutton from Ontario, Canada.
The wedding party included Sally Talbott of Fayetteville, N.C. as maid of honor, Tammy Moody of Alum Bridge as matron of honor and Katelyn Wendling of Buckhannon as a junior bridesmaid.
Olivia Davis of Buckhannon was the flower girl.
The ceremony was performed by Steve Holmes from Genesee, Kan.
In addition to Waugerman as best man, Talbott also asked Larry Moody to be a groomsman.
Betty June and Dave Shepherd escorted the bride down the aisle.
Following the ceremony, Bob Grose and his son fired a cannon across the Buckhannon river.
The couple would also like to thank Tyler Miller for shuttling guests back and forth from the ceremony to the reception site and Russ Warner for capturing the event in photos.
The Talbotts described the entire event as “amazing.”
Sharon Talbott said, “I think the bottom line is even though it was hot, it was a such a family and close friend get-together, it was just wonderful.”