Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Local News

June 6, 2014

A match made in history

GLASGOW — Todd Watt and Tara Cockerel will get married on Saturday in a Civil War-era wedding at Old Mulkey Meeting House State Historic Park in Tompkinsville.

Watt, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., met Cockerel, of Louisville, when she and her children visited a 9th Ky. U.S. living history event in June 2012 at the state historic site.

“She took her kids on a spur-of-the-moment trip from their house in Louisville and was looking for something to do,” Watt said.

Cockerel consulted the Kentucky Travel website and learned about the living history event at Old Mulkey.

“She had never been there and and had never heard about it,” he said. “Her little boy was interested in the Civil War.”

Watt talked to Cockerel’s son and answered his questions that day. Later, Cockerel and her children expressed interest in joining the 9th Ky. U.S.

“I actually helped her find a unit closer to Louisville, but since they had met us, they decided to stay with us,” Watt said.

The original 9th Ky. U.S. Unit was formed near Old Mulkey, which is why the re-enactors return each year to do a living history at the state historic site.

Watt and Cockerel became friends and talked for several months.

“We were both actually married at that time, but neither of us were very happy,” he said. “We just became very good friends. We hit it off and talked a lot. Finally, we just decided we were meant to be.”

They discovered that they had several things in common.

Watt has two children who are the same age as Cockerel’s children. The couple share the same birthday, even though there is seven years between them.

“We actually fell in love at a Civil War dance,” he said.

Looking back, Cockerel said she thought Watt asked her to dance out of politeness because she was alone.

It was much later that they both discovered it was at the dance when they each first felt a connection with each other, she said.

“Both of us just had the fireworks during the dance,” Watt said.

The couple decided to have a Civil War-era wedding at Old Mulkey, since that is where they met.

The 9th Ky. U.S. will do another living history Friday through Sunday at the state historic site. This time the re-enactment will feature a wedding.

Sheila Rush, park manager, has been involved from the very beginning. She was at work at the park when Cockerel and her children came to see the 9th Ky. U.S. Living history in 2012.

She was also at work when she got an email from Watt in 2013 swearing her to secrecy.

“He wanted to know if he proposed to Tara when they are here if he can announce they are going to get married at Old Mulkey in 2014?” Rush said.

She immediately told him she would love for them to have their wedding at Old Mulkey.

“Instantly, for me, it was all about making it the best visitor experience it could be,” Rush said.

Watt and Cockerel will be married inside the meeting house, but their reception will take place on the church grounds.

The couple, with Rush’s help, have strived to make their wedding and reception as period-correct as possible.

During the Civil War, women did not wear white wedding dresses.

“Most people just wore their best church dress,” said Cockerel. “A lot of times they would just fancy up a dress they already had.”

Cockerel’s dress will be teal with white trim. Her bouquet will consist of wildflowers.

The couple’s children will also take part in the wedding.

“They are all of course going to be in fancy dresses that we borrowed,” Cockerel said.

Watt and Cockerel asked Rush to help find a band to perform at the reception.

She enlisted the assistance of the Friends of Old Mulkey who pledged money to hire a string band to play Civil War-era music at the wedding reception.

“We have a dance coach who is going to be able to lead us in period dancing,” Cockerel said.

They also researched what to serve during the reception. Typically, during the Civil War, couples did not have wedding cakes. Instead, they had tea cakes or cookies. So, Watt and Cockerel are having blueberry and applesauce cookies they intend to serve, along with punch to anyone who comes to the reception.

“I’m collecting punch cups and real napkins from every woman in Tompkinsville,” Rush said. “We want to keep it period accurate.”

Rush is even making the punch from a recipe Cockerel gave her.

There will also be a photographer who will shoot photographs using an 1840s camera.

“It’s such a unique thing. We have been successful in getting everything we wanted for the event except for a horse and buggy,” she said.

Initially, the plan was for Watt and Cockerel to leave the wedding in the horse and buggy, otherwise Rush said she thinks things have come together really well for the event. 

“We are really excited, because I think this is such a neat opportunity for everyone, particularly for people who are interested in living history,” she  said. “I think people who have never been to a living history can enjoy seeing those people dancing in period clothes. I’m even going to wear period clothes.” 

Cockerel said she never saw herself doing something like getting married as part of a Civil War-era living history event.

“It’s kind of like a fairy tale,” she said. “It just seemed like the perfect thing to do.”

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