This February, the Brenham Heritage Museum is proud to celebrate Black History Month by presenting John & Mary Marks: A Love Story That Transcends Time and Boundaries, which will be on display in the Blue Bell Gallery beginning February 16, 2023.
This fascinating exhibit is comprised of images dating back to the early 1800s. Visitors will explore photos, diary excerpts, and objects centered around the life and times of John & Mary Marks, two of Washington County’s earliest known African American settlers. The display traces John and Mary Marks’ lives from the early 1800s when they first arrived in Texas and explores their connections to the West Indies, San Felipe, the “Old Three Hundred”, the Methodist church, and well-known Texas pioneers!
“To date, there have been very few historic accounts about early African Americans who were among the first settlers in Washington County,” said Natearah Austin, Vice Chair of the Brenham Heritage Museum Board of Directors. “Uncovering and sharing local untold stories is at the heart of the museum’s work. We are excited to share this story about the union of Mary Marks, a former head servant at Whiteside’s Tavern in San Felipe, and John Marks, a well-loved Methodist preacher.”
The exhibit also reflects on some of the challenges historians face in piecing together sources of information, particularly for African American history. As more information was discovered about John and Mary Marks, the teams relied on a variety of sources including archivists at the Southern Methodist University’s Bridwell Library Archives, Methodist church records, local historians, Washington County deed records, and even handwritten journals. Together, these pieces of information paint a picture that tells this unique story.
In addition to this featured exhibit for Black History Month, the newly renovated Brenham Heritage Museum includes a variety of family friendly, interactive exhibits including stories about Washington County’s veterans, a video jukebox, and touch screen maps linked to key historic figures.
This exhibit is available during regular Museum hours, Wednesday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm, at 105 S Market Street in Brenham. Groups of 10 or more can call the museum at 979-830-8445 to schedule specific times for tours.