Scenes And Sorrows: A Portrait Of Weeping Mary

Play associated audio

Texas is full of memorable town names — Blanket, Stagecoach, Domino and Paint Rock, to list just a few. Each has at least one tale behind it, and All Things Considered host Melissa Block has been telling some of them as part of the series Deep In the Heart Of (A Transforming) Texas.

One of them is Weeping Mary, an unincorporated town in rural east Texas. It was established as a "freedom colony" with land given to former slaves after the Civil War.

Photographer O. Rufus Lovett started photographing the residents of Weeping Mary in 1994. There are a few stories as to how the town got its name, but one tends to stick.

"There was a lady named Mary who lived there and folklore has it, anyway, that a white man wanted to purchase her land. And she did not want to sell it to a white man," Lovett says.

The man in question persuaded a black man to purchase the land for him instead.

"So Mary was tricked out of selling her land to another African-American," he says. "She became very distraught over this and wept and wept."

She became known as "Weeping Mary," and the community later adopted the name.

When Lovett first started taking photos in the town, getting anyone to share the origin story was tough.

"[I] had to do a little coaxing after visiting Weeping Mary over a period of time to even get the story from elders in the community," he says. "So this is front-porch lore in Weeping Mary."

And for now, that lore seems to stay with older folks in the town.

"I'm not sure how much that's passed down anymore," he says. "And oftentimes they don't want to discuss that because of the circumstances because it did deal with a racial issue. At the same time, it's part of our history, unfortunately. In a way, it's part of who we are."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Star Wars' Editors Defy Hollywood Conventions

In a film industry often dominated by men, there's at least one exception: Many editors are women. Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey speak about their work on the new Star Wars.
NPR

Florida Says Its Fruits, Vegetables Are Safe From Invasive Fruit Fly

Since September, Florida has been fighting an infestation of the Oriental fruit fly, an invasive pest that threatened more than 400 crops. The state declared the insect eradicated as of Saturday.
NPR

7 Things To Know About Presidential Appointments To The Supreme Court

Republicans are adamant they will stop anyone President Obama names to replace for Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. It's possible Obama's nominee would face the longest wait in history for a vote.
NPR

West Point Students' Plan To Counter ISIS Online Strategy

The State Department sponsored a contest to find the best ways to combat ISIS propaganda online. A group of cadets from West Point got second prize. Rachel Martin speaks with team member CJ Drew.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.