Wed on the Steps of History

February 1, 2009 | By More

Story by Dianne Edwards

Set-up by friends–thats how Brooka and Jessie Phillip Potts described the beginning of their relationship.

The future bride moved with her mother, Julie, from Russellville to Atkins to live with her grandmother, Shirley, when Brooka was in the eighth grade. She graduated from Atkins High School, later taking a job at Taco Bell in Atkins.

Jessie, the son of David and Patrice Potts of Pottsville, is a graduate of Pottsville High School. He was working at J&I Truck Accessories in Atkins when he and Brooka first met.

“My boss and a buddy from work had gone to get something to eat and they noticed Brooka. They came back and told me I really needed to go see and meet her,” Jessie recalled, laughing. 

“They ‘checked me out’ first. We started dating right after that, and after five months, Jessie bought me a promise ring,” said Brooka.

“He proposed on her birthday, January 4th, four years ago,” they both recalled. And, just as he had with her promise ring, Jessie stashed the engagement ring in the dash board of his vehicle, surprising her when he proposed.

When selecting a location for their wedding, Brooka was adamant. There was never an alternative in her mind. She’d always wanted an outdoor wedding, and with Jessie’s historical ties to Potts Inn, the choice was easy.

Jessie traces his family’s roots back to his great-grandparents, Kirkbride and Pamelia Potts. The Potts family built and maintained the historic stagecoach station on Galla Creek. The Inn, which continues to be the best preserved stagecoach station on the Butterfield Overland mail route between Memphis and Fort Smith. Jessie’s great-grandmother, Pamelia Logan, was a member of a pioneer family living in what was later named Logan County.

In addition to a number of family marriages, Potts Inn remains a popular wedding location for local couples. Brooka LaDawn Laymon and Jessie Phillip Potts were married Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008, on the steps of historic Potts Inn.

Potts Inn, located at 25 East Ash Street in Pottsville and built in 1850, features antebellum architecture and occupies a large block in the town of Pottsville. It was considered the center of 160 acres of homesteaded land obtained from the Federal Government after the treaty of 1828 with the Cherokees.

The Potts family lived in the home until it was sold to Pope County in 1970. The inn is currently under the direction of the Pope County Historical Foundation, a self perpetuating board.

Arriving in a horse-drawn carriage owned by Danny Davis of Davis Carriage, the bridal party included Tawny Laymon, maid of honor; bridesmaids Stephanie Reed and Jamie Caudell, and Brooka’s younger sister McKenzie, who served as flower girl.

Brooka was escorted across the stone slab steps to the porch of historic Potts Inn on the arms of her four uncles – Bill Laymon, Tony Laymon, Mike Laymon and Clancey Laymon.

There she joined her husband-to-be. Joey Potts served his brother as best man while A.J. Bewely and Justin Shinn were groomsmen. Nephews Garrett Reed and Tanner Reed carried the ring bearer’s pillow and two yellow memorial roses.

Brooka, who can easily be described as possessing a ‘sunny personality,’ works as a teacher at ABC Children’s Academy. She choose the color of the sun – yellow – for the flowers used at her wedding. Fresh yellow rose petals also adorned the white-iced wedding cake. Yellow lemonade was served.

While and early rainfall threatened to dampen the wedding day, the couple’s spirits remained undaunted. There was never a contingency plan should the rain continue during the afternoon – “we were getting married on the steps at 2 p.m. regardless,” added Jessie.

The ceremony was not without humor, however. The groom’s brother and best man, Joey, dropped the wedding ring when passing it off to Jessie.

“I dove for the ring as it rolled toward the cracks of the old wooden porch,” laughed Jessie. “I’d have torn those wooden planks out if I’d had to!”

As B.J. Duvall, youth minister at Atkins Union Grove Church, officiated, more than 100 friends and family members watched another generation of the Potts family marry on the historic steps.

Following the wedding, the couple – along with Brooka’s little sister – rode a few miles west to the Special Events location on Hwy. 64.

“We didn’t have the heart to tell her no,” Brooka added, laughing.

After the reception, the pair enjoyed an extended weekend at Big Cedar Lodge in Branson followed by a side trip to Eureka Springs.

Prior to their marriage, the couple had spent four months remodeling their home on Crow Mountain while planning their upcoming wedding.

“Our friends said it couldn’t be done but we worked hard. Everything was ‘hands on’ and we got to know each other – our limits, our strengths and our weaknesses – real well,” added Jessie.

While the couple was away, friends worked to complete a deck on the house. But, before the honeymooners returned, they received a call that their home had been broken into. So many things they had worked hard to earn were stolen.

“But instead of getting down about it, we tried to maintain a positive attitude. We had, after all, just gotten married,” said Jessie.

Attitude is everything, and in a marriage – no matter how long a couple has been together – sometimes it’s what really matters most.  

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Category: Bridal

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