January 15, 2009

The Friday Record - Mail Order Brides

Widowed Texas rancher/sheriff looking for marriage-minded woman, to cook, clean, keep house and care for 3 yr. old daughter. Will provide home and security. She must have $5,000 dowry.

With the gold and land rush, men raced West to find their fortune. They soon realized, though, that the Western Frontier lacked a vital component—women. In 1850, twice as many men lived in California as women. There weren't enough of-age females to go around for the marriage-minded gentlemen. So, on the heels of the gold and land rush phenomenon, came a new business enterprise—the mail order bride. Newspapers were filled with ads for both wives and husbands, while a few yellow sheets cropped up for the sole purpose of fulfilling the mail order bride demand. At least one lasted over thirty years and may have been responsible for over two thousand marriages.

A wonderful book on the subject is Hearts West: True Stories of Mail Order Brides on the Frontier by Chris Enss. Ms. Enss relates several true stories of both successful and disastrous marriages, as well reprinting real ads and photos for hopeful brides. (I'll be giving away a copy of this book next Wednesday during my Salvation Bride blog-a-thon).

Aged 27, height 4 feet 9 inches, dark hair and eyes, considered handsome by all his friends untied in saying his amiable and will make a model husband. The lady must be one in the most extended acception of the world since the advertiser moves in the most polished and refined society. It is also desirable that she should have considerable money.

Women went West looking for opportunity, just as the men did. They hoped to find a rich man and security, as well as a bit of adventure. And they came, by wagon, stage, train and ship. One widow woman brought her five marriageable daughters to the gold fields. But the men held dreams as well.

A girl who will love, honest, true and not sour: a nice little cooing dove, and willing to work in flour.

Unfortunately, choosing a mate through a newspaper advertisement, with perhaps a few letters exchanged, didn't always end in happily-ever-after. Lenient laws allowed for quick marriages and quick divorces. Some arrangements didn't even make it to the altar.

One young lady, Kathleen answered an ad from a U.S. Soldier and traveled all the way from Ireland after he proposed to her in a letter. However, Lt. Carey's idea of propriety and Kathleen's differed. A week before the wedding, while he was away escorting a wagon train, a social was held at the fort, which Kathleen attended. She contributed a pie to the food table and danced with the soldiers when asked. Lt. Carey found his highly inappropriate and a called off the wedding. Kathleen's pleas to reconsider went unheeded. Lt. Carey also demanded she pay him back the money he'd sent her for her fare. She went on to answer another ad and entered into a happy marriage. Lt. Carey never married.

Phoebe and William, however, had a much happier outcome, though they married the same day they met. For twenty-five years, they worked to make their farm successful, while raising a seven children. When they finally realized that no matter what they did, the hard Idaho earth wouldn't support them, they moved north and found the life William always wanted to provide for them. They were happily married for forty-seven years before William died.

Released Date: January 21, 2009

Laura and David take a chance in SALVATION BRIDE when they agree to marry sight unseen. Both have hidden secrets that must be revealed before they can find their happily-ever-after and their salvation in each other's arms.

Hearts West review: http://www.historynet.com/hearts-west-true-stories-of-mail-order-brides-on-the-frontier-book-review.htm

Buy the book: http://www.amazon.com/Hearts-West-Stories-Mail-Order-Frontier/dp/076272756X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1232076200&sr=8-1

“Talk about salvation! Lovers of mail order brides and the men who find love with them will shout with glee over Anna Kathryn Lanier's latest release.” -Natasha with Romance Junkies (4 Ribbon Review)

Four Spurs Review by Carol at Love Western Romances


Christine Trent said...

Anna Kathryn,
I recently judged a contest where one of the entries dealt with this same topic of "mail order brides" in the West. It's fascinating to think that in America people did that...but even more fascinating to know that sometimes these marriages worked out very well.

Thanks for sharing.


Phyllis Campbell said...

Anna Kathryn, I've always wanted to write a mail-order-bride story. I really am impressed with your research. Love this kind of stuff! And....I LOVE this story!! Your story rocks, my dear!


Anne Carrole said...

Loved these snippets re: Mail Order brides and you've written a great story with your new book, Salvation Bride.

Kytaira said...

I find the whole concept amazing. What a leap of faith! Even more amazing then arranged marriages. I've known two people in arranged marriages one from India and another from Pakistan. I guess if you go into the marriage with the intention of making it work it will work.

Kammie said...

I can't imagine being brave enough to do anything like that in real life. lol I suppose that's why I'm a fan of these stories.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

It is amazing that people thought marrying a stranger was the best thing they could do. The book I mention, HEARTS WEST, has several stories in it. Some with amazingly happy endings, others with not so happy. One woman is taking the stage to meet the man she'd corresponded with and it's attacked by robbers. She notices a jagged scar on one of them. Well, yep, she notices the same scar as her new husband signs the marriage certificate. She informs the minsiter and witness that the wedding never took place. He's captured a few years later. She tried to committ suicide, but was rescued (the disgrace of it all).

In my story SALVATION BRIDE, Laura is running from a bad situation and she has a deep seated fear of being alone in the world. So for her, she was willing to take a chance on a stranger, rather than 'not belong to anyone.' David lives in a small town with limited females. His idea is to get a housekeeper and a mother for his daughter. He's not really looking for a wife. He had one of those once, and it was a disaster.

Anna Kathryn