April 7, 2019

Mail-Order Brides of Yesteryear

Perhaps it was because their hearts were extra-lonely. Perhaps it was because they were caught-up in the romance of western novels. Perhaps it was both. But some women were determined to find themselves a rugged, handsome, western man.

In 1909, one woman came all the way to the Bradshaw mountains from Torence, Italy to find love. The newspaper told of the rare relationship:

"Crown King in a few days will probably be the scene of the pretty marriage, and incidentally the termination of one of the most novel and romantic courtships that has taken place in this section in many years.

"The principles to the matrimonial event are to be John Benny in business at the old Tiger mine, and Miss Louisa Candia of Toreno, Italy."

Louisa had never met her man, but did have a photograph of him. The wife of one of John's business associates knew Louisa and acted as matchmaker. Louisa trusted this lady enough (and liked the photo enough,) to take the incredibly long and difficult journey to marriage.

"She is a fascinating young woman," the paper said. "She is endowed with that beauty that the young women of southern Italy are noted for and to grace her personality, she is accomplished in the art of music and is vivacious in her manners." She quickly became popular on the social scene and she and John seemed to have a happy union.

Weekly Arizona Miner; July 1880.

In May, 1923, the Prescott Evening Courier printed a letter from a woman in Smackover, Arkansas to the men of Prescott:

   "I want to come out to your country and the only way I can see to get out there is to marry some man out there who will pay my way out there.
   "I am a widow, good looking, only 26 years old..."

However, as one continues to read, there is more to this proposition than appears on the surface.

   "...And have only two children and a mother to support.  I am dark complexioned and like to live outdoors, but am a good housekeeper.  I think love can come after marrying and stay just as long as it does when it gets to you before.
   "If you will put this in your paper, I will be much obliged, no matter if I don't get any results.

Yours truly,
Mrs. Billie Maby
Smackover, Arkansas"

True story of an August, 1918 prostitution sting in Prescott, AZ and its unexpected and humorous results as Cupid finally won the day!

HERE’S A CHANCE,” the 1880 newspaper proclaimed. “An honest man of some means, who deserves a good wife, can hear from a Massachusetts widow (splendid housekeeper, age 45) who could make his home and his heart very happy, by address: Mrs. S Clark, 239 S 9th St Philadelphia, PA”

Of course, it wasn’t just women who were searching for love. WT Simmons ran this ad in the paper in 1886: “A widower of 45 years, 5 feet, 10 inches high, with dark hair and blue eyes, wishes to correspond with a few lively maidens or widows between the ages of 28 and 45. I neither drink nor gamble. Lady with dark hair preferred. Object: a loving wife. Address: WT Simmons, Yavapai County, Arizona Ty.”

Weekly Arizona Miner; August, 1873

In 1913 a Wisconsin woman wrote a letter to the paper, which it printed verbatim:
Dear Prescott Journal-Miner:
I want what the women call a hubby. A girl can't find a good one in the eastern states. Would like to know if there was a nice young man, or a cowboy that wants a wife. If there are, write to
Miss A.K., 862 3rd St, Beloit Wisconsin.
P.S. if anyone that drinks booze or is older than 25 needn't apply.

“For the benefit of Miss AK,” the paper opined, “it may be stated that Yavapai county is full of cowboys and nice young men (of that age) but it is doubtful if many of them can be found leading a Bible class on Sunday.”

“Seeing that (this) lady is so particular as to her choice of a man,” the paper continued, “it might be well for any aspirant for her hand to ask a few questions, and we would suggest the following:

Are you good-looking?
Are you a good cook?
Have you ever been married?
Do you chew tobacco?
Are you well informed and well-formed?
Have you enough money to pay your fare out here?
Can you live on love and (minimum wage)?
Will you?
What is your income?
If none, state whether you have any rich relatives in failing health.
Do you think you could support a husband?
If not, why do you wish to get married?
Finally, “If your cowboy husband was compelled to spend the night away from home rounding up a stray steer, would you greet him upon his return with a kiss or a club?”

There's some food for thought!


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