I'm a big fan of mail-order brides stories, such as Mail-Order Mayhem in Seven Brides for Seven Texans. I've written several such stories, because I find them so interesting. Just image leaving all that is familiar--home, parents, siblings, friends--to travel across the country via train, stage coach, freight wagon, and/or horseback to marry a stranger.
We're all familiar with the mail-order brides of the 19th century, but did you know they still exist? They do. Just try Googling the term: Mail-Order Brides. Or maybe, it's better if you don't.
Early residents at Lake McDonald posed with “Wives Wanted” sign, ca. 1901
During the peak years of overland migration, hundreds of thousands of white women traveled west, but the majority were already married. It was thought that "suitable" single women should not go west alone, so what could have caused a woman to put aside conventions and seek a husband so far away? A woman must have been pretty desperate to consider such a thing.
Did you know that other cultures also have a form of mail-order brides?
* Plains Indians arranged sight-unseen marriages. They were often set up with the help of a middleman and could involve the payment of a "bride price," which was to compensate the woman's family for the loss of her labor.
* Russian immigrants brought with them the tradition of koopla, whereby marriage brokers were paid a fee to pair men with potential spouses from the Old Country
* Chinese and Japanese men obtained "picture brides" from their homelands--women whom they had come to know only through grainy photographs. According to historian Glenda Riley, Asian women entered such relationships because of parental pressure, to escape poverty, or to hide a sullied reputation. It was customary for the men to bear all costs, including the woman's passage and any wedding expenses incurred.
The Civil War was a big factor in women traveling west in the later part of the 19th century. By 1865 it was estimated that there were as many as 30,000 single women back east. With the plentitude of bachelors in the Plains and so many women needing husbands, you can see how becoming a mail-order made sense to so many.
If you'd lived in the 19th century, do think you would have considered becoming a mail-order bride? What circumstances could cause you to have considered it? Have you ever known a mail-order bride?
Word Search puzzle - Be sure to visit my post on January 2nd and get a copy of the Seven Brides for Seven Texans word search puzzle. Work it and then email me to let me know you did, and I'll enter you in my drawing for a copy of the Texas Boardinghouse Brides series.
And don't forget to vote in the polls in the sidebar.
Come back next week. Erica Vetsch will be here talking about her fabulous characters, Bowie and Elise.