Monday, September 17, 2012

Mail Order Brides by Lauri Robinson

No, this isn't a mail ordered bride, it's my niece and her husband on their wedding day last month. It's just such a fun picture I had to share it.  Now, on to my post:

Nowhere else in the world can lay claim to the old west. Other countries had their wild, rowdy, or scandalous times, but only America had the land west of the Mississippi—that vast, unclaimed land that held promises of change, beauty, wonder, and riches—and gave birth to mail order brides.

Men set west in droves, and even those that didn’t ‘strike it rich’ in the gold fields, succeeded in other ways such as ranching, farming, and building communities, but many soon discovered one thing was missing. Women. Someone they could share their new-found lives with. Since men outnumbered women nine to one in most western territories, men started writing ‘back east’. Some would ask family members to find a suitable partner and send them west. Others wrote to churches and/or put ads in newspapers and magazines.

Women were excited about the opportunity. Between the civil war and the westward movement, the ratio between men and women in the east was extremely disproportional. There were very few career options for women, and poverty was on the rise. Even to those with financial support, becoming a mail order bride carried lest social stigma than becoming a spinster.

There were newspapers and magazines dedicated to connecting men and women, and marriage brokers opened Mail Order Bride Agencies on both sides of the Mississippi, proclaiming what many already knew, that without women towns wouldn’t become ‘civilized’ or flourish.

The couples would usually share a few letters, possibly a photo if either had the means to provide one, and eventually would come to the ultimate decision to marry or not. Some ‘brokers’ actually performed proxy marriages between the couple to assure neither party changed their minds upon meeting. The divorce rates of mail ordered brides were very low, and many marriages proved loving and long lasting.

I’ve always loved mail order bride’s tales, and my next release with Harlequin, Unclaimed Bride, is such a story:

Running from the past…she bumps into her future!
Mail-order bride Constance Jennings steps off the stage in Cottonwood, Wyoming, and waits for her husband-to-be. But he never shows up, and instead several other men are vying to take his place!
Single father Ellis Clayton must be the only man in town not looking for a bride. But his young daughter's habit of rescuing wounded critters means he ends up offering Constance a temporary shelter.
Having a woman around the house again is all too easy—especially seeing her bond with his daughter—but Ellis can't seem to let go of the past. Problem is, neither can Constance. And hers is about to catch up with her….

What about you? If you’d lived back then, would you have left all you’d ever known behind and headed west on little more than a promise of marriage?


Mariann at Belles Book Bag said...

Hi Lauri,
I have never had the pleasure of reading any of your books but that will change. I am going to add this one to my TBR pile. I love books about mail order brides!! I would like to think that if I lived back then that I would have been a mail order bride. The adventure and hope of finding love definitely would have appealed to me. LOL :) Have a great day!!

mesadallas said...

Hi Lauri,

I haven't read all of your books but I have read A Wife for Big John and loved it! I love mail order bride stories but in reality I'm not sure if I would have been brave enough to commit myself to a practical stranger. I photo would have been a must.

Lauri said...

Thanks, Mariann! I applaud you! I don't know if I could have done it!

Lauri said...

Thanks! I'm with you, but even after a picture, I don't know that I could have done it.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Lauri, I don't know if I could have gone out to marry someone I hadn't met. If they offered to see if we were a match, then I would probably have done it, but to just ride out, marry whatever was on the end of the trip...I guess I'm too picky! Great post!

Lyn Horner said...

Lauri,no way! I'd be scared stiff of what awaited at the end of the long, exhausting trip to meet him. Thanks for sharing!

Jacquie Rogers said...

Lauri, I love mail-order bride stories and look forward to reading yours! As for leaving everyone and everything I knew and heading west to marry a man sight unseen, that is one scary proposition. Not sure if I would have the gumption. But then that's one thing that writers often forget about the settlers--they did have gumption, or we wouldn't have anything to write about today. :)