Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Cowboy courting

Every cowboy needs his own special cowgirl, if not the west would have never been settled. In the days of yesteryear, our courageous hero couldn't rely on cell phone messages, Instagram, or Facebook. There were no movies, no drive ins, or malls to roam. In addition, cowboys often spent up to fifteen hours in the saddle up to six or seven days a week. But, if nothing else, cowboys are resourceful.

A courtship often began over a chance meeting in a very public place. Perhaps, our heroine had gone to the store with her family, in need of a new dress or perhaps some calico for a new quilt. She would be standing at the back of the store with her mother, sisters, and / or an impatient brother who might recognize our hero. A bit of small talk would ensue. Hat in hand, our hero would cast a shy glance to the floor, then offer to carry her packages to the surrey or wagon. There, in front of the her family, he'd ask for the privileged of calling upon her at home.

If allowed, our cowboy would get his chores done, his clothes would be spotless, and his boots coated with fresh polish. Riding over, he would sit in the presence of her family on that front porch and talk. There would be no hand holding, no kisses. Its far to early to take those giant next steps. One didn't want to be considered "light skirted". He couldn't afford to upset her family and be sent away with a blackened eye or worse.

Courting would take on a serious note when couples were said to be 'keeping company'. Rules were relaxed and our hero might borrow a buggy and drive our heroine to church or a local dance. There, he would have the ability to hold the object of his affection in his arms. For the length of a waltz, there would be only the two of them. Words spoken were said only for his or her ears. They were on public display. He would be the envy of his buddies and given a ribbing or two back at the bunkhouse. Yet, that wouldn't remove the smile that play upon his lips.

Perhaps in six months, he would ride over to speak with her father. He'd have a plan for the future. Land would have been purchased. A homestead begun. He'd have to ensure that her needs would be taken care of to her family's satisfaction. With consent obtained, then he would approach his love. Perhaps on her porch, at sunset, with the sky filled with a swirl of colors, he'd drop to one knee and ask for he hand in marriage. If he'd courted well, her answer might be yes. If he'd been found a cad, she would spurn him by turning him down.

Make no bones about it. Marriage in the west was a business deal. Women were commodities to be highly respected. Ranches were expanded. She might bring to the match, cattle, horses, of her family's good name. Love sometimes, came later. Cowboy courting could easily be a game of chance.


Markee Anderson said...

It's a shame these things weren't continued. Courting like this would've been interesting, and you'd never have to worry about a wild guy taking advantage. Ah, the good old days, huh? It reminds me a little bit of what the Amish still do for courting, too. Interesting...very interesting. Thanks for posting! Now I have ideas for what could be done TODAY for a sweet romance. LOL! :)

Zina Abbott said...

Keep in mind with only horses, wagons, buggies and walking for transportation, a man generally found a bride within a half-day-away-by-horse trip. In genealogy, when looking for the maiden name of a wife, we are often advised to check the census ten years before they marry for all the families within that distance on a township map or in an enumeration district.