Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Mail-Order Brides VS Matchmaker Marriage

The wild west has been noted for its dusty streets, long cattle drives, and lonely men. As the west opened up and people followed wagon trains into new territory or raced to take part in the many gold rush events the population was largely made up of men. As long days turned to longer nights many of these men began to think about settling down and starting a family.  To do this there were several rather common ways for them to find a wife. One was a mail-order bride, the other a matchmaker.

Beloved Beulah
Mail-order brides tended to be women of a certain age who for whatever reason decided that they wanted to leave their pasts behind and start over in the west. Most were good, decent women who had little to look forward to or who could not find a suitable spouse in the east. After the decimation of men in the south due to the Civil War, many women found it difficult to wed.  This is when they would often turn to things like the Matrimony Gazzette for help. There were several publications run by agencies that published ads from men and sometimes women looking to wed. Mail-order bride would read through the ads looking for men that seemed to fit what they were looking for before beginning a correspondence with them.  Over the next few weeks or even months, the young woman would exchange letters with the intended until they determined if it seemed like a good match. Oddly enough most of these ads and letters were quite frank and upfront. No one wanted to waste time or money on something that wasn't going to go anywhere.

There is however one incident where a bride on the way to her intended was caught up in a stage robbery. Oddly the outlaws allowed her to keep all of her luggage including the precious wedding dress she had brought along. Once she finally arrived in town and was met by her fiance she discovered that her honest miner had taken up a sideline of robbing stages to subsidize his meager living. Needless to say, she did not stay. 

Mail-Order Brides were women who had time to get to know their future spouse through written letters but there was another way of finding a spouse; the matchmaker.

Matchmakers were usually women or couples who lived in various areas of the wild west that would bring potential brides to town to be matched with men who were looking for a wife. The Matchmaker would do their best to match people who would be compatible. Since she would already know at least something about the grooms as they were parts of her town. Matchmakers weren't as common as Mail-Order Bride agencies but still provided an important service for men looking to start a family. Once the women arrived they would often live with the matchmaker until she agreed on a match.

Both of these means for women to find a husband and a home of their own in the west were risky and it took a strong heart and a trusting spirit to take the plunge and step into the unknown.

It is a testimony of the time that so many of the marriages worked out for the couples with the majority
of marriages being at least comfortable if not happy.

I have written several Mail-Order Bride stories, it seems to be a genre that we simply don't get tired of. Do you enjoy this genre or any marriage of convenience story? I know I always have. 

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