Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Cowboy Comes A-Courting



 

Cowboys had a way with words so it’s not too surprising that they used some pur-ty colorful terms to describe matters of the heart-- and that included courting.  “Gittin’ hitched” was serious business and spooning or sparking no less so.

 

Nothing changed the concept of marriage and courting as much as the westward movement. Marriage offered a semblance of security in an unsettled land. For a widow or widower with children, finding a spouse was a dire necessity. 

 

Rules that had defined courtships for centuries went out the window. Marriages arranged by well-meaning parents were no longer the norm. Ordering a bride from a catalogue was and following the Civil War, dozens of marriage brokers sprang up.  Not all were scrupulous and more than one absconded with a client's hard-earned money. 

 

Women asserting their rights politically also demanded matrimony democracy as well.  Demographics in the west were on their side for women were vastly outnumbered by men.  In the mid 1800s one man lamented that there was only sixty or seventy women in all of Houston.   He never said how many of those women he’d be willing to take home to mom.


Couples took buggy rides; went on picnics; cuddled in the hayloft; and danced at socials. A man taking a fancy to a woman might give her a token.  If he was serious he might even start hoarding coffee.

Yep, that’s right coffee.  The coffee that won the west may have owed its popularity more to courtship than to taste or convenience.  John Arbuckle came up with what at the time was a unique marketing plan; he added coupons or vouchers to packages of coffee that could be redeemed for goods. Arbuckle’s catalog contained thousands of items. Twenty-eight coupons could you get you a razor, for example, but the most popular item was the finger ring. 


During the 1890s Arbuckle Brothers was the largest distributor of finger rings in the world.  In “Arbuckles” author Francis Fugate quotes a company official who bears this out: “One of our premiums is a wedding ring, and if all the rings of this pattern serve their intended purpose then we have been participants in eighty thousand weddings a year.”



Getting married wasn’t always that easy. Some communities didn’t have a regular preacher and had to depend on a circuit preacher who might not show up for months at a time.  It wasn’t unusual for a saddle preacher to ride into town and find couples waiting to get married with toddlers in hand. 

It might have been the gun that won the west but it was love that tamed it.


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Coming June 2014 in print and eBook
Available for preorder





13 comments:

  1. I knew about Arbuckle coffee, but I'd never read about their coupons for gifts. That's fascinating. You find the most interesting stuff, Margaret.

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  2. That is an interesting fact. Almost sounds a little like green stamps...save enough and choose a product. Looking forward to the new book. The cover is lovely!

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  3. Vickie, thanks. I loved the idea of men saving coffee coupons for rings.

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  4. Hi Anne, I used to love saving blue chip stamps. Remember those? Whenever I was broke I would take my coupon books to the store and purchase something. It made me feel rich.

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  5. That is so interesting about Arbuckle coffee! Looking forward to the new book. I already have it on my wish list!

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    1. Oh, goody, Joy! That was a fun book to work on!

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  6. Very interesting about the coffee coupons. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to wait your turn for the circuit preacher to come - not only for weddings, but for church time too. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Hi Nancy,
      Thank you for stopping by. Yes, it's amazing what couples had to go through to get married. It's so easy today to take our churches for granted.

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  7. Four Weddings and a Kiss sounds great. I knew about circuit preachers but it sounds like today's culture with the couples with toddlers waiting for the preacher to marry them. sm, CA wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. You're right. It does sound like today. What goes around, comes around, right?

      Take care.

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  8. Can't wait to read your next book, Margaret! Some things don't change. A recent survey said women still want love and security.

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    1. Hi Lori, thank you! Since I keep reading that fewer people are getting married these days, it's encouraging that women still want love and security. Careers and job won't give them that; a good man will!

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  9. Hello Margaret. I really enjoyed this post. Lots of information. Times were hard. Lots of women married for safety, family, and possibly love if they were lucky. But I assume many felt this was their only chance to have the family they yearned for. I choose to think that the majority treated the women good. They needed a wife, and sometimes a mother for children they already had, Loneliness, and needed someone to be a helpmate. But, would have still been scary I would think. I really want to read this book at some time. Thanks and GOD bless. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

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