Tuesday, November 5, 2013


I've always been fascinated by the concept. And actually, my Summerside Press novel Love Finds You in Golden, Colorado, is a mail-order bride book.

One of my favorite resources for this is the book Hearts West by Chris Enss.

Would you be tempted to answer an ad that says:

"Wanted: A girl who will love, honest, true not sour; a nice little cooing dove and willing to work in flour:"

"A gentleman of 26 years old, 5 feet 3 inches, doing a good business in the city, desires the acquaintance of a young intelligent and refined lady possessed of some means, of a loving disposition from 18 to 23, and one who could make home a paradise."

"An intelligent young fellow of 22 years, 6 feet height, weight 170 pounds Would like to correspond with a lady from 18 to 22. Will exchange photos: object, fun and amusement, and perhaps when acquainted, if suitable, matrimony."

"A lively widower of 40, looking much younger, 5 feet 7 inches high, weighing 145 pounds would like to correspond with some maiden or widow ladyof honor who would like a good home, kind husband and plenty."

I'm not sure I would. Actually, wondering what would make a woman answer one of these ads is the catalyst to the birth of my Golden, New Mexico, novel.

Of course not all the ads were for men trying to find wives. Some were women trying for husbands. Here's one of those ads:

"A lady, 23, tall, fair and good looking, without means, would like to hear from a gentleman of position wanting a wife. She is well educated, accomplished, amiable, and affectionate."

When gold was discovered in California, an influx of men stampeded to find their riches. Unfortunately, not many women accompanied them.

San Francisco even had a newspaper titled Matrimonial News, dedicated to promoting "honorable matrimonial engagements and true conjugal facilities" for these men who came west.

An editorial in Alta California another newspaper said, "We want an emigration of respectable females to California; of rosy-cheeked 'down east' Yankee girls--of stout 'hoosier' and 'badger' lasses, who shall be wives to our farmers and mechanics, and mothers to a generation of 'Yankee Californians.' "

Here's another advertisement:

"Lonesome miner wants a wife to share stake and prospects. Please respone to . . ." and the name and post office followed.

In the 1860s, Asa Mercer went to the "Atlantic states" to bring boatloads of women to the Pacific Northwest.

Some of the women who came were sadly disappointed, but many found a good life in the west. They became the matriarchs of strong families who built the country, leaving a legacy of adventure, strength, and often a strong faith.

On another note, I'd love for you to come over to my Fan page on Facebook and become a fan.

If you would have been single in that time period, do you think you would have considered answering one of those ads?


  1. Lena, I love your post. I am afraid that I would probably have been one of those young ladies that would have wanted to answer the ad but would have been too scared. Sometimes fear gets in the way of a lot of things.

  2. Thank you for sharing those ads.
    I probably would not answer them but perhaps if I was in a difficult situation or an orphan, I might have.

  3. Those ads were very interesting to read! I really don't know if I would do that or not. I'd be too afraid of what I would find!

  4. Such a different time... I can't imagine ever answering one of those ads myself, but you never know! Today's online dating, or Christian match making sites remind me of a low risk version of mail order brides/grooms... It is very romantic to hear stories of marriages that lasted when started this way. :) tamara_wilkins@ymail.com

  5. I had the same thoughts as Tamara; vintage on line dating! Sarah Plain and Tall has always been one of my favorite stories because they truly learned to love and appreciate one another despite all odds. I don't know if I'd actually answer an ad, but my husband and I had a long distance courtship via letters (anyone remember those?) Thanks for sharing with us, Lena!

  6. Enjoyed the great post!! I don't know if I could have answered an ad, but everything is so very different now than back then. Some of my favorite books are the mail ordered brides. Thank you for sharing the ads.
    Barbara Thompson

  7. Sorry to be so late coming to the blog to greet you. My second great grandson was born this morning, so I've been at the hospital to see him. You can find a peek on my Facebook profile.


  8. I peeked. How exciting for you and your family!! I don't know that I would answer these ads. However... had my husband's mother not gone as a cook at the lumber camp her father was foreman of.... and my mother was a teller where my daddy-to-be came to refinance his fancy car, we wouldn't be here to tell about it.
    I always enjoy your posts, Lena. Thank you for bright spots in our days. Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

  9. Your book sounds like one I would really enjoy! I love reading mail-order bride novels, but I don't think I would ever answer one of those ads unless I was really in dire straights, which I assume many women were who answered the ads. The ads are interesting to read though. I like how the men advertise their height and weight, and the one "A lively widower of 40, looking much younger..." made me smile.

  10. I love your books and the ads shown here are hilarious, scandalous and ridiculous! Love to win your book and the ornament! sharon, ca wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

  11. I guess my story isn't so different from a Mail-Order-Bride story. A friend at college convinced me to be a blind date with one of his friends. I told him I would go if he'd stop pestering me about it.

    Three months and three days later, we were married, and this Thursday, we will celebrate our 49th anniversary.

  12. I would have been nervous to answer a mail-order bride ad, I think. I want to see and talk to the one I will marry.
    I am married, by the way, but like the dating model best! sharon, ca