A key scene within Isabella’s Calico Groom (Calico Ball: Timeless Western Collection) is on Independence Day in Evanston, Wyoming Territory (a week shy of Wyoming’s acceptance into the Union as the 44th State). In keeping with the historical favorites when celebrating July 4th, the characters took note of the races–on foot, on bicycles, and in wheelbarrows. Victorian Americans enjoyed a wide range of contests with appealing prizes (cash, clothing, shoes, jewelry, etc.). Would you rather compete in a bicycle race, or in chasing a greased pig?
True sleigh rides are a thing of antiquity that most of us consider romantic. Did you consider how expensive such an outing could be? Or dangerous? No wonder a newspaper columnist of the day, in good humor, suggested an alternative.
Vintage paintings, photographs, and newspaper articles shed light on this sport, transportation, and social outing.
Often, FACT is stranger than FICTION.
Interestingly enough, readers of Mail-Order Bride-themed Historical Romance aren’t likely to find much in the way of FACTS in the fiction we so love to read. But that doesn’t mean the true history behind the popular niche isn’t fascinating to those of us who read and write it. Risks were very well known. Newspaper reporters often were behind advertisements. Boredom lead truly unmarriageable people to engage in entertainment through the mail system and matrimony agencies. Practical jokes accounted for many…considered a gentleman’s sport in the era.