In 1905, The Courier of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania published an article detailing a “Correspondence” Courtship Scam. A young, innocent girl lost more than her heart, more than $1,000 (a fortune in today’s dollar)–she lost her confidence and her trust in humanity.
The Heiress A Chambermaid: Adventures of Two Lovesick Men in a Hunt for $85,000 Through a Matrimonial Agency
Scams involving fraudulent matrimonial companies abounded in the nineteenth century. Vintage newspapers often reported circumstances, chastised the foolish hearts who sent money to their correspondent, and insisted that no man or woman worth marrying needed to resort to the mail or an agency. This article, titled the same (as my post) was originally published in The New York Times, January 21, 1900, and details the circumstances of a purported “heiress”, gushing love letters on scented stationery, her two lovesick swains, the Manhattan matrimonial agency, and the judge’s decree.
Flourishing in Our Midst are “Matrimonial Agencies” Which Seem to Need Attention:
Trysting Places for fools, Old and Young Which Can Be Dispensed With.
One Institution Investigated, the Vile Character of Which its Proprietors Do Not Deny.
The original newspaper article appeared in The Inter Ocean Newspaper, Chicago, Illinois, 28 August 1887.
A parade through historical newspapers taking a look at the wild and colorful history of one Charles H. Rowan, proprietor of a matrimonial agency in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the late 1890’s. He was accused, arrested, tried, found not-guilty, allegedly bribed government officials, retried–and the story doesn’t end there.
A murderer finds his victims through a matrimonial bureau; and two wealthy (and married) women entrap unsuspecting swains into expensive courtships, engagements, marriage– or close enough– broken hearts and shattered illusions.