Book Review of Chris Enss’s title: Wicked Women: Notorious, Mischievous, and Wayward Ladies from the Old West. This nonfiction, informative, entertaining book presents women of the Old West–their impact and influence on mining towns, settling the west, and men from prospectors to politicians.
Would frontiersmen actually pool their financial resources to bring potential brides west? Would they trust one of their own to go East to find brides for them all? One county in Dakota Territory did just that in 1885. A California newspaper, The Petaluma Courier announced the plan.
The circumstances immediately brought to mind the premise behind my series, Prosperity’s Mail-Order Brides. Books 2 and 3 are in the queue (with titles!), and all have fancy new covers.
After a 12-part series consisting of lengthy blog posts covering many (but far from all) scams reported in Nineteenth Century Mail-Order Bride situations, is it possible to believe anyone found success in such a venture?
It’s true! While happiness might not garner front-page news stories, happy mail-order bride marriages did occur–more often than they ended in disaster. This article contains six historically documented SUCCESS stories!
In 1865 (34 years earlier than Franks’ scheme), a similar incidence in New England didn’t get quite so far but caused quite a stir.
Frederick Henry Harvey recognized a need along the railway lines–good quality food, comfortable accommodations, and sterling service. He’d worked as a mail clerk on the railroad and discovering the unmet needs of travelers, opened his restaurant business in the 1870’s. By 1883, he replaced male waiters with young ladies whose impeccable appearance and gracious service increased Harvey’s business from local men. Courtships ensued (restricted to the “courting parlor” in the women’s dormitories), marriage occurred–but not until the minimum of one year of service to the company was met. Fred Harvey is credited with much more than quality food and entrepreneurship in the Southwest, he single-handedly brought about the civilizing of the west by importing more “brides” than any other “agency”.