Part 3 of an ongoing series ~
Who knew? Tobacco use in the nineteenth century might surprise you! Without today’s health warnings, tobacco became a favorite vice among men and women of all ages (including children). Numerous vintage sources paint an accurate backdrop of cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, chewing tobacco, etc., dispelling the myths surrounding tobacco use throughout the American nineteenth century.
Etiquette governed much during the Victorian Era: courtship, marriage, mourning, letters, social calls, dancing, engagements and breaking of engagements, clothing…and men’s hats. When reading fiction and nonfiction alike, I’ve wondered about men tipping their hats to ladies, removing their hats (or not), giving their hats over to the butler (or not), wearing a Stetson inside or during a business meeting… What did good manners demand? How did a cowboy show respect? How did a lady know if a man hoped to stay awhile when he paid a call?
Really? Did Victorian Americans forbid kissing in public? Was it unreasonable to think the fictional town of Mountain Home, Colorado (the setting of The Gunsmith’s Bride (within GUNSMOKE & GINGHAM)) would have a “no kissing, no PDA” law? In 2017 U.S.A. it’s hard to believe Victorians would be so prudish as to object to public displays of affection–or a little peck. The newspaper articles, snippets from vintage magazines, and decorum advice from the era might leave you speechless… Oh! Read part of a scene where the law breaks up the hero and heroine (The Gunsmith’s Bride) kissing on the street–and threatens 48 hours in jail.
In the very early years of the United States’ history, Christmas celebrations remained highly localized and dependent upon the traditions of the settlers’ homelands. But by 1876 (The Centennial), what we consider a “Traditional Christmas” had become firmly formed. Contemporary Americans will recognize almost all of the Victorian traditions surrounding the holiday.
The ritual of courtship in the days of the American Old West is very different from today’s dating. Courtship used to always mean an intention to marry–if the couple found they were indeed as compatible as they believed. Courtship followed specific rules and standards, even in the less-than-stuffy western territories and states. I provide a list of courtship rituals that are an intrinsic part of the fabric of the American West history.