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.
One common thread through all Articles in this series (Nineteenth Century Mail-Order Bride SCAMS) is the criminal’s intention to capitalize on their victims’ loneliness and desire for love and companionship.
Some brides-elect and grooms-elect actually had their intellect about them enough to recognize when things weren’t quite right (even if fraud was not involved in one out of three incidences)… and made prudent decisions about their course of action.
A man with two wives (neither knows about the other) seeks yet two more, entirely to swindle them of their means. This 1899 tale is so well worth reading.
Franks, as he presents himself on the West Coast, in the middle of defrauding women through multiple marriage agencies is scammed, himself, by a wealthy widow in demand of a expensive courtship.
Amateur historians will find myriad details worth noting, such as the communication of chiefs of police, use of the term “dead beat,” laws on the books, and so much more.
The term “Mail-Order Bride” is a 20th century development, though current popular fiction suggests it was common as early as the Civil War.
Matrimonial advertisements were published in newspapers far more often than a “catalog” of sorts. In fact more than one Matrimonial-type newspaper started up in the late 19th Century. The Matrimonial News did quite well in London, Germany, and the United States.