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.
Part 5: Chicago’s 100 Matrimonial Agencies–all shut down by one Police Detective, Clifton Wooldridge.
ONE HUNDRED FALSE Matrimonial Agencies in Chicago at the Turn of the Century?
Note the two new crime method additions (as addressed in my series of Nineteenth Century Mail-Order Bride SCAMS, Parts 1-5 so far): stock matrimonial letters and stock matrimonial photographs– more than one million, each.
The Victorian Era was a time of Romanticism: flowery language, love letters as a part of courtship; and Valentine’s Day! Expectations and societal norms during the latter 19th century was filled with some traditions we recognize today, and some we might not.
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.