by Heidi Vanlandingham
In ancient times, the Ice Age to be exact, the prime directive of marriage, the term, however loosely applied, was to produce offspring for the continuation of the race. Neanderthals, for instance, lived in small populations, which didn’t interact with one another. Therefore, if the family wanted to survive, they had sex with one another, regardless of the relationship. Thankfully, the human race evolved.
When the Hammurabi Codes were discovered, written by King Hammurabi in ancient Babylonia, we found out about the Babylonian Marriage Market where once every year, the young women of marriageable age would gather in one place to be auctioned off to the highest bidding male. Personally, this reminds me of the slave auctions held around the world. A milder version of this would be the English Ton during the Regency Era where the girls would dress up in their finest and attend the best parties in order to attract a titled husband, the higher the title, the better.
Every race has its own version of how to get married, but when women become scarce, the poor libido-driven men have a time of it. The first known “mail-order brides” came about during the 1600s in America where the men outnumbered the women in Jamestown almost four to one. Not very good odds for the country’s survival. To fix this, the Virginia Company brought over a shipload of English women who wanted better lives for themselves. This practice continued, spreading to New France, now known as Canada, with the filles du roi (King’s Daughters).
The practice of mail-order brides continued until the mid to late 1800s when it flourished. With the discovery of gold in California and the opening of the western frontier, lots of single men traveled west where very few women were. After the Civil War in 1865, with more than 600,000 men dead, the women were left without means of support. Their only option—go west.
By the 1870s, it wasn’t uncommon to see paid advertisements in the matrimonial columns of newspapers from coast to coast requesting wives and even women requesting husbands. Each ad would list certain attributes such as tall or short, skinny or fat, and rich or poor. Some ads would even include a picture. Were all the ads truthful, you ask? Nope. It seems that even the generations before us knew how to exaggerate and lie about who they were and how they looked.
I first learned about mail-order brides when I was a teenager. A cousin decided her oldest sister needed a good husband. So, what did she do? She answered a mail-order bride ad in a magazine, of course. Her sister wasn’t quite sure what to make of the situation she found herself in but answered the man’s letter anyway and has been married to that rancher in Wyoming for twenty-nine years. Romantic, isn’t it?
The prospect of being a mail-order bride has always intrigued me, and many thousands more as this amazing system has grown worldwide. Now, women from many countries scour the internet looking for prospective husbands who can provide for and love them. Same goes for the men. Not only do people dream of having a good life with plenty of food to eat and a roof over their heads, but they also dream of a little romance, hearts bursting with love. But more than anything, they hope to find that one special person—their soulmate.
As my intrigue with mail-order brides continues, I will be releasing two follow-up stories about two favorite characters in Lucie: Bride of Tennessee. Six-year-old Stella McCord is all grown up and searching for her groom in The Gambler’s Mail-Order Bride, and Alex Croft finds his own bride in A Groom for Rebecca. At the end of September, The Bride’s Deception will release in a boxed seat with USA Today best-selling author, Callie Hutton, Maxine Douglas, and debut author, Peggy McKenzie.
Heidi's Featured Western Romance: Riding the Storm
Bryan MacConnell, retired US Cavalry officer, hopes to find the one thing that’s eluded him—a family. When his home is burned to the ground, he gathers his grandfather and the old man’s best friend, and heads toward the unknown West determined to start a new life in the Cherokee Outlet in the Indian Territory.
Looking for the past:
Megan Floyd, orphaned as a child, is determined to discover the truth of her parents’ murder and the fate of her older brother. With her foster brother as an escort, she joins a small wagon train headed east from her adoptive parents’ home in Colorado. As much as she loves the Floyds, Megan yearns for her own family.
Looking to the future:
When marauding Indians and wild weather toss Bryan and Megan together, will they be torn apart or will they discover what they’ve both been searching for—a life full of love and family?
Available Here: Amazon