(Photo courtesy of Glacier National Park Photo Archives.)
I can’t honestly explain why, but the concept of “mail-order brides” has always intrigued me. Maybe it’s the romantic in me, wanting every lonely heart to find its true love. Maybe it’s the adventurous side, seeking the challenge of conquering the unknown. Whatever the reason, the concept has crept into two of my historical novels (A Hopeful Heart in 2010; and Beneath a Prairie Moon earlier this year), and in both I had a rip-roarin’ good time writing the stories.
The thing is, God created man and woman and designed the two to complement each other. So it shouldn’t be surprising that men in the West who were all alone wanted wives. Nor should it make us shake our heads in wonder that unmarried women would be interested in securing a husband. There were several “matchmaker” businesses in operation during the mid-to-late 1800s, and there were also a number of private individuals who posted ads—either men requesting a wife or women offering themselves for marriage. Historians differ on how many of these unions were truly happy, but when one is writing fiction, of course we shoot for the “happily ever after.”
I actually wrote Beneath a Prairie Moon to satisfy readers’ requests for another mail-order bride story similar to A Hopeful Heart. In A Hopeful Heart, a woman rancher brings inept Eastern women to her ranch and teaches them how to be ranchers’ wives before matching them up with local single ranchers. I twisted that around in Beneath a Prairie Moon and instead made the group of men seeking brides the inept ones when it came to courtship, and Mrs. Helena Bingham, owner of Bingham’s Bevy of Brides, would not send her girls to louts! So she sent one of her girls—one who’d been rejected by several matches already due to her hoity-toity attitude—to teach these men to be tender, attentive husbands.
Oh, such fun to place this young woman who’d been cast from high society (through no fault of her own) into a rough and rugged Kansas town and watch her interact with these goodhearted but very lacking-in-social-niceties men. Throw in a no-nonsense bow-legged sheriff (think Festus from “Gunsmoke”), good ol’ unpredictable Kansas weather, a storekeeper determined to find his bride the old-fashioned way, and a desperate man who’ll steal a wife if he can’t buy one, and— Well, let’s just say I had a good time. I’m not exactly a humor writer, but humor developed naturally as Abigail tried so hard to tame these untamable fellows, and I laughed out loud more during the writing of this book than any other.
Yes, there’s something intriguing about placing two strangers together and watching them find a way to mesh their lives and maybe, just maybe, discover their one true love.
(Btw, if I were a wife seeking a husband and had to pick from the fellows in the photograph at the beginning of this post, I’d take the second from the left. Can you guess why? Answer that question and your name will go into a drawing to win a copy of either of my mail-order brides books—your choice!)
May God bless you muchly as you journey with Him!
BIO: In 1966, Kim Vogel Sawyer told her kindergarten teacher that someday people would check out her book in libraries. That little-girl dream came true in 2006 with the release of Waiting for Summer’s Return. Since then, Kim has watched God expand her dream beyond her childhood imaginings. With almost 50 titles on library shelves and more than a 1.5 million copies of her books in print worldwide, she enjoys a full-time writing and speaking ministry. Empty-nesters, Kim and her retired military husband, Don, live in small-town Kansas, the setting for many of Kim’s novels. When she isn’t writing, Kim stays active serving in her church’s women’s and music ministries, traveling with “The Hubs,” and spoiling her quiverful of granddarlings. You can learn more about Kim’s writing or find purchasing links for all of her books at http://www.KimVogelSawyer.com.