Janet Tronstad and Mail-Order Brides

First, I want to thank all of you for welcoming me to Petticoats and Pistols.  I’ve been sitting here at my desk trying to think of what I would say if I was placing an ad for a spouse.  It’s a daunting task, believe me.  But hundreds of men and women did just that in the Old West.
Numerous newspapers ran ads for mail-order brides, but the one who took it most seriously was a San Francisco matchmaking newspaper called the Matrimonial News.  In its own words it was dedicated to ‘promoting honorable matrimonial engagements and true conjugal facilities’ for men and women through its personal ads.

Each edition began with the same words: ‘Women need a man’s strong arm to support her in life’s struggle, and men need women’s love.”

I’m not sure women today would respond to that call, but in its day the Matrimonial News claimed to successfully bring together
three thousand couples.

For twenty-five cents, a man you could place a forty word ad if he agreed to accurately and truthfully describe his appearance (height, weight) and his financial and social position.  Ads were free for women. Because no one wanted to reveal their name, the newspaper assigned a number to each ad.

The following are two examples of the profiles listed in the Matrimonial News:

245 – I am fat, fair, and 48, 5 feet high.  Am a No. 1 lady, well fixed with no encumbrance: am in business in the city, but want a partner who lives in the West. Want an energetic man that has some means, not under 40 years of age and weight not less than 180. Of good habits. A Christian gentleman preferred.

292- A girl who will love, honest, true and not sour; a nice little cooing dove, and willing to work in flour.

I’ve always been intrigued with mail-order brides and was delighted when the opportunity presented itself to do connected
mail-order bride novellas with my good friend, Jillian Hart. We were both interested in railroads so we have our two brides befriending each other as they come West on the train.  Each one gets off at a different train station in the Montana Territory and both of them are surprised at what they find.  I won’t say any more as you will discover their respective challenges for yourself if you read our Mail-Order Christmas Brides. I will tell you that my heroine, Eleanor McBride, gets off close to where the small town of Dry Creek is developing (I have a long-running contemporary series set there) and Felicity Sawyer gets off the train in Angel Falls (where Jillian Hart has her series).

I’m curious what you think about mail-order brides.  Would you marry someone based on a few letters? Just the thought makes me nervous.

Fortunately, I have a less risky proposition for you.  If you post a comment, you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of Mail-Order Christmas Brides. The good thing is that you don’t need to take any vows at all.

To buy Mail Order Christmas Brides Click Here









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45 thoughts on “Janet Tronstad and Mail-Order Brides”

  1. Hi Janet,

    While I wasn’t a mail order bride, my ever-lovin’ and I courted mostly by mail. He was in the Air Force and I was still in school. No one believed it would last, but 59 years later…here we are. 🙂

    TI think those women who picked up and moved West back in the day had to be very strong women. Once on those trains or stagecoaches, it would have been pretty hard to change one’s mind.

  2. Janet,welcome,very interesting post,,it may not have been so bad,,think of how marriages today dont work out to ppl you think you do know,I met my husband on line,,,an we long distance dated for 2 yrs,,an have been happily married for 8yrs..so back then it probably wasnt as bad as it sounds,,Vickie

  3. I enjoyed your post Janet. I enjoy reading stories of Mail Order Brides. To me those women were either at the end of their rope or just strong women…or maybe both. I never get tired of reading these types of stories as each author has their own take on the subject…I love it. ;D

    My husband & I knew each other in high school but never dated (I had a super big crush on him but we were both too shy). Thirty-two years later he found me through Classmates.com (I lived in California), contacted me in January 2011, came to see me in March 2011 (he lived in Indiana), proposed, and we were married in April 2011 and we are living happily in Indiana ever since. He’s my hero! Every day is a new happy day for us. When he contacted my the first time he called me at work (he literally called all over the country trying to find me)then called me at home that night & we talked for over 3 hours. Every day/night after that we emailed and talked on the phone.

    People asked me how you could really know someone from just talking on the phone or emails. My thought is you can learn more from someone over the telephone or email because all you are doing is talking. If we were dating you might talk a little between bites at dinner, not talk at all if you go to a movie. May talk a little during a sporting event or entertainment venue and maybe talk a little to and from the date destination. So communicating over the phone you have none of the other distractions to interfere with really getting to know someone.

    😀 Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  4. Janet,
    I always like reading mail order bride books and look forward to reading this one.

    My daughter was introduced to her husband when friends sign her up for a computer match for a month. Turns out he was from the next town but she was currently living out of the country, than she was home for a wedding and her flight got delayed and he got to meet her face to face.

    I don’t know if I could of been a mail order bride myself. But I do remember having a list in my head, and not wanting to go out with anyone but the man I married that fit the list and that is just how it turned out. Happily married for 31 years.

  5. Hi Janet,

    Always love a mail order bride story. So, much opportunity for anything to happen on the trail or once she reaches her destination.

    I think if a woman was up for an adventure answering a mail-order bride announcement might be just the ticket, and I probably would have answered one of those announcements.


  6. Jane – I love stories about mail-order brides and I also enjoy the Love Inspired Historicals, they are so heart-touching. I think those mail-order brides were very brave and courageous. Love the cover, it really draws me in and I can’t wait to read that book!

  7. Good morning Janet…The cover of the book is just lovely….Looking at today, most people do not stay together….So who knows it seems back in the day people got married and stayed together……

    Anyway, thanks for the post…very interesting…

    Walk in harmony,

  8. Hi Janet! Welcome to Petticoats & Pistols! Mail Order Bride stories are such fun . . . It took tremendous courage for a woman to take that step. Talk about risk! I often wonder what these women were leaving behind, what motivated them. Lots of history here to go with the romance!

  9. I see I have some catching up to do! Here on the Calfiornia coast I often wake up and am already behind the rest of you!

    First, Joyce, loved hearing about you and your husband. You are right. You can get to know someone fairly well in letters. And if would have been hard for a mail-order bride to change her mind mid-way through the trip.

  10. Vickie — I think the old mail-order brides do have something in common with people who meet on-line today (something that would make me nervous in just the same way).

  11. Cindy — loved hearing your story. And, you are right, that just because a couple dates in person it doesn’t mean they get to know each other better.

  12. Kristen Arnold — I’m sure it was an adventure for every woman who answered one of the ads. It didn’t always turn out so well and some of them went home rather than marry the one they thought they would.

  13. I have always been fascinated by the story of mail-order brides. That must have taken incredible courage. I don’t think I could have done it, but unfortunately, circumstances can cause us to do things we never thought we would.

  14. Anon 1001 — Happy Holidays to you, too!

    Cindy — I like the intrigue of mail-order brides, too.

    Melinda — you are right. Those mail-order brides probably had a higher chance of staying together than a bride today.

    Victoria — thanks for the welcome! And the mail-order brides are fun. Jillian and I are hoping to do a series of books with them.

  15. Cheryl — I’m sure lots of the women who did go as mail-order brides thought they wouldn’t do it. The shortage of men back east (after the Civil War) often left them with no choice if they wanted to get married (and back then unmarried women didn’t have it easy).

  16. Hi, Janet! Mail-order brides and their prospects were the original “online daters” and social networkers : ) The lure of the West beckons to one and all, each in a different way. Everyone needs someone, and if you are very lucky, you will find just the right one! For some, it seems as though Fate laid out their course and all the pieces fall easily into place. However, others are the “seekers” who must search out their mates, not knowing who they will find or where they will be found. Instead of waiting for a sign, they place inquiries and venture out into new territory. That’s really the spirit of the West! Would I be a “mail-order bride? Does anyone have a stamp?

  17. Janet, a big welcome back to P&P. We always love when you come to visit.

    What a fun post. I enjoyed reading a few of the real ads. So funny about willing to work in flour. 🙂 I’m fascinated by mail order bride stories. It would’ve taken a very adventuresome woman to take such a risk. That wouldn’t have been me I’m afraid. I’m not that open to marrying someone I don’t know. Very risky.

    Wishing you lots of success and hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

  18. I love mail order bride stories! There is just something about them that really keeps me into the book. I would love to read your book.

  19. Hi Janet,
    Love the cover of your book and happy to see you at P&P! In fact, I love the covers of all the Loved Inspired Historicals. I love stories about mail-order brides!!! I don’t know if I could have been a mail-order bride or not, but it’s possible. Like some of the ladies, my husband and I wrote to each other and talked on the phone, he flew in to visit me from another state a couple of times. We had originally met when I was 13 years old, just about to be 14, and he had just turned 18. We have been together 28 very happy years with two grown son’s. Love is important but commitment and respect are what get you through. Life is good!

  20. I like to believe love is possible everywhere and although mail-order brides may not be the norm nowadays, back in historical times it has a sweet ring to it. If two people go into it with an open mind, some belief and luck then love may just be a meeting away.

  21. I would be so scared to marry somebody based on letters…but I guess it is a lot like meeting somebody online. I’ve heard of a LOT of people who make happy marriages with people they met on the web…

    I love maile-order bride stories! Can’t wait to read this one!!!

  22. Your story sounds interesting. With my strong sense of independence, there is no way I would have been able to be a mail-order bride. I give those women creditfor being so courageous.

  23. Hi Janet–I just bought your book! It looks great and I’ve always been fascinated by mail order brides. Can’t wait to read it. One of my neighbors, a young cowboy type, put an ad in a cowboy lonely hearts column. He got one reply, but that was all he needed. They got married a year later and are happy as can be.

  24. I have always found mail order brides interesting. I think it took lots of courage to be a mail order bride. Love the cover to your book.

  25. Linda, thanks for the welcome back. I always love my visits on Petticoats and Pistols. Probably because I love history and you are always talking about something interesting here!

    QuiltLady — I agree about Mail Order Brides. It all seems so adventuresome.

    Sharon — I really like the cover on the book, too. The art department always seems to do well by the LIH books. Thanks for sharing about you and your husband. And, I agree about respect and commitment.

  26. Na S — I agree that one never knows. I’m sure some good marriages came out of the mail-order arrangements.

    Stephanie — I think it is something like meeting on-line (which seems scary, too).

    Joye — I agree. They were very courageous.

    Estella — I know how you feel.

  27. Jeannie — thanks for buying the book. Loved the story about your neighbor.

    Crystal GB — I agree about the courage. But then people back then did many hard things to survive sometimes.

  28. Two of my favorite story lines! I am looking forward to reading this one. I love Christmas themes and I always feel that mail order brides were way braver than I would be!

  29. Can’t wait to read I love mail-order bride stories.

    I myself wouldn’t chance it, its hard enough to stay married to a man you know (lol)

  30. Connie — thanks for stopping by. And those are two of my favorite themes, too.

    Sherry – LOL, ain’t that the truth (I’m not married myself, but I hear stories).

  31. I love mail-order bride (and groom) stories. It took such a leap of faith to leave everything and everyone you knew and travel to an unknown place to marry someone with whom you may have only exchanged a few letters. Today with easy travel and instant communication, not that many would be brave enough do it. It was definitely an adventure. I would like to think there were more happy endings than not.

    I will definitely be looking for MAIL-ORDER CHRISTMAS BRIDES. Holiday stories are other favorites of mine. The hope and magic of the season gives a special flavor to any story set during the Christmas holiday.

    I hope the release of MAIL-ORDER CHRISTMAS BRIDES goes very well.

  32. Not only were these women strong, they were also
    extremely brave and accepting of life on the
    frontier. They were definitely braver than I!

    Pat Cochran

  33. Patricia — You are right about the courage (or desperation) that it took to become a mail-order bride or groom (as you say). Thanks for wishing us well on our release. The book is climbing in Barnes and Noble and Amazon ebook sales and we are so excited. It is wonderful as an author when your book hits a chord with readers.

  34. Oh, I should mention that the book’s price has been reduced slightly in the ebook section of Amazon and Barnes and Noble — it’s now 2.99. I don’t know how long they will leave it lower, but it’s a good deal for now.

  35. Oh my stars, I should get over here more often. P&P rocks, totally, and gals, this book looks just wonderful. I’m heading to Wal-Mart later and I’m grabbing it! I love to tuck friend’s books into giveaway baskets in Seekerville and everyone would love to find this treat as a surprise addition! Victoria, thank you for giving it a shout-out on facebook… Yay, you!!!!

  36. I love the bravery and strength of these women who left everything and everyone they knew to go the the unknown destination and men.

  37. Ruth — how great to see you here! Jillian and I are both so excited about this book — it was great fun to write and people are loving it.

    CateS – I know. When writing my novella, I kept asking myself if I would have the nerve to be a mail order bride.

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