A big Wildflower Welcome to Janet today! Please leave a comment for the name draw for a print version of Mail-Order Mistletoe Brides!
I’m Janet Tronstad (USA Today Bestselling author with Harlequin Love Inspired) – waving to those I’ve chatted with when I’ve been a guest here before. I’m delighted to be with you again today. This time I’m talking about a time when a dreadful war led to widespread romance – the story of the Civil War and the Old West mail-order bride.
My good friend, Jillian Hart, and I recently did some interviews with Amazing Books, a modest Chicago-based cable program, and I talked about the impact the Civil War had on matrimony in the United States. See excerpt of my part on You-Tube at
So many men died in the war, primarily on the east coast, that for decades later there was a lack of marriageable men and, with the Civil War widows, an increase in women seeking marriage. Estimates say that in 1865 there were as many as 30,000 single women on the east coast – women who wanted to marry and had no hope of doing so.
I’m going to stop right now and ask you. What would you be willing to risk to find love? How far would you travel? What uncertainty would you face?
These women in the late 1800’s were willing to risk everything to find a husband. As we all know, single women had limited economic resources in those days. What jobs they might find were generally poorly paid and often came with an uncertain future. Being single, they would also have no children, a fact that grieved many of them.
They were truly desperate for marriage, but they weren’t the only ones.
A large number of men in the Plains also had little chance of matrimony because so few single women lived there. This led some enterprising souls to set up ‘heart and hand’ catalogs, folded double sheets and broadsides devoted exclusively to ads for people seeking marriage. In addition magazines like Ladies Home Journal started running regular matrimonial columns (at one point, the magazine declared Wyoming a heaven for spinsters and widows).
I have been fascinated with the lives of these women who were willing to risk marriage to a stranger in hopes of finding love and family. When I became aware of the plight of these women, I started to imagine the meetings that took place at railroad stations all across the West as the brides met their promised husbands for the first time.
This is the inspiration and backdrop for the series of Mail-Order bride books that Jillian Hart and I have written for the last several Christmases. Each of these stories starts when the train arrives in town. The third of these annual books, ‘Mail-Order Mistletoe Brides,’ comes out on December 1. It tells the stories of Mercy Jacobs who marries for the sake of her young son and Maeve Flanagan who has a secret her promised husband knows nothing about. Each bride arrives in the Montana Territory just before Christmas.
Again, I’d like you to picture yourself in their place. Would you marry a stranger for security? For the hope of children? For help raising (and in some cases feeding) the children you already have? After you answer, put yourself in the time period of these women, with the limitations you would have in your life. Then decide how you would answer.
Trust me, these are questions I have wrestled with as I’ve written these books (we have three mail-order bride books out now – see covers of the two others here). Let me know your answers. I’m curious.