Let’s face it, we’re all here because we love to read western romance! Our heroes meet our heroines, they overcome obstacles, they fall in love, they live happily ever after. We never get tired of reading about them!
Back in the day, however, for some men, the pleasures of courtship came far too late. In many areas there just weren’t enough women to go around. And even when there was, love failed to bloom, or fear overrode desire leaving in its wake a safe, though occasionally nervous unmarried man: the bachelor.
Women were hard to come by on the frontier and the scarcity of women was particularly evident during dances. Square dances were popular back in the day and it was difficult to fill two or three sets with mixed partners. This is where the scarcity of women was particularly evident. Men drafted to be women as dance partners wore handkerchiefs tied around their upper arms to reveal their “lady status.” A reward of $0.25 per female was offered in the hope of finding women, but the money was seldom paid out. One Nebraska settler once quoted, “This is a lonely place for single women. There are a number of single men of marriageable age and nearly all have a bird in view as soon as they can get a cage ready. That is if a bird happened to be flying in their vicinity! Which, in some areas, wasn’t very often.
The bachelor’s role in frontier society was well defined and embraced men from all walks of life, from dusty cowpokes to
cranky Argonauts. When confronting a female presence they all seemed frozen to the spot. The prairies were huge and isolated. Without wife or family, the bachelor languished alone, or as many did, with other bachelors. Most did backbreaking work all day then had to do their own cooking and washing. Their only amusement was the occasional card game or a trip to town. In town, there were gambling saloons and girls, but most men longed for the company of decent women.
The fact was, single men depended upon women. Who else could fix rips in their clothing and bake bread? “Batching it” did not come easy for men. The bachelor’s meal lacked variety, especially when the bachelor was working in the field. One man, by the name of Anderson, would cook up a large kettle of oatmeal in the morning, eat some of it at noon and if there was any left in the evening, finish it for supper. Bachelors longed for dinner invitations and would go to any extreme to sit down in an actual family setting. Can you just imagine how it was for these men around the holidays?
So is it any wonder why we love reading about these rough, tough men of the frontier and old west finding true love? It’s one of the reasons we authors love writing it too! From the general store owner to the cowboy on the range, what type of “bachelors” do you like to read about? I’ll pick a random winner to receive a copy of A Very Weaver Christmas, where one woman’s cooking has an entire town in an uproar and budding romance happens, no matter what some might do to stop it.