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Object: Matrimony: The Risky Business of Mail-Order Matchmaking on the Western Frontier

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Desperate to strike it rich during the Western Gold Rushes and eager for the free land afforded them through the Homestead Act, men went west alone and sacrificed many creature comforts. Only after they arrived at their destinations did some of them realize how much they missed female companionship. One way for men living on the frontier to meet women was through subscript Desperate to strike it rich during the Western Gold Rushes and eager for the free land afforded them through the Homestead Act, men went west alone and sacrificed many creature comforts. Only after they arrived at their destinations did some of them realize how much they missed female companionship. One way for men living on the frontier to meet women was through subscriptions to heart-and-hand clubs. The men received newspapers with information, and sometimes photographs, about women, with whom they corresponded. Eventually, a man might convince a woman to join him in the West, and in matrimony. Social status, political connections, money, companionship, or security were often considered more than love in these arrangements. Complete with historic photographs and actual advertisements from both women seeking husbands and males seeking brides, Object Matrimony includes stories of courageous mail order brides and their exploits as well as stories of the marriage brokers, mercenary matchmakers looking to profit as merchants did off of the miners and settlers. Some of these stories end happily ever after; others reveal desperate situations that robbed the brides of their youth and sometimes their lives.


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Desperate to strike it rich during the Western Gold Rushes and eager for the free land afforded them through the Homestead Act, men went west alone and sacrificed many creature comforts. Only after they arrived at their destinations did some of them realize how much they missed female companionship. One way for men living on the frontier to meet women was through subscript Desperate to strike it rich during the Western Gold Rushes and eager for the free land afforded them through the Homestead Act, men went west alone and sacrificed many creature comforts. Only after they arrived at their destinations did some of them realize how much they missed female companionship. One way for men living on the frontier to meet women was through subscriptions to heart-and-hand clubs. The men received newspapers with information, and sometimes photographs, about women, with whom they corresponded. Eventually, a man might convince a woman to join him in the West, and in matrimony. Social status, political connections, money, companionship, or security were often considered more than love in these arrangements. Complete with historic photographs and actual advertisements from both women seeking husbands and males seeking brides, Object Matrimony includes stories of courageous mail order brides and their exploits as well as stories of the marriage brokers, mercenary matchmakers looking to profit as merchants did off of the miners and settlers. Some of these stories end happily ever after; others reveal desperate situations that robbed the brides of their youth and sometimes their lives.

30 review for Object: Matrimony: The Risky Business of Mail-Order Matchmaking on the Western Frontier

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kristi Thielen

    Engaging, easy read about mail-0rder matchingmaking. The book's title includes the words "on the Western Frontier," but the anecdotal information includes matches made into the early part of the 20th century. Matrimonial newspapers, which ran ads for mates, were eagerly sought out by the lovelorn and consistently sneered at by uppity easterners who considered themselves superior to the tastes and behaviors of those beyond the Missouri River. (Most westerners will tell you that this prejudice con Engaging, easy read about mail-0rder matchingmaking. The book's title includes the words "on the Western Frontier," but the anecdotal information includes matches made into the early part of the 20th century. Matrimonial newspapers, which ran ads for mates, were eagerly sought out by the lovelorn and consistently sneered at by uppity easterners who considered themselves superior to the tastes and behaviors of those beyond the Missouri River. (Most westerners will tell you that this prejudice continues to this day, on a variety of issues.) As is true of all matches made remotely, some were great successes and some resulted in a bride or groom (usually a bride) who took one look at their intended and grabbed the next train out of town. And some matches were made by deceivers out to bilk the other party of their hard-earned money. (Again, brides were more likely to do this.) It was interesting to learn that men overwhelmingly preferred widows to single women, when it came to looking for a spouse. Everybody admires someone with experience . . .

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kristin Holt

    I read OBJECT: MATRIMONY, a nonfiction book on the subject of 'The Risky Business of Mail-Order Matchmaking on the Western Frontier' by Chris Enss primarily for my own understanding of that slice of American history. I was delighted by the careful organization, clear and precise writing, humorous anecdotes, well-documented historical sources, and the wide range of true-to-history mail-order marriages the book covers. I share more details about what Ms. Enss did so supremely well in this nonfictio I read OBJECT: MATRIMONY, a nonfiction book on the subject of 'The Risky Business of Mail-Order Matchmaking on the Western Frontier' by Chris Enss primarily for my own understanding of that slice of American history. I was delighted by the careful organization, clear and precise writing, humorous anecdotes, well-documented historical sources, and the wide range of true-to-history mail-order marriages the book covers. I share more details about what Ms. Enss did so supremely well in this nonfiction title in my blog review. See: http://www.kristinholt.com/archives/3550 I recommend this nonfiction title for its ease in reading, entertainment (and instructive) value, and as a significant source of background information for those who enjoy reading fiction (including romance) set in the 19th century American west.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    I loved this book - what a fun piece of non-fiction (and short!). Jam-packed full of information on mail-order brides (1 of only 2 books that I've found!) with anecdotes and ads and pictures and you name it. Because this is non-fiction, however, I would have liked a bit more help on the research side of things - statistics, a timeline of sorts, etc. Solid B+, but I ate it up like an A+. I loved this book - what a fun piece of non-fiction (and short!). Jam-packed full of information on mail-order brides (1 of only 2 books that I've found!) with anecdotes and ads and pictures and you name it. Because this is non-fiction, however, I would have liked a bit more help on the research side of things - statistics, a timeline of sorts, etc. Solid B+, but I ate it up like an A+.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    What did singles (a few already marrieds did slip their way in) do before match.com? They used newspapers to advertise for a mate. This book is interesting in a school book kind of way. Lots of short examples of good and bad matches.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kay Mendenhall

    You know this book wasn't to bad although I wish it had more stories not just facts. Ok so its a non fiction fact book but I liked reading about the true love stories anyway that's why I gave it 3 stars. You know this book wasn't to bad although I wish it had more stories not just facts. Ok so its a non fiction fact book but I liked reading about the true love stories anyway that's why I gave it 3 stars.

  6. 5 out of 5

    PennsyLady (Bev)

    Object: Matrimony: The Risky Business Of Mail-Order Matchmaking On The Western Frontier by Chris Enss This was a quick read (168 pages) and an entertaining look at men/women who pursued relationships by advertisement. There were some true love matches but many paid for their haste in seeking a spouse. I appreciated the inclusion of the Harvey Girls. Along the railway routes of the Southwest, they were carefully chosen by Fred Harvey to staff his lunch rooms. They were not wealthy but instead simple, d Object: Matrimony: The Risky Business Of Mail-Order Matchmaking On The Western Frontier by Chris Enss This was a quick read (168 pages) and an entertaining look at men/women who pursued relationships by advertisement. There were some true love matches but many paid for their haste in seeking a spouse. I appreciated the inclusion of the Harvey Girls. Along the railway routes of the Southwest, they were carefully chosen by Fred Harvey to staff his lunch rooms. They were not wealthy but instead simple, decent, hard working, attractive girls (18-30) with the decorum required of a Harvey Girl. They often also sought marriage partners and they were encouraged to marry men who were "sober and honorable." I'm sure this was less risky than mail-order matchmaking. This was a nice snapshot of a trend in the latter 19th century in the developing western frontier.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Haris Mohammad

    Won from a Goodreads giveaway sponsored by the author and publisher.Not really fun to read, however, this is a literary bible as it contains tons and tons of anecdotes and newspaper stories on the topic of mail-order marriages.From this book, you can certainly build an idea of how long it took for the author to find all these newspapers to get her information, which I'm certain is 100% accurate and credible.The only problem I have which is a major one is the fact that for a subject packed with e Won from a Goodreads giveaway sponsored by the author and publisher.Not really fun to read, however, this is a literary bible as it contains tons and tons of anecdotes and newspaper stories on the topic of mail-order marriages.From this book, you can certainly build an idea of how long it took for the author to find all these newspapers to get her information, which I'm certain is 100% accurate and credible.The only problem I have which is a major one is the fact that for a subject packed with emotions like tears, stress, fear, anxiety, but this book doesn't contain much emotion.A suggestion I give is that it needs more pictures to bring this subject to life for the reader.Instead, this book gives the impression that marriage through mail-ordering was actually dull.However, one fascinating thing that I learned was how ready people were to travel vast distances in search of a partner who they don't even know.I feel that it was the culture of the time and how it was a clear-cut image of people's view of marriage back then.None of the human mindset and cultures of that time period is explored which kinda left me disappointed because I was expecting a deeper study.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    So I loved this book. It was an easy read and I was able to read it in a weekend (although I was sick so I had a lot of down time). The writing was straight to the point and included some interesting stories and pictures. You can tell the author did her homework. The only thing I wish there was a little more of would be more personal stories. Granted there probably isn't a lot of information about how these people felt or how they made their marriages work or things like that but having just an So I loved this book. It was an easy read and I was able to read it in a weekend (although I was sick so I had a lot of down time). The writing was straight to the point and included some interesting stories and pictures. You can tell the author did her homework. The only thing I wish there was a little more of would be more personal stories. Granted there probably isn't a lot of information about how these people felt or how they made their marriages work or things like that but having just an overview of their stories left me wanting more! What happened to them? How did they survive? Were they happy? Some of the stories included that but for the most part they were high level stories with just the bare minimum. That may be all that was available but it would have been nice to have more developed stories. Very fascinating book though. I highly recommend to anyone! It was so interesting to see why a person would advertise for a mail order bride or why a woman would advertise herself...Loved this!!!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Interesting topic; not interesting writing. I don't feel the author put a lot of effort into this book. And I wonder how thick the book would be without the constant quoting of others. Do I care to read 12 examples of an ad in a row? No. 3 would have been enough to make the point. Large chunks of articles from old newspapers were included as well. Some taking up several pages. The organization in the book was lacking as well. It jumped all over the place and didn't give a lot of facts about the Interesting topic; not interesting writing. I don't feel the author put a lot of effort into this book. And I wonder how thick the book would be without the constant quoting of others. Do I care to read 12 examples of an ad in a row? No. 3 would have been enough to make the point. Large chunks of articles from old newspapers were included as well. Some taking up several pages. The organization in the book was lacking as well. It jumped all over the place and didn't give a lot of facts about the practice. Lots of anecdotal evidence and quotes of what newspapers of the time printed about it, but not a lot of research into impact ect. There are probably better books on the topic.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Quest

    This is a wonderful guide book to the matchmaking techniques employed during the old west, including actual newspaper ads and the detailed process of posting "want ads" for marriageable bachelors/bachelorettes. Quite informative and well-researched. This is a wonderful guide book to the matchmaking techniques employed during the old west, including actual newspaper ads and the detailed process of posting "want ads" for marriageable bachelors/bachelorettes. Quite informative and well-researched.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    The author often veers away from the "Western Frontier" of the title by outlining stories of matchmaking gone wrong in places like Pennsylvania and London. I had a hard time taking this author seriously. The author often veers away from the "Western Frontier" of the title by outlining stories of matchmaking gone wrong in places like Pennsylvania and London. I had a hard time taking this author seriously.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Miss Clark

    A great deal of research went into this, but it lacked a cohesive style to truly tie it together. Dry and dull despite the funny, touching, and tragic stories it could have expanded upon.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jerry Jares

    One of the most powerful aspects of this book is Chris Enss care in selecting stories; she surveyed a range of brides and bridegrooms and the methods they used to get together. Before reading this book, I had no idea there were any other avenues to marriage than mail-order brides. A variety of publications and marriage brokers were available from 1849 to 1916. Immediately after the Civil War, there was a severe imbalance in population by gender. For example, the East was awash in widows and unmar One of the most powerful aspects of this book is Chris Enss care in selecting stories; she surveyed a range of brides and bridegrooms and the methods they used to get together. Before reading this book, I had no idea there were any other avenues to marriage than mail-order brides. A variety of publications and marriage brokers were available from 1849 to 1916. Immediately after the Civil War, there was a severe imbalance in population by gender. For example, the East was awash in widows and unmarried women while thousands of men were looking for a wife in the West. Men went west for the Gold Rush, mining adventures and cheap land. It didn't take long for the men to realize that they wanted wives but there were few coming West. In most areas, men outnumbered women by 200 to one and more! The demand was so great that even whores had no trouble leaving the life and becoming a treasured wife and mother. Enss highlights a wide range of stories and situations. The only thing I didn't enjoy was her writing style. Enss did careful research but the stories seemed blah. To be fair, it could also have been the fact that the stories were only a few pages long; it's hard to build drama in 2 or 3 pages. There didn't seem to be any organized plan for the book; it was a collection of anecdotes and interesting facts. Unfortunately, most of the facts were stated at least twice. I was surprised that such a fascinating topic could be presented in such a ho-hum fashion. 3 stars

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sallie Dunn

    Mediocre at best, Random stories about mail order brides and men out west looking for wives. No rhyme or reason. No chronological order just a mish mash of mediocrely written vignettes from the late 1800’s and early 1900,’s. Don’t waste your time.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    Interesting and fun book to read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    Very interesting! a light read about something very important in America's history Very interesting! a light read about something very important in America's history

  17. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    This book was quite an enjoyable read - I began it one evening and finished it the subsequent morning, almost without realizing it. Prior to my encounter with this book, I had read a few things about the Old West's shortage of women and the ensuing mail-order bride trend, but my knowledge was merely surface deep (at best). As such, my biggest delight in reading this book was discovering more about these fascinating marriages, both on individual and wider social levels. I was especially enchanted This book was quite an enjoyable read - I began it one evening and finished it the subsequent morning, almost without realizing it. Prior to my encounter with this book, I had read a few things about the Old West's shortage of women and the ensuing mail-order bride trend, but my knowledge was merely surface deep (at best). As such, my biggest delight in reading this book was discovering more about these fascinating marriages, both on individual and wider social levels. I was especially enchanted by the author's inclusion of multiple genuine personal ads, mail-order bride ads, and other singles ads from the era - reading the thoughts of these men and women, in their own words, was both fascinating and incredibly insightful as to their motivations and hopes. The personal anecdotes were, by far, my favorites part of this book and the author most certainly did not disappoint in this regard. In fact, a wide variety of personal stories are included, ranging from true-love matches, to reluctant weddings, all the way to tricks, bigamy schemes, and even violence. My only criticism (I'd give this book 3.5 stars, to be more accurate, if I could) is the lack of wider historical and social contextualization throughout the text. As a student of history, I was able to supply some of this myself, but I feel that the author's work would have been much more strengthened by a deeper analysis. As such, the book reads as a lively presentation of research, conveniently and pleasantly assembled for the reader - which is entirely enjoyable! I simply would have liked to learn in a more investigative, historiographical manner. Nevertheless, this book was a thoroughly entertaining and often educational read and has whetted my appetite for discovering more about the curious (and dramatic) mail-order bride business in the Old American West. (FYI: I received a free copy of this book as part of a Goodreads Giveaway.)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Eric Wurm

    Have you ever reads personal ads on Craigslist just for the entertainment value? Imagine going back to the middle of the 19th century and doing the same thing. On the western frontier there were many men seeking fortune, and few women to marry. In the east, the ratio was poor for women looking to meet a life mate after the civil war. The solution: mail order love. This book is both history and humor. It chronicles the rise of matchmaking by mail while offering humorous stories about the successe Have you ever reads personal ads on Craigslist just for the entertainment value? Imagine going back to the middle of the 19th century and doing the same thing. On the western frontier there were many men seeking fortune, and few women to marry. In the east, the ratio was poor for women looking to meet a life mate after the civil war. The solution: mail order love. This book is both history and humor. It chronicles the rise of matchmaking by mail while offering humorous stories about the successes and failures of finding love before there was Tinder. All of the same problems existed. Many romances by mail were destroyed when one of the correspondents turns out to be not as formidable, attractive, or as high on the social ladder as was suggested. This book will certainly appeal to readers of 19th century American history. It's short at 150 pages, it doesn't wax verbose, and there's always a laugh around the corner. The topic is not something I'd normally search out, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Disclaimer: I received this book from the fine and generous author free of charge for the purpose of review. Further disclaimer: Any author that provides me with a quality book free of charge will be referred to as "fine and generous".

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This short book just scratches the surface of the topic, but it was a fun read. It contains actual want-ads submitted to the "Matrimonial News" and other publications that were popular from the mid 1800s to the 1920s or thereabouts. Some of the stories ended happily, some were tragic (and/or criminal) or merely disappointing, but it showed that human nature hasn't really changed, this was just the match.com of its day. This short book just scratches the surface of the topic, but it was a fun read. It contains actual want-ads submitted to the "Matrimonial News" and other publications that were popular from the mid 1800s to the 1920s or thereabouts. Some of the stories ended happily, some were tragic (and/or criminal) or merely disappointing, but it showed that human nature hasn't really changed, this was just the match.com of its day.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Interesting and amusing overview of the mail-order bride industry in the US. Although the stories are interesting and the added extras (photos, ads, poetry) are fun, i would have liked a little bit more depth or structure. Stories are just touched on and there doesn't seem to be any overriding logic as to what's included where, so the info gets a little repetitive and random. Interesting and amusing overview of the mail-order bride industry in the US. Although the stories are interesting and the added extras (photos, ads, poetry) are fun, i would have liked a little bit more depth or structure. Stories are just touched on and there doesn't seem to be any overriding logic as to what's included where, so the info gets a little repetitive and random.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Joanna

    I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway. It's a fun read and covers most any situation you can think of regarding the topic. It is well researched with quotes from advertisements and photographs that make the subject come alive. Thank you! I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway. It's a fun read and covers most any situation you can think of regarding the topic. It is well researched with quotes from advertisements and photographs that make the subject come alive. Thank you!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Nydell

    Well done. There were many diverse stories, some quite entertaining. Well researched and nice illustrations. This was good light reading, and I learned a lot.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    Mostly anecdotal - I would have liked more background history, but it wasn't bad overall. Mostly anecdotal - I would have liked more background history, but it wasn't bad overall.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    I liked reading all the fun storied of successful and not successful mail order bride stories! A fun read. It got a little text booky at times with some long excepts and/or quotes.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Holly Newton

    Very interesting, but not exciting. Facts abound in early matchmaking. This book shows an old version of online dating.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Higgins

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rosemary

  28. 5 out of 5

    George

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jane Thompson

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Kizer

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