before anyone thought about connecting computers to create a digital communication
network that would span the world in an instant, Texans relied heavily on another
medium to send and receive messages: the first class letter.
a handwritten or typed letter in your mailbox is rarer these days than a bank
offering a no-cost checking account, once upon a time they arrived as frequently
as we now receive what made mail virtually extinct: email. Like electronic mail,
old-fashioned mail ranged from friendly exchanges between acquaintances and family
to business correspondence to love letters.
Even online dating had its
snailmail antecedents. Many a romance bloomed from the exchange of cards and letters.
And sometimes, a letter writer advertised for love.
the summer of 1915, when it cost just two cents to send a letter anywhere in the
United States or its territorities, the following piece of mail arrived at the
offices of the Cattleman Magazine in Fort
“If you know some nice, middle-aged,
well-to-do cattleman who is tired of single blessedness, please send me his name.
My friend and I, two widows by death, are also tired of having no one to love,
and would be willing to marry a good, honest, kind, considerate, truthful, loyal,
pure-minded, middle-aged, nice looking man.
“He must not drink, gamble,
or swear. He need not be a church member nor handsome, but nice looking and good.
We want to come to Texas to live…we are the same complexion, same size, and the
same disposition. I am about three years older than she is. I prefer a smooth-shaven
man, but if fine looking, I would consider others. Also prefer medium or tall
man, not necessarily handsome, but good looking.
“P.S. – He must be lovable,
as that is what he is wanted for.”
The letter came from Los Angeles.
the July 1915 issue of the magazine went out to the members of the Texas and Southwestern
Cattle Raisers Association and others on the organization’s mailing list, it contained
the letter from the ladies in California, minus their names.
“These ladies are so easily pleased that they should
have no trouble winning husbands from among the range bachelors of Texas,” the
Fort Worth Star-Telegram observed after one of its staff members read the “husbands
wanted” plea in the magazine. “Practically all stockmen in the state fill the
bill of qualifications, with the possible exception of swearing.”
was Cattleman editor A.C. Williams just having a little fun with his readers,
having created the letter from whole cloth, or did he really get it? If it was
a piece of fiction, the magazine perpetuated the hoax a half-century later by
reprinting the letter in its “Looking Back” column in its July 1965 issue.
It’s hard to believe a marriage-minded woman would use the term “single blessedness”
unless she meant to be sarcastic. And the use of “widows by death” sounds a bit
odd coming from a woman, unless she meant to draw a clear distinction between
her status, and that of her friend, by making sure any prospective cattlemen did
not confuse them with “grass widows,” then slang for divorced women. Finally,
the “he must be lovable, as that is what he is wanted for” line does not sound
particularly feminine, especially by pre-World
War I standards.
Assuming the letter really came from a couple of
LA women looking to find homes on the range in the Lone Star State by hitching
up with two cattlemen (apparently, no plain ole cowpokes need have applied), wonder
if they ever succeeded in lassoing two “well-to-do” gents willing to give up their
“singled blessedness” for a pair of gals aiming to burn their brand on a pair
Cox - October
13, 2011 column
Texas Marriages | People