It seems that on a nearly daily basis we are confronted by examples of how things have changed over time.
Most of these examples are predictable, but every so often, one catches my attention and makes me think.
Such was the case recently when I was editing some copy for an upcoming publication.
It included a reference to the early history of a local township.
The entry in the history book noted that the township’s population began to increase as settlers got married and had children.
There is hardly anything surprising about that.
The part that caught my attention involved the events surrounding the first two marriages that took place in the township.
Apparently, two men had been living alone, and doing their own cooking and housework. Eventually, according to the history book, they grew tired of the “lonely life,” and decided to take action.
In November 1857, the men went to St. Paul for the express purpose of finding wives. In two or three days, they returned to the township, having succeeded.
As a recovering ex-married person, I think I can understand how the two pioneers felt about “the lonely life.” I concede there are times when it is nice to have another person around with which to share things.
As to their other concerns, I have lived alone for several years, and if I don’t cook, I don’t eat. If I don’t attend to the housework, it doesn’t get done.
So, I think I have a reasonable picture of what life must have been like for these two pioneer bachelors.
Despite that, it does strike me as humorous when I imagine the conversations that led up to their trip to the big city.
I picture them at the end of a long work day, kicking back with whatever refreshment people enjoyed in those days. One guy leans back, and says, “Well, Joe, I’m tired of all this housework, and I’m tired of living alone. What do you say we travel to St. Paul and find us a couple of wives?”
It must have been an interesting discussion.
I have heard plenty of guys talk about going out to pick up women, but usually that involves a night of dancing or other entertainment, not a lifetime commitment.
Even then, these modern Romeos are not always successful.
The problem seems to be that having a willing “seeker” is not enough. One also requires a willing “seekee,” and sometimes, the ladies are reluctant to play ball.
In view of that, one has to admire the confidence of the pioneers who set out, not to find dates for the evening, but to meet women and convince them to get married.
I have been trying to imagine how those conversations must have gone.
I have been out of the dating scene for some time now, and I never was all that smooth when it came to opening negotiations with the fairer sex, but I do seem to recall that a certain amount of diplomacy is required.
We know from the story that the two pioneer bachelors set out to find wives to do the cooking and the housework, but I doubt that they led with that. Even in the pre-Civil War years, when people were used to hard physical labor, I doubt that women would have jumped at the opportunity to leave the city to do chores for these guys in the wilderness.
It seems to me that asking a woman you have just met to leave her home, marry you, and come and live with you in a rural township she has never heard of, would require negotiations of a much more delicate nature.
Furthermore, I wonder where the pioneer men found these prospective wives.
Women didn’t hang out with their friends in bars in those days. They probably weren’t even allowed in bars, unless they were working there.
There were churches, I suppose, but they might not provide the best ambiance for a quest.
My knowledge of history is incomplete, and I don’t know where a person would have gone to find a wife back then. Come to think of it, I’m not exactly sure where a person would go to find one today, but that is straying from the point.
I suspect asking a stranger for her hand in marriage would have been a difficult pitch to make even back then, but when I consider how such a discussion would go today, it seems that one’s chances for success would be extremely limited.
Women today are much more independent. They have careers and hobbies, and are likely to be much more selective when choosing a mate.
The modern woman is hardly likely to accept the first scruffy character who strolls out of the wilderness looking for a female companion.
Technology and better transportation options give people access to a much larger pool of potential mates, and they can afford to be much more choosy than their counterparts back in the 1850s were.
I have a suspicion that the days when one can go to the city and pick up a wife are long gone (and that is a good thing, in many ways).
I am still curious about what sort of a line or sales pitch these brave pioneers used to convince women in the city to take a chance and get hitched. The history book does not reveal what line of work the gentlemen were in, but if they were in sales, one supposes they must have been at the top of their field.