"Wife Wanted" Missouri, Godey's Lady's Book Lends Cupid A Hand (With Footnotes)


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JPK Huson 1863

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wife wanted a.jpg
wife wanted b.jpg

A letter Sarah Hale had the kindness ( and sense of humor ) to print deserves a bride out of Godey's Lady's Book

This is wonderful. Little pre-war, Godey's received a letter that must have tickled Hale- she printed it. Some terms and references might be obscure- thought I'd add footnotes......


" A Wife Wanted,

The writer of the following poem ( we omit a few flourishes ) seems in earnest. If any Lady wishes go “ Out West “, the opportunity is now offered . Of course she will study the map, and Mr. Benton’s book and find out where the ‘ snug little town’ is before she makes up her mind.

Dear Mr. Godey, and you, Mrs. Hale,


Will excuse, I am certain, this desecration of the mail,


For I have weighty reason as you will find ere I am done,


Perhaps they fill a bushel , perhaps it’s only one,


wife wanted basket kiss.JPG

Bushel baskets and romance do not seem to go together like PB & J, how wrong we can be.


When I tell you where I hail from, And I find out what’s to pay,


Perhaps we’ll strike a bargain in an honest merchant’s way.


wife wanted merchant wife 1620.JPG
wife wanted merchant wife 1620 2.JPG

Merchant's wife, Paris, 1620- she could have been advertised for in Godey's

Well then out in Missouri there’s a snug little town,


All graveled, graded and macadamized all around,


With plank roads and railroads and rivers, a few


wife wanted godeys road.jpg

Well, logs were used, too

That reach round creation and back again, too


Perhaps a little incident will bring to mind it’s name


For it ships a pile of bacon and a mighty lot of grain.


wife wanted pig french.jpg

I don't know why. It was there waiting to be found

Or, if I still have the vantage, you will find it if you look,


On Uncle Sam’s big map and Mr. Benton’s book



Thomas Hart Benton , b. 1782, wrote “ 30 Years View “ and a number of articles on western expansion- could have been either ‘ book ‘ referred to here. A Tennessee Senator born in North Carolina, lawyer Thomas Hart Benton, was a five term senator with views on our black citizens so progressive as to be unbelievable. As early as 1809 Benton campaigned for the vote for the black population and was wildly unpopular over his fight to keep slavery from expanding into the territories. Western expansion was his greatest interest, Missouri in particular. Missouri , his new home after becoming unpopular in Tennessee ( not over slavery- brother Jesse shot Jackson in the arm, long story ) , benefitted hugely from Thomas Benton’s various enthusiasm althoughtrelieved the state of a fellow lawyer- killed in a duel. Benton is a great story, look him up.


‘Tis a little west of sunrise and eastward of the hill, pockets fill.

With a river just before it and a prairie in the rear,

Where the comets dance a Scottisch in the winter of the year

schottishce.jpg

A kind of slow polka popular through several eras

Now, there many things do happen in this little town of ours.

Which set the buck and bachelors gaping by the hours,

wife wanted young bucks.jpg

Young men, some town's bucks ( probably really students but you get the idea )

And as I am just midway between those doubtful ages,


I am entitled to the counsels of editors and sages,


**********************************************************************

Now I think with your assistance , if you make my wishes known,


My prospects and appearance are rather good, I own,


I’ve a snug house in the country and a hundred acres ‘ round,


And another in the city of this little mighty town,


And then I have a mule team, and rockaway and sleigh,


That can beat a steamboat walking in the two and forty way!

wife wanted sleigh.jpg




And these I wish to barter for the requisite of life,


A helpmate and a better half, in other words, a wife.


Now I am not particular about either form or face,


But would like a pleasing countenance with just a touch of grace,


An eye that beams with pleasure, a a spirit light and gay,


As the winds upon the prairies when the zephyr are at play.
nymph taglioni crop.jpg

Marie Taglioni, 1830's dance icon playing a zephyr- really a wood nymph of mythology. Tough to post a pic because they seem to have detested clothing.

And if you think there is one who would like to come out West,

I’ll send along the Golden Boys by Adam’s Express

Golden Boy- slang for money

wife wanted adams express.JPG

Adams Express, still delivering pretty much anything, anywhere, was founded in 1854- an office at Fort Monroe in 1861 is the backdrop to this ( Leslie's? ) illustration.

I would add a postscript but this must go out tonight,


And I hasten to subscribe myself,


Billy Carroll White


OH I hope he picked up his bride at the nearest Adam's Express off and lived happily ever Missouri.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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Just an addition, tooling through papers last night- ' Wife Wanted ' ads were a little common in the 1850's, can't find as many in ' our ' decade but they were still a ' thing '. Also looking into who Billy White may have been and ( harder to ascertain ) was his Godey's ad successful?
 

Mrs. V

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Well, back in the day, there was often not much sentiment in marriage..do you want a husband and children, provided he won’t beat you, and provide a certain quality of life? In that line over there please...smile..
 

Patrick H

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Well, I have lived in central Missouri all my life and I'll be darned if I can figure this out. Served by river and railroad narrows things down a bit, I guess. I am still pondering. Sorry I can't decipher.
 

Lusty Murfax

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Well, I have lived in central Missouri all my life and I'll be darned if I can figure this out. Served by river and railroad narrows things down a bit, I guess. I am still pondering. Sorry I can't decipher.
Chillicothe? On both the Grand River and the Hannibal - St. Joe RR. Otherwise, St. Joe, Hannibal, Jefferson City or St. Louis.
 

Lusty Murfax

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I always remember some old movies and TV series that had mail order brides. I guess it was more prevalent. But people still getting brides from Russia, Asia etc. You see it now and then on TV or written in paper.

Great thread. You always finds such interesting things.
I have a neighbor from Helena who divorced his first wife and ordered his second one from a marriage broker in Russia. His Russian bride came to the U.S. with a teenage son. She stayed with him and the son is working in his ag business. When my wife met the local man, she said he looked like the type of man who would have to pay for a mail order bride. Ouch!
 

Patrick H

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Chillicothe? On both the Grand River and the Hannibal - St. Joe RR. Otherwise, St. Joe, Hannibal, Jefferson City or St. Louis.
Quite possibly Chillicothe.

Maybe even Brunswick, although Brunswick isn't directly on a railroad. Then, of course, we could consider my home town of Boonville. Or we could consider Jefferson City. Or we could work our way downstream to Herman, Washington, etc. But how far upstream could we come in that era?
 

Lusty Murfax

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Quite possibly Chillicothe.

Maybe even Brunswick, although Brunswick isn't directly on a railroad. Then, of course, we could consider my home town of Boonville. Or we could consider Jefferson City. Or we could work our way downstream to Herman, Washington, etc. But how far upstream could we come in that era?
Brunswick wasn't on a RR back then. Kansas City wasn't on a RR and neither was Independence or Westport. St. Joe was both on the Missouri River and it was the terminus of the H-SJ RR. I believe they built the spur from Cameron to K.C. several years after the war.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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Brunswick wasn't on a RR back then. Kansas City wasn't on a RR and neither was Independence or Westport. St. Joe was both on the Missouri River and it was the terminus of the H-SJ RR. I believe they built the spur from Cameron to K.C. several years after the war.

You guys are awesome, thank you! Had a shot at it and got more lost than usual- Missouri history is tough. Have an idea only a native has any chance of detangling the whole thing.
 

GS

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Oh, Billy! You started out so business-like... and thankfully, ended your plea as a romantic. I wager he won his bride.

Well done, Annie. Your research and images helped us interpret the poetry.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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Oh, Billy! You started out so business-like... and thankfully, ended your plea as a romantic. I wager he won his bride.

Well done, Annie. Your research and images helped us interpret the poetry.

Kind in you, as ever Gladys! Rampant curiosity- he was just so gosh darn funny, having figured out most of what he was getting at, seemed a shame not to have his whole story. Still wish we knew if his wife had anything to do with the ad.
 

Lusty Murfax

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Chillicothe? On both the Grand River and the Hannibal - St. Joe RR. Otherwise, St. Joe, Hannibal, Jefferson City or St. Louis.
Should have said Chillicothe or Utica. Chilli is situated on the east and Utica on the west side of the Grand River. I recalled that Utica was where the Union troop train carrying reinforcements to attempt to lift the siege of Lexington stopped to disembark them. For all I know, there was a train station located in Utica, though it is and was much smaller than Chillicothe.
 

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