Buy a Bride

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Buy a Bride

In the mid-eighteen hundreds the first waves of Americans began heading west. They were in search of the American dream; their chance to live happily ever after. This first wave of settlers was for the most part, composed of miners looking to strike it rich. They exploited the mineral resources all over the west, wherever gold was found; the most famous places were in California, Colorado, and the Dakotas. The brave and adventurous men streamed over the continent in wagon trains or around it in ships in order to reach the west coast. Towns sprang up around the different places where gold had been found as well as around places for ships to dock.

The next wave of people to head west was the ranchers. They needed land and western land was far cheaper than land in the east. The ever growing cities in the east needed an ever increasing supply of food and the cattle found on the western plains proved a good and profitable solution.

Shortly after the ranchers the farmers came looking for land. The land in the east was worn out from over cultivation, in stark contrast the western land was rich and virtually untouched, not to mention cheaper. The west was a new and promising land with endless possibilities. (Summitt)

Despite the promise and possibilities there were a few minor problems. One such problem was that the vast majority of the settlers were men. "Men from the eastern states, Canada, and Europe often preceded the women, and then found themselves longing for feminine companionship." (Yalom 226) Population imbalances, combined with geographical isolation and physical distance, often made men frantic to find wives from among the few single Anglo women living in their region of the west. Unfortunately, interracial marriages were not looked upon favorably by the population at large, so even men who had taken Indian brides were looking for women of European decent (15) In some places the problem was worse than in others. In the Washington Territory it has been estimated that the ratio of men to women, regardless of marital status, as high as 9:1 and that there were at least two thousand men in the Territory that wished to get married (Holbrook 47).

This problem was not a simple one to remedy. Men who had enough money traveled east and brought back a wife, but the vast majority of the populous did not have the capital needed to make such a journey possible.
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