Guest Blog: Author Callie Hutton AN ANGEL IN THE MAIL w/ giveaway!
We welcome Callie Hutton today, a wonderful historical romance writer. This is Callie’s first stop on her An Angel in the Mail book tour! When An Angel in the Mail is released, Callie will give away one ebook copy to one commenter. She’ll also send a bookmark and a $10 Amazon gift card. So make sure you comment! Take it away, Callie Hutton…
The old west was a lonely place for men. Being the more adventurous of the human species, many men left the security of the eastern cities, maybe through choice, or maybe not. The openness, independence, and anonymity of the west lured them in.
Once there, and to some extent, established as storekeepers, ranchers, farmers, or miners, loneliness set in. There wasn’t anyone to look after them. Not only to do the washing, cooking, and cleaning, but to warm their bed, and care if they lived or died. A few of the men took Indian squaws, but many of them longed for the sweet eastern women they left behind.
These women had education, knew how to run a home, how to help established a decent town. Start churches and schools, take care of the sick and poor. What every town needed was women. So began the popular program of mail order brides.
In Washington Territory, where men outnumbered women nine to one in the 1850s and 1860s, a scheme to ship respectable women and families to the shores of Puget Sound was hatched by Asa Mercer. He raised money for the first trip, traveled to the eastern seaboard, and in 1864 brought his first shipload of marriageable women to Seattle. Only eleven women disembarked, leaving a lot of disillusioned bachelors. (Hearts West, Chris Enss, Twodot Publications, 2005).
Other men relied on the advertisements placed by potential brides themselves in newspapers and magazines. One example from The New Plan, a marriage magazine out of Kansas City sometime between 1911 and 1917, when it was in circulation:
“Everybody says that I’m fine looking for my age; am honest, intelligent, neat and clean, kind-hearted, and have a good character. Age, 58, weight, 120, height 5 feet 2 inches; blue eyes; brown hair; fine homemaker. Income $200 per year. Have real estate worth $4,000. Object matrimony. Will answer all letters.”
Apparently, not all brides were young and blushing.
I don’t know about you, but I find the entire thing fascinating. That long before women had many rights, and very few options in life, they took the bull by the horns, so to speak, and looked for a man, even in older years, for companionship, and possibly love.
Another popular way for couples to meet, was for a man to place an ad in an eastern newspaper. He stated his preference in age, coloring, size, and demeanor. Most, however, merely wanted someone to keep them company, and take on chores to help run the farms and ranches.
Then there were the Bride Agencies. Men would pay a fee to an agency, mostly in the east, and designate what qualities they wanted in a wife. The agency would screen the women, and usually a correspondence would strike up between the couple. If a match was agreed upon, the man provided train, and/or stagecoach fare, and some travel money.
In my book, An Angel in the Mail, to be released May 23rd from Soul Mate Publishing, Angel Hardwick is left penniless after a life of indulgence in New York City. Her step-mother arranges for Angel to be a mail order bride to a man in Oregon City with five children.
Angel is not fifty-eight years old, nor is she looking for love. But attempting to make the best of her circumstances, she certainly tries. That she falls short of her new husband’s expectations is no surprise. How do you suppose that turns out?
Excerpt from An Angel in the Mail:
A small wooden table in the corner drew her. She placed the glass on the table and eased her sore and tired body onto the chair. One leg shorter than the other three, the chair rocked as she settled. A woman the size of the counterman came through a curtain separating the area from whatever was in the back. With a brisk nod in Angel’s direction, she headed her way.
“Y’all one of them new whores Dolly’s expectin’? She asked me to look out for ya.” She jerked her thumb in the counterman’s direction. “Jedediah’ll git you out there as soon as the stage pulls out. Dolly’s sure needin’ the help. She cain’t never take a break herself.”
Angel sat in silence, her eyes wide and mouth slack as the woman continued. “Ya’ll gonna have to git rid of them black clothes, though. Dolly’ll fix ya up nice and fancy.”
Tears sprang to her eyes and she gasped, vigorously shaking her head. “No, ma’am, I am not one of the new wh-whores.” She stumbled on the word, and backed the rickety chair against the wall.
“Well, gosh darn. Thadda be a pity.” The woman shifted a wad of tobacco from one cheek to the other, expelling a stream of juice right next to Angel’s shoe. Her gaze roamed over her. “A looker like you’d make a lot of money for yerself. Men around here are dying for some new faces.” Then she thought for a minute and grinned. “And new bodies, too.” She threw her head back in laughter, spaces from missing teeth exposed.
“Jedediah, git yoreself back to work.” The woman shouted in the counterman’s direction as she returned to the back area.
Angel got up from the table and quickly headed for the door
I’d rather sit in the blazing sun. What have I gotten myself into?
My website: http://calliehutton.com/
Buy link (eventually): http://www.soulmatepublishing.com/
Make sure you leave a comment to be eligible to win an electronic copy of An Angel in the Mail, a bookmark, and a $10 Amazon gift card! And if you get a chance, check out Callie Hutton’s other titles: A Run for Love and A Wife by Christmas. Callie’s historical romances are highly regarded–even Sharon K. Sala agrees! (Coupe review, Callie!)
Thanks for being here today, and I wish you great success with your newest title An Angel in the Mail. –xo, Ann Montclair