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Hearts West: True Stories of Mail-Order Brides on the Frontier

3.49  ·  Rating Details ·  571 Ratings  ·  107 Reviews
Desperate to strike it rich during the Gold Rush, thousands of men traveled West to the emerging frontier, where they outnumbered women twelve to one. Only after they arrived did some of them realize how much they missed female companionship.

Hearts West brings to life true stories of mail-order brides of the Gold Rush era. Some found soul mates; others found themselves in
Paperback, 114 pages
Published June 1st 2005 by TwoDot
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Mar 22, 2014 Lori rated it really liked it
I would give this an almost four. this is pretty interesting. It is about mail-order brides. I remember watching a TV show way back in the late 1960s called "Here come The Brides" it was about a logging City of Seattle Washington that had way more males than females so a ship full of perspective brides came to Seattle in the 1800s to meet the men. This book touches on real life stories of men living on the west coast and western states who send for Women usually living on the east coast to come ...more
Cathy Cole
Jul 03, 2011 Cathy Cole rated it it was ok
First Line: The promise of boundless acres of land in the West lured hundreds of men away from farms, businesses, and homes in the eastern states as tales of early explorers and fur trappers filtered back from the frontier.

When all those men wound up on the frontier working gold claims, building businesses, and starting farms and ranches, the one thing that was in very short supply was women. It wasn't long until weekly newspapers like the Matrimonial News began circulation in an attempt to matc
Dec 09, 2010 SheLove2Read rated it liked it
Recommended to SheLove2Read by: fans of the old west, fans of mail order bride stories
Shelves: 2011
If you're a fan of western romance or "marriage of convenience" type stories this is a great little read. It covers the history of mail order brides in the old west and details some of the true life accounts of women who put everything on the line in a bid to find marital happiness, or at the very least, a roof over their heads and the opportunity for children. Its about 120 pages and you can easily read this in one sitting.
Jun 27, 2008 Tara rated it liked it
I loved this book! It was a fun little book that I really enjoyed reading. It was fun to learn more about the social views on mail order brides in the late 1800s and early 1900s. I enjoyed reading about the happy endings and sympathized with the bad endings. I have often joked with my hubby that I was a "mail order bride sent by Heavenly Father" because of the events of our quick engagement and marriage. Because I understand what it's like to marry someone you don't know REALLY well, I found thi ...more
Interesting bits of jounals and letter from men and women searching for their 'soul mates' in the old west. Some had good luck, but not always. A fun & quick read.
Jul 31, 2016 Katherine rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
As I read this little book the jingle " you don't have to be lonely at Farmers only dot com" began to play in my mind. This led me to think about Christian Mingle and other on-line dating services and also took me back to personals in the classified section of the newspaper. Are they still there, I wondered, so went in search of today's copy of our local paper--nope, no personals ads anymore. Things change so much is such a short time, I thought, and yet, other things do not.
There continues to b
Kristin Holt
Hearts West: True Stories of Mail-Order Brides on the Frontier
by Chris Enss

Fans of Western Historical Romance, particularly Mail Order Bride-themed romances will find this nonfiction volume by Chris Enss an enlightening and entertaining read.

I purchased and read Hearts West: True Stories of Mail-Order Brides on the Frontier in paperback, specifically for research for my fiction writing. I read the book expecting a lesson in history and this book definitely delivered (including a bibliography cit
Dec 30, 2016 Adrienne rated it really liked it
Shelves: frontier
Wall-to-wall books - wendy
Mar 09, 2012 Wall-to-wall books - wendy rated it really liked it
This is a subject I have always been interested in! The 1800's is my favorite time period to read about. My daughter thinks I was born about 100 years too late. This book was very interesting. It isn't about just one woman or man, it is short stories telling the outcome of several "Mail-order brides" or the Gentlemen who received them. Excerpts were taken from diaries and letters to make the stories authentic. Some of the arrangements worked out and the couple stayed happily married for years, b ...more
Apr 01, 2014 Amy rated it liked it
This book is a simple and short to read, and was a nice change up to the more emotionally intense reads I'm currently involved in. The author reminded me of the typical book you pick up on road trips when you make stops at different offshoots and sightseeing spectacles. This was clearly focused upon the town of Nevada City, and I can see that the mining town/gold rush roots of this California town were not lost in this author's stories. Hearts West had a nice inclusion of many different aspects ...more
Jan 07, 2015 Andie rated it liked it
The settlement of the western United States was largely done by men who were trying to make their fortunes in the California Gold Rush, the silver mines of Colorado or as farmers or ranchers in the vast expanse of the great plains of the United States. y the end of the Civil War there was a predicament of too many me in the west where men could out-number women by a ratio of 12:1, and too many women in the east where the male population had been depleted due to the war. To solve this problem a n ...more
Ana Vicente
Aug 13, 2010 Ana Vicente rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I bought it as research for a future project, but ended up losing myself completely in its pages.

As the subtitle states, the book is composed of several stories of women and men who met through correspondance during the second half of the XIXth century and the first two decades of the XXth. Each chapter tells a different story with a few of them dedicated not to specific couples, but to people or institutions that helped bring those couples together. There's a good se
Ginny Messina
Short chapters on the lives of real 19th century women who traveled west to marry men they had met through personal ads. In some cases they married on the day they arrived. This was a fun book. The editing was not great, and I was unreasonably disappointed that the chapter about the shipload of brides brought to Seattle did not mention that this story was popularized by the television show “Here Come the Brides.” (I don’t know why I care, but I don’t like to miss a chance to relate things to the ...more
Nov 22, 2014 Hope rated it liked it
Hearts West is a fascinating book recounting the courage (or, in some cases, desperation) of hundreds of single young women at the end of the 19th century in search of husbands. The idea may sound ludicrous, even humorous, to we moderns, but the book makes a very clear case for the necessity of such a phenomenon.

Thousands of men had gone west to either dig for gold or buy up land. Thousands of others had been killed in the Civil War, making marriagable males as scarce as hen's teeth. Without ti
Mar 02, 2014 Pam rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, bios-memoirs
I would really give this a 2.5 rating if I could. It is not a bad book, but I found the short vignettes boring. The author was handicapped by the lack of information and the need to create short pieces on various individuals. But as a result, I was not drawn into the people's lives or compelled to read more vignettes. I was seeking an understanding of the mail-order bride phenomena and found that this author did not really analyze the general situation. My conclusion is that it was the equivalen ...more
May 24, 2013 Elisha rated it liked it
I've been drawn to the west lately, especially the role women played. Hearts West is a short, sit down read that peers into the world of Mail-Order Brides who moved to the west for various reasons. The chapters which looked at individual women were my favorite; recounting their lives and what led to their decision to travel west. I would have liked to see more of these stories. As an archivist I would have loved to see more of the sources reproduced in the book, and the process of how these stor ...more
Apr 16, 2011 Wendy rated it really liked it
I love historical romance books, so when a book comes out that can give a little more insight into a particular time period, I must read it. This was a great book that gave more insight into the mail order brides of the 1800s, which, from romance reading one always assumes that these eventually ended up happily ever after - though after reading this, you realize that for alot of women things weren't so peachy. It also gives some insight into who these women were, what their circumstances were th ...more
Full of Errors

It appears the author was full of ambition by writing on this subject. However, there were so many glaring errors, I can't believe she could be so careless. For instance, she mentions one bride-to-be cared for her siblings from age 11 and did so for 16 years, but left home to marry at 17. Huh? Then she shows a cartoon about mail-order-brides showing a man and woman in mid 1800s clothing and she says it is from 1957? What? She describes a woman in the 1860s as wearing a "Gibson Girl
Penelope Marzec
Times haven't changed much. Women wanted marriageable men way back when. They answered newspaper ads and wrote letters to find their heart's desire. Today we have the internet.

This was an interesting look at the brave women who decided to take the risk of a long and arduous journey to meet a stranger. Simply reading the ads they wrote intrigued me. I do wish the book was longer and filled with more of the individual stories. However, there is a bibliography at the back of the book for those who
Marjorie Campbell
Jul 29, 2010 Marjorie Campbell rated it really liked it
A truly fun read for anyone interested in western nonfiction, Hearts West pulls together a selection of ads, letters, narratives and pamphlets to tell the story of mail order brides from 1850 to 1910 in the US frontier. The authors do little embelishment, leaving some stories only partially told, as much as the historical record permits. This book would also be of interest to anyone interested in the missionary fervor that helped transform the frontier as well as those interested in women's hist ...more
Nov 25, 2012 Jennifer rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Women's Studies
Shelves: american-history
I've had this book in my library for years, but only recently discovered it again. The author offers an interesting look at stories of mail-order brides of the Old West that made me laugh and cry - sometimes as the same time. While Hollywood has provided a glorified glimpse into era of women from the Eastern US traveling to the wild West to find a husband, this book offers up true stories of the brave women who made the trek and the husbands they found ... or who found them. A quick read that an ...more
Apr 17, 2016 Donnell rated it liked it
Nice to have info about mail order brides gathered in book form. Kind of amazing to realize personal ads were alive and well and leading to marriages, in the the 1800s.

To bad more is not known about these women--who were important in settling the West. Some of the stories read as if they were based on a brief news article to which the author added "color"--e.g. details about feelings and weather and location.

Bottom line, though, better to have what is in this book, even if it would be nice to h
Mar 11, 2012 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
I learned so much from this book! Mail order brides were a huge business in the Old West especially after the Civil War. Women were called upon to civilize the west through making homes for the rugged and rough men. The book is a quick read but I took my time, for I wanted to savor it. It is told in a series of vignettes. Some are true stories of happy couples while others were not happy. There are also vignettes about the main people and organizations involved in the business of mail order brid ...more
Dec 12, 2011 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, us-history
This book contains a variety of engaging and entertaining stories about strong women who moved west during Western Expansion. Each story is a little different. Some are funny, some sad, some happy, and all enjoyable to read about. This would be a wonderful read for anyone interested in learning more about the women who helped settle the frontier. It is not a long book, or particularly scholarly book for researchers, but an entertaining read for those looking to understand what women during that ...more
Haley Whitehall
Feb 04, 2014 Haley Whitehall rated it really liked it
Hearts West tells the true stories of many mail order brides and their grooms. This book will debunk any romantic notion you might have. Many of these women chose to be mail order brides because they were desperate and as this book illustrates many marriages were not happy ones. I guess that is my only complaint about this book it is a little depressing with two women trying to commit suicide. I would have liked a few more happy stories included. Surely the author could have found them among all ...more
Jan 23, 2014 Audrey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People that like westerns and enjoy reading about mail-order brides
I was hoping for more actual stories of the brides and grooms. The book had a sampling of some bad experiences and a few good ones but only enough to give you a thirst for more stories. Then the author goes on to list multiple want ads from the prospective brides and grooms. Would be interesting to read a more complete volume of this part in our history. The author spent to much time of the method of the brides coming west or the people in charge of bringing them West and not enough time on the ...more
Maryclaire Zampogna
Internet dating sites have nothing on the likes of the early west's approach to bring eligible females to the western territories. The author reprints the adds that were placed in newspapers and magazines and follows some of them to the end. The stories are true from the diaries of the participants.There are happy tales, some sad and some make you happy to think you live in a different time period. Enjoying to read by all means. Nook edition.
Mar 27, 2014 Truitti rated it really liked it
March 25, 2014 You can not be critical of couples meeting on the internet after you read this book. After all, mail order brides took many more chances and put more on the line in order to find a man. reread October 2015 in light of reading other books on the same subject. Women are incredible, and just as adventurous as men. I feel fortunate that I live in an era where being married isn't a necessity to be a "successful" according to society norms.
Jun 19, 2015 Kathy rated it it was amazing
This is a delightful quick read with much insight into one facet of the gold mining and farming rushes to the western United States: so many lonely men who desired wives and so few women. Some of the best portions to read were the actual "matrimonial ads" submitted by men and women. I thoroughly enjoyed both the history and the profiles on various women who took a deep breath and left all that was familiar to start a new life in the west.
May 09, 2014 Lucia rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this short book about women who went west for love. Having done the same thing, I realized that internet dating is much the same as the 19th century concept of mail-order brides! The best part of the book were the individual stories of women who found love...or not. I wish there had been more individual accounts and less stories about people who tried to get women to move west in large movements.
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