By Glenda Riley
This publication is the 1st cultural interpretation of why marriages dissolve so often within the West, which has had the top divorce expense on the earth because the 1870s. Riley devotes separate chapters to the existence cycle of relationships—courtship, the criteria influencing marriage, the problems of intermarrying, and the dissolving of unions via separation, desertion, and divorce. She reveals that relations clash happened throughout cultures during the West whilst traditions clashed and folks have been unwilling or not able to mix ideals or practices. Riley appears to be like at a variety of courtship and marriage practices between Anglos, local americans, Hispanics, and African americans. She argues that cultural and ethnic traditions frequently overlapped yet by no means gave upward push to broadly approved norms.
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Additional resources for Building and breaking families in the American West
18 Meeting Potential Mates The second stage of courtship, identifying and meeting potential mates, also began simply in the American West. 19 For Native Americans, the village typically provided the locus for courtships. For nineteenth-century Paiutes, in particular, the village hub and tepee offered opportunities for meeting future spouses. Usually a Paiute man Page 12 utilized the village center to attract a woman's attention by displaying his horsemanship and other skills. If she reacted favorably, he entered her family tepee during the night and seated himself, fully dressed, at her feet.
To meet the needs of these unmarried western men, a number of innovative people shipped women west, much like market goods. In 1849 Eliza W. Farnham organized the California Association of American Women. Because she had to travel to San Francisco to settle her deceased husband's affairs, Farnham issued a broadside inviting "intelligent, virtuous and efficient women" to accompany her. 27 During the 1860s, Bostonian Asa Mercer took twelve potential wives to Seattle. On his second journey, he took approximately one hundred women, one of whom he married.
Butler, Richard W. Etulain, and Sharon Hannum Seager have enhanced the grace and readability of these essays. I am also thankful for Ball State University's willingness to provide financial support and writing time and to underwrite the herculean efforts of research assistants Cameron M. (Mike) Sears and David J. Ulbrich. I owe a further debt to the students in my 1994 Summer Institute course on "Women in the American West" at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, for their enthusiastic and helpful responses, and to BBHC conservator Terry Schindle for her telling metaphors.