Thursday, May 10, 2018


By Cynthia Woolf
Filling in for E. Ayers

Seattle, Washington Territory, 1866

Women wanted!!

The Washington Territory was being settled and mostly by men. Only one person in ten was a woman and by the time most women were fifteen they were already engaged. There were also few prostitutes and the women of the Salish tribe and white men were not always mutually attracted to each other.

One man, Asa Mercer, decided to go back east and recruit women to come west as brides for the men there. This was his second trip. His first brought only ten women. For his second trip he had a more ambitious number in mind, 500 women. He collected $300 per man to bring them back a bride.

Asa Mercer

By the time he got back east, Abraham Lincoln had been shot and the papers in New York and Massachusetts wrote articles stating that the women were going to work in dives or marry old men. By the time the ship left for Seattle in January 1866, the damage had been done and fewer than 100 women set out for Seattle.

When the ship reached San Francisco, the captain refused to go any farther and Mercer finally found crewman on lumber schooners who transported the women for free.

Arriving in Seattle with less than the 500 women promised Mercer was not a popular man and he had to answer many questions about his performance. Public dismay softened, probably because he did have some women with him. One week later, Mercer married one of the Mercer brides, Annie Stephens, and most of the other brides found husbands as well.

My new series is based on this bit of history. The Brides of Seattle has one hundred intrepid women coming west to be brides to men waiting. The men still have to court the women in my stories which concentrate on the five Talbot brothers and the wooing of their brides. 

My latest book in the series is MAIL-ORDER MIX-UP. This is the story of the third Talbot brother, Gabe, and his bride who is not one of the mail order brides but someone who lived on the other side of the mountain owned by Gabe and his brothers and home to Talbot Lumber.

Here is the blurb for the book, which will hopefully be out by the time this blog is published:

She intrigues him.
Gabe Talbot has never met a woman like Josie.
She’s beautiful but dresses like a man.
She’s elegant but cusses like a sailor.
And even though he watched his brother nearly die from heartache when he lost his wife, Gabe is breaking every rule he’s ever had about women.

He’s falling in love.
But Josie has other ideas. She’s never known a man who didn’t abandon his family, her own father included.
She’s independent. Capable. She doesn’t need to depend on anyone. And she doesn’t want a man who’s going to give her another broken heart.

When four lonely orphans enter the picture, Josie might finally accept his marriage proposal, but it’s her mixed-up, rebellious heart he’s determined to claim.


  1. Love the idea. Reminds me of that old TV series Here Come the Brides.

  2. Thank you Cynthia for your article. My favorite genres are contemporary romance and western historical romance. I especially love the mail order trope. I bought Books 1 and 3 in Kindle. I also bought book 1 in audio. When do you think Mail Order Mayhem and Mail Order Mix Up will be available in audio?

  3. Cynthia, I like the idea of setting your series in WA for it is so seldom featured. Mail order brides stories are often compelling tales and yours promises to fulfill that pattern.
    PS My grandson's name is ASA...a throwback to earlier times!

  4. There once was a TV series in the 1960's based on the mail order brides in Seattle. It is a wonderful bit of history for a story premise. I wish you all the best.


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