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Oct. 11, 1876: Whom not to marry

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History Updated: May 28, 2013 - 3:34 PM
 
If you’re among the growing number of Minnesotans considering a wedding this summer, you may benefit from a bit of marital advice offered in the Minneapolis Tribune. A longer version appeared in the March 1876 issue of Ballou’s Monthly Magazine.
 

Who Not to Marry.

 
In the waiting room at one of the depots in a flourishing western city might have been seen, recently, two women, one young and handsome, the other old and ugly. The various trains rushed in and out; the last passenger train for some hours had departed, but still they sat, these two women.
 
 
  Mr. and Mrs. James Hoffman took the plunge in St. Paul in the late 1870s. (Image courtesy of mnhs.org.)
One remarked to another, until they were chatting quite confidentially. The young woman became communicative, and said her lover was coming in on the midnight train, and that she was going with him to the next station to be married. Whereupon the old lady said she had had much experience in the “marrying business,” and would give the young lady some advice, and here is what she said:
 
“Well, child, never marry a railroader, for he is liable to get killed most any time. Besides, he has such a nice chance to flirt.
 
“Never marry a military man, for he’s liable to go to war and get shot. Besides, his gorgeous clothes attract the attention of women.
 
“Never marry a hotel-keeper. My first husband was a hotel-keeper, and fell through the elevator opening and broke his darned skull. It riles me when I think of that man.
 
“Never marry a traveling man, for he’s always away from hum. Nobody knows what these men are up to when they are away from hum.
 
“Never marry a steamboater. My second husband was a steamboat captain, and got blowed into 4,000,000 pieces, blast him. I always get terrible mad when I think of that man.
 
“Never marry a dry goods man. Dyes in clothes are so injurious. They never live half their days.
 
“Never marry a grocer. They have such dirty hands. My third husband was a grocer, and such hands as he’d have was ‘nuf to sicken a body. He was killed by a molasses barrel fallin’ on him. When I think of him I’m completely disgusted.
 
“Never marry a carpenter. My fourth husband was a carpenter, and fell off a scaffold and was mashed into a jelly. May his soul sleep in peace!
 
“Never marry a machinist. My fifth husband was a machinist. I’ll never forget the day he was brought home on a board. I didn’t recognize him. A belt had come off a pulley and hit him plum in the face, and spread his nose all over his countenance. I promised him on his dyin’ bed that I’d never marry another machinist.”
 
Just then the train rolled in, and the old lady asked:
 
“Child, what business is your lover in?”
 
“Insurance business.”
 
“O, mercy! You don’t mean to marry him! My sixth husband was an insurance –”
 
But the young lady had gone to meet her lover.
 
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