Divorce

"While You Wait" (A Play from The Smart Set, June 1900)

The Smart Set (Cover)MRS. VAN CLEEF—Now, in this divorce business, there seems to be a great rivalry between South Dakota and Oklahoma, but the Oklahoma firm’s circular is a good deal the more enticing. Listen. It says (she reads from a circular which she takes from her pocket): “Our newer States, in compiling their laws, have seen fit to show more liberality in the matter of obtaining divorces than may be found among the older states, whose laws on this subject were enacted at a time when ideas were less in accord with the advanced liberal thought of the present.

“As the Mohammedan devotee confidingly turns his eyes toward the tomb of his beloved leader, so has Dakota been regarded as the Mecca of hope to weary companions in matrimony.”

Isn’t that nice? We’ll be the weary companions.

Helen Churchill Candee - An Introduction

Helen Churchill CandeeHelen started her formal education in one of America’s first kindergartens, then attended several girls’ boarding schools of the sort only available to a certain quality of family – and even then mostly only those in New England. Before she was a teenager she spoke and wrote multiple languages, was schooled in grace and etiquette, and probably knew more history and literature than a majority of adult men in the nation at the time. She was particularly inspired, according to one diary entry, by an event at which Charles Dickens read aloud from one of his works.

How many of you have heard Dickens live? My point exactly.

Rabbit Trails: Criminal Intimacy & Pernicious Polygamy

Role ConfusionI’ve been trying to follow up on a previous post about the “divorce industry” in Oklahoma Territory (1889 – 1907), but I keep getting sidetracked by odd search results and unexpectedly engaging-but-off-topic tangents. I’m finally admitting that my ADHD (Abstemiously Distracted History Dysfunction) has won, and figure I might as well share some of the results.

Rabbit Trails: Mary Sallade & The One-Eyed Pickpocket

George AppoI’ve been looking into the “divorce industry” in Oklahoma Territory (1889 – 1907), and I spend more time than seems reasonable searching online newspaper archives for terms like “divorce” or “Oklahoma.” I’m not sure this makes me a crack researcher, but it has certainly led me down some weird paths.

Pick any topic – ANY topic – and start scratching at it. Something fascinating will almost always unfold… and yet leave you with a congress of unknowns, smirking and smug like Alice’s cat.

Nuptial Benedictions (The Divorce Industry in Oklahoma Territory)

Walking Away

Between the first “land run” opening up the “Unassigned Lands” of Indian Territory in 1889 and statehood in 1907, Oklahoma filled up rapidly. 

There were a variety of reasons, of course. The “frontier” was rapidly closing and Oklahoma Territory was the last hope of true homesteading on the continent. Early reports suggested fertile soil and cooperative climate – descriptions which would later be recalled in wry reflection by those who'd embraced them. Then there was the sheer newness and unpredictability of it all – in a nation built on restlessness and possibilities, that alone was sometimes enough.

Oh – and of course, it was a great place to get a divorce.

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