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c.1884 Kansas Fixer Upper Under Reduced to Under $28K ~ Off Market
March 25, 2020
204 S Grant St, Enterprise, KS 67441
$29,900Reduced to $27,900 ~ Off Market
This c.1884 fixer upper has a great little story behind it. Apparently it was built by a bachelor to entice a bride to move to Enterprise, Kansas (pop. 855). The town was named for the enterprising nature of its first settlers, and the Enterprise Town Company was organized only a year before the bachelor constructed this house.
After the Civil War, it was estimated that there were 30,000 single women and young widows back East. This, and the multitude of bachelors in the Plains states, made for newspapers from Nebraska to Kansas to begin running “matrimonial columns” of paid ads, often with accompanying photographs. Our bachelor may have written something like this actual 1880’s ad, “A Bachelor of 40, good appearance and substantial means, wants a wife. She must be under 30, amiable, and musical.”
In Kansas, and across the Plains, a cottage industry of “heart and hand” catalogs, folded double sheets of eligible bachelors, arose devoted entirely to enticing matrimonial prospects. Sometimes the women were conned, as in Eleanor Berry’s story, a schoolmarm who advertised for a “wealthy, average-looking guy who wanted to settle down.” Eleanor took a stagecoach to meet her suitor but was robbed by bandits along the route. She noticed that one of the hoodlums had a long, jagged scar on his hand. When the stagecoach finally reached its destination, imagine her horror when who came to meet her, but the man with the jagged scar. She immediately went back home.
Let’s hope that our Kansas bachelor had better luck, like that of 1880’s couple William Silbaugh and Phoebe Harrington. After placing an ad, they met, married an hour after the meeting and enjoyed 47 years of marriage and seven children.