Nellie Wallace is a young widow with two children. In post-Civil War New York, the men are scarce and none want the burden of a wife with children. Her dead husband's family is wealthy, and cruel. Desperate to escape their influence, and eager for a home, a husband, and a stable life for her children, Nellie decides to make a new life in San Francisco as a mail-order bride.
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Annie Markum grew up with a Bible in one hand and a disapproving father holding the other. At 22 she dared to dream of a different life and risked everything to become a mail order bride. One year later she finds herself on a friend's doorstep, penniless, pregnant, and a widow. Her husband was an honorable, churchgoing man, and she believes her father will allow her to come home. To get back to her father in New York will take money she doesn't have. She's got no choice but to accept work as a cook in a local saloon.
Cora Jones has a dilemma. She was engaged to be married but her fiancé Asa Woods was killed in the Civil War. She'd never been madly in love with Asa, but she did care for him deeply and grieved his loss. When she stopped grieving she decided she wanted to put everything behind her and became a mail order bride for Harry Belcher.