This Ad Of A Man Looking For A Wife In 1865 Is Everything: “I Have A Good Set Of Teeth”

12:39 cherishe 0 Comments

If you think dating now is hard, try looking for love as a single dude in the 1860s.

In a time without Tinder or cool, fun singles bars to hit up for a potential partner, really desperate singles had to resort to taking out an ad in the newspaper.

Yep, that's right. They literally had to pay to make a concrete announcement of their singlehood in the freaking town newspaper. Social suicide.

Just recently, Max Roser, a researcher at Oxford University, posted a photo of an ad posted by a man looking for a wife back in 1865.

Read along and REJOICE at this desperate weirdo's personal ad:

If reading it on the tweet was a little difficult, don't worry. I've got the ridiculous ad written out here for you:


A young man in Aroostook County, Maine, advertising for a wife, speaks of himself as follows: ‘I am eighteen years old, have a good set of teeth, and believe in Andy Johnson, the star-spangled banner, and the 4th of July.  I have taken up a State lot, cleared up eighteen acres last year, and seeded ten of it down. My buckwheat looks first-rate, and the oats and potatoes are bully. I have got nine sheep, a two-year-old bull, and two heifers, besides a house and barn. I want to get married. I want to buy bread-and-butter, hoop-skirts, and waterfalls for some person of the female persuasion during life. That's what's the matter with me. But I don't know how to do it.'

Needless to say, I have lots of thoughts here.

First of all, he has a good set of teeth?

I mean, HOW bad were teeth in the 1860s that people literally had to note “good set of teeth” (as an 18 year old!) as a selling point?!

Honestly, when you think about it, I'm guessing they didn't have braces back then, so having naturally straight teeth was probably a pretty freaking dope accomplishment.

OR was everything else about him physically so bad that he just had to highlight the one semi-good thing he had going for him: his teeth?

I guess we'll never know.

Is loving the national anthem and believing in Andy Johnson the 1865 equivalent of dipping Skull and referring to America as ‘murica?

Is he that guy?

Also, WTF are these hoop skirts he's trying to get the ladies?

Apparently, my research shows they're those big, poofy, uncomfortable, skirts women had to wear with a metal rings underneath them to keep them away from their legs.

They end up looking like this:

Women's fashions from 'Godey's Lady's Book' ca 1860.


And this winner was trying to buy some lucky girl one!

Also, what's a “heifer”?

According to Google, that's a female cow.

It looks like there was no shortage of milk on this dude's farm!

Finally, is this ad even real?

A group of people on Reddit tried to get to the bottom of the most pressing question of them all: Is this even a real?

One Reddit user did a deep dive in order to find out whether or not the clip is real and, furthermore, whether or not the story is real:

Okay, I broke this into two parts:

  1. Is the Newspaper clipping real? Was that clip ever published in the 1860s or is it a more recent fake/novelty?
  2. Is the story true? Assuming the clip is real, what information can we find out about the man and can we find him/verify the story?

Part 1. Is the clip real?

I did a search on the phrase "I have taken up a state lot" to see if I could find a source for the article, and it came back with 12 matches.

Note: This is not an exhaustive historical search, but it's a good cross-section of newspapers from various eras.

  • The story was printed in newspapers in Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, and Louisiana, and certainly others.
  • 9 of 12 were printed between July 1865 and October 1865.
  • The remaining 3 were in May, Aug and Sept 1867.
  • The first paper to publish the story in the results was the The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, Wheeling, West Virginia on 27 July 1865. They published the following introduction to the text that you posted:

A fellow in Aroostook county, Me., answered a New York advertisement, representing that he could furnish any person with a wife. The advertiser replied, directing the writer to a neighboring asylum for idiots. The same youth, not at all abashed, whose name is John Morris, speaks of himself as follows: I am eighteen years old…

There are several variations on that introduction published in various papers all citing the young man's name as John Morris. Some other introductions to the article were more brief

Marriagable young ladies should read and ponder upon the following: A young man in Aroostook…

The last two papers to publish were both in Pennsylvania, in August and September 1867 — a full two years after the first of the results. They both ran the same article which cites that it "recently appeared in a Western paper…"

Where does this leave us?

The clip does appear to be real — but that doesn't mean the story is real…let's keep going.

Part 2. Is the story real?

Okay, let's assume for a moment that John Morris is real and he went searching for a wife. Let's try to figure out who he was or if he actually existed.

Like /u/ZhouLe wrote, since John Morris mentions "Andy Johnson" — a reference to Andrew Johnson, Abraham Lincoln's Vice President, who became President on 15 Apr 1865 — we can assume the letter was written after that date.

Since the earliest publishing I could find that printed the clipping was in July 1865, we can assume that this event happened sometime before then — so the letter was written sometime between April and July 1865.

Given that information:

  • If he's 18, he would have been born in 1846 or 1847.
  • In 1865 he's living in Aroostook County, ME.
  • His name is John Morris.

We don't know where he was born, or where he moved from, so let's look at the 1870 census in Aroostook county, to see if we can find a 24 or 25 year old John Morris.

Hmm. I don't see anyone named John Morris, but I do see a John Morrison who is:

  • Living in Linneus, Aroostook County, Maine
  • 23 (right age!)
  • Head of household (eg. not living with parents. After all, he settled the land)
  • Can read & write (who would have written the letter?)
  • Married with three children.

Certainly a contender worth more research, but this all I can do today.

Okay, so where does this leave us?

The clip appears to be "real" — as in it was published in various newspapers in the 1860s. The story could be real, but more research would have to be done to find out. Like an early version of r/FwdsFromGrandma, newspapers would often run funny stories, whether or not they were true. So, I'm hesitant to say that the underlying story is true, but the clipping appears to be real and John Morrison of Aroostook County is worthy of further research.

Hope you enjoyed the journey!


If you were too bored to read that whole thing let me give you a brief summary: The clip is probably real, and the story is could be real, but of course, we can't know for sure. This whole thing could be a sham.

Anyway, the point here really is THANK GOD we aren't living in the 1800s. Even in the age of Tinder and ghosting, our love lives are far better off than having to post a desperate ad in the newspaper bragging about your teeth.

Subscribe to Elite Daily's official newsletter, The Edge, for more stories you don't want to miss.

This Ad Of A Man Looking For A Wife In 1865 Is Everything: “I Have A Good Set Of Teeth”

Credit: Dating – Elite Daily