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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Cruising for Women at Castle Garden

Despite the superintendent's insistence that the immigration station at Castle Garden had "no matrimonial bureau," men still showed up looking for prospective wives. Daniel F. Shugrue appeared there in August 1884 and asked for a bride.

He was directed to the Labor Bureau, but did not find any female immigrant there who suited him, although he waited patiently in the building from 11 o'clock until 4:30 in the afternoon. Mrs. Boyle, the Matron, tried to cheer him up in the meantime by encouraging remarks, but found this a somewhat difficult task, owing to the fact that Mr. Shugrue is somewhat deaf.

While Mrs. Boyle was offering words of consolation an old man with gray hair entered. "Have you found me a wife yet, Mrs. Boyle?" This man has been calling at Castle Garden with matrimonial intents for the past four years, and has had his hopes dashed at every visit. He is not easily discouraged, however. His name is Michael Martin and he says that he has a good farm near Trenton. He is a widower and has several children. Yesterday the old man unbosomed himself to a reporter. "It's kind of discouraging, you see," he said, "but I'm going to keep at it. There's too much life in me to give it up so quick. The girls I find here don't always suit, and those that do suit don't take to me somehow, 'though I'm only 52 years old. Up on Sixth-avenue there's an intelligence office where they'll find you a wife, but you have to get in with them before they'll do anything for you. I've been trying to get in with them the last two years, and I hope to succeed before I'm two years older. Oh, I ain't going to give up trying."
[The New York Times, Aug. 27, 1884]

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