Valentine’s Day has long been the day to celebrate romantic love—but, as the Omaha Daily Bee pointed out on April 29, 1882, there’s “Nothing Like a Little Common Sense in Love Matters.” The Bee’s tale of what it termed a “Real Romance,” in which practicality trumped love, concerned “a hard working and respectable mechanic, an iron worker in the U.P. shops,” who lived with his wife and son in South Omaha in a small cottage built on the installment plan. A dry goods clerk boarding with the family contrived to insinuate himself into the good graces of the wife and eventually won “that place in her heart which was due to her husband alone.”
The Bee said: “After a time payments on the house became less easy to meet and at length failed altogether and the honest mechanic was in danger of losing all that he had invested in it and of finding himself without a home in the world. At this stage of the proceedings the clerk, who had contrived to save something out of a very fair salary, offered to the husband to pay off the entire indebtedness on the house and give him a quit claim deed in consideration of his relinquishing all claims upon his wife, and to this the man, driven to despair by his straitened financial condition, consented. The bargain was duly carried out, the title to the house transferred to the U.P. man and the clerk, resigning his position, left the city with the wife of his friend for parts unknown.”
But the story didn’t end there. Find out how the husband and wife were later reunited, allegedly to the satisfaction of all parties, in a Timeline column on the Nebraska State Historical Society website. Read about several earlier marriages in Nebraska Territory in which practical considerations also outweighed romantic love, or at least the outward celebration of it, in a time when brides often baked their own wedding cakes and sewed their own wedding dresses.
— Patricia C. Gaster, Assistant Editor for Research and Publications