Leap Year Customs

A partial list of Lincoln’s most marriageable men was published by the Nebraska State Journal in 1888 in honor of the old leap day (February 29) custom of women proposing marriage to men. The Lincoln City Guide, compiled by the Federal Writers’ Project and published in 1930, noted some of those mentioned:

“Dawes, C. G., attorney at law and anti-monopoly agitator, age 24, weight 135, height medium, dark hair and the neatest mustache in Lincoln: is rapidly rising in his profession; seems to have a disposition to go back to see somebody in Ohio occasionally but is worth trying anyway. . . .

“Frost, A. L., law student; age 26, height 5 feet 10 inches, weight 140; complection light; sandy mustache just in sight, fond of children; quite a student of literature and unusually brilliant in conversation; has money and will make a good husband; is worth a good effort.

“Hardy, W. E., furniture dealer, age 26, height 5 ft. 8 in., weight 160; light complection and smooth face; light-hearted and sunny, quite a favorite among the ladies, quite a society man, but would prefer a girl with domestic tastes, uses neither liquor nor tobacco; in matter of dress quite strict, appearing in white gloves on all occasions.

“Tibbits, A. S., attorney, 32 years old, brick red hair and mustache, 6 ft. tall and weighs 135 pounds; is quite well off and has no bad habits; is suspected of having a violent temper owing to the color of his hair; but the suspicion may be groundless.

“Zehrung, Frank C., druggist and capitalist, age 29; height a trifle short of 6 ft.; fighting weight has never been ascertained; brown hair, sharp blue eyes, young amber beard under excellent control; the oldest consecutive member of the Pleasant Hour Club; . . . the leader of Lincoln society, and without a rival; is handsome, features being constructed after plans and specifications drawn by Michael Angelo; has smashed 14 hearts in the last 15 years; if taken at all it will be after a desperate struggle; when captured will make an excellent husband; of a loving disposition and refined tastes; only fault is an unfortunate passion for baseball; the last on the list, but by no means the least.”

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