Running for a Bride: 1888


We read of the desperate struggles of to-day’s Olympic athletes to win that coveted gold medal, worth, in US dollars, $564.00—quite a paltry reward when one considers these foot-race competitors who ran for a bride worth $100,000.


Miss Douglass Will Wed the Man Who Wins the Foot Race.

Nashville, Tenn., Jan. 29 Miss Annie Douglass, a graduate of Vanderbilt University, who is known throughout Tennessee as “The Oil Queen,” because of her large possessions of oil property in Spring Creek district, is to be married next Thursday night to the winner of a foot race. Miss Douglass is an orphan, residing with her grandfather, James Douglass, proprietor of the noted “Calf Killer Farm.”‘ Nathan Overman, a neighbour, was a suitor for the hand of Miss Douglass, and he had no opposition until two years ago, when John Lane, of Indiana, a cousin of Mrs. Hendrick’s came to the neighbourhood. A rivalry for the hand of the young lady became intense and bloodshed was feared. Mr. Douglass, who had no preference between the young men, decided to end the matter, and being an eccentric man, hit upon a novel plan.

He got the three interested persons together and proposed that, as the lady herself could not decide between the men, that they run a race of eight miles on parallel roads, the winner to marry the girl before night. All agreed and promised to faithfully abide the result.

At 8 o’clock next Thursday morning the men will start, and on their return they will have a banquet, which will be followed by the marriage. The whole country is aroused, and thousands will see the race. All the persons concerned are well-to-do and well educated. Miss Douglass is worth $100,000.

The Sun [New York, NY] 30 January 1888: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Much as Mrs Daffodil wishes this story were true, she can find no trace of the actual participants, nor of the noted “Calf Killer Farm.” The story was told and retold, as late as the early 1890s with trifling variations such as Miss Douglass’s father being the race-proposer. To Mrs Daffodil’s disappointment, despite the wide syndication of this diverting anecdote, no one recorded the result of the race and the name of the happy, if breathless bridegroom. The inventive journalist who, one fears, paltered just the teensiest bit with the truth, was perhaps sacked before he could file the sequel.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.



2 thoughts on “Running for a Bride: 1888

  1. notfromTN

    There is a Calfkiller River in TN, so there probably was at least one Calfkiller Farm, and to the enterprising journalist, it probably sounded like a good name to use for such an interesting story.


    1. chriswoodyard Post author

      That is a very plausible theory, indeed! If only Mrs Daffodil could locate the principal characters, she would rest easier. Many thanks for writing!
      Best wishes,
      Mrs Daffodil



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