On This Date In History: Asa Mercer was already the president of Washington Territory’s first university by the time he was in his mid twenties. The Pacific Northwest had great natural resources attracting miners and lumbermen from around the nation. But…there was a scarcity of women. Mercer decided to fix that by placing an ad in a Seattle newspaper promising to find a wife for every man who paid $300 toward bringing a woman from the East. A New York magazine hailed Mercer as a modern day Moses. Skeptics suggested that the women would have nothing to do and their trade would be something less than honorable. Mercer assured that the ladies would be employed as schoolmistresses and nothing more. Those same skeptics wondered how they could all be school teachers if there were no children to teach.
Nevetheless, Mercer sailed a ship from Seattle and found he had some 300 adventurous ladies willing to take the trip. They were known as “Mercer Girls.” However, by the time he was to set sail from New England, in January 1866, the number of volunteers had fallen to 100. I guess they had second thoughts. Those on board became even more fickle when they began romancing with the ships’s crew. When they stopped in Chile, many became enamoured with the military officer’s stationed at Lota, Chile. Apparently, one of Mercer’s ladies rode a spirited pony to the delight of onlookers such that 17 proposed marriage. So, now Mercer had to deal with women who didn’t want to leave the crew and others who didn’t want to leave their Chilean suitors. So, he set sail at night and secretly stole away…to keep his cargo from getting stolen away. When they got to San Francisco, he lost 11 who got off and never returned.
On This Date in 1866, Asa Mercer arrived in Seattle with what was left of his precious cargo. Many of the subscribers who had paid $300 were chagrined when they found out that their payment didn’t guarantee a woman. One man was quite upset when the specific woman whom he had asked for showed up and turned out to be a different woman by the same name. Undeterred, the man said, “All I want is a wife, and if you are willin’ I would as soon take you as the other woman.” Such romantic overtones went unheeded as the woman replied simply, “I do not wish to marry, sir.”
It wasn’t a total disaster for the operation or for Asa Mercer. Annie Stephens from Baltimore was one of the first to be married. Her husband? Asa Mercer.
This little tale was no doubt the inspiration for the late 1960′s TV show, Here Come the Brides. The photo above is of the Bolt brothers, Jeremy, Joshua and Jason as well as Candy, a girl with whom Jeremy was smitten. Jeremy was played by Bobby Sherman, who was a teen idol. His acting career went no where and after watching the tv show, you might find out why. He tried his hand at singing and that too went nowhere. Joshua was played by David Soul who later was one of the rogue young cops in Magnum Force. I think Clint helped him exit the movie violently. Later he gained fame for his role in Starsky and Hutch. He capitalized on that fame by singing a stupid song that was in the top 40. Jason Bolt was played by Robert Brown who was an accomplished stage actor. He is known perhaps more by his role in a Star Trek episode in which he played a guy named Lazarus. I think that was the last we saw of him. Jason Bolt was the oldest of the Bolt brothers and he sorta takes the place of Mercer because, in the series, it was Jason Bolt who had the ladies come to Seattle. Maybe Brown got the Star Trek gig by way of Mark Lenard, who plays Sarek in the 23rd century but was Aaron Stemple in Seattle in the 19th Century. I have no idea who Candy was nor what happened to her.
I want to know what happened to Captain Clancy. He was played by actor Henry Beckman and he was a ship captain who always had his eye on the barmaid, Lottie. Lottie was played by Joan Blondell who had a long career well before the tv show and was considered a “Hollywood siren” in her youth. It seems to me that aside from Lenard and Soul, Here Come the Brides was the graveyard for actors though it was a pretty accurate show because, like the Asa Mercer story, it didn’t seem there were too many marriages.
(Snow White thinks I am too hard on Bobby Sherman in this…I told you he was a teen idol)
Weather Bottom Line: While rain chances may be a little higher for the isolaed variety on Sunday, I”m not really all that enthused about the prospects. Monday we do not have a cold front per se but it does appear that a little weakness in the atmosphere sets up over us with my conspire with afternoon heating to create scattered storms. There is not much of a severe threat but individual storms may have the potential to drop a fair amount of rain. Afternoon and early evening will be the best chance for any activity to mess up your Memorial Day plans. I would think that there will be no problem for Memorial Day services at Cave Hill Cemetery at 11 AM and most likely it will be fine at Zachary Taylor Cemetery at 2 PM. On Wednesday, a front will be moving in a zonal pattern across the north central plains. Due to the zonal pattern, I suspect that the best chance for strong storms on Thursday will be to our north but we’ll have to see how it shakes out.