The Real Story Behind The Viral Aroostook County Personals Ad Seeking a Spinster
In my Twitter circle, I have become the token Maine girl. Most people just joke that Maine isn't a real place or that I live in a frozen tundra. I have been tagged left and right in a Maine personals ad from 1865.
Last fall, the article was making the rounds on Reddit.
CHANCE FOR A SPINSTER. -- A young man in Aroostook County, Maine, advertising for a wife, speaks of himself as follows: "I am eighteen years old, have a good set of teeth, and believe in Andy Johnson, the star-spangled banner, and the 4th of July. I have taken up a State lot, cleared up eighteen acres last year, and seeded ten of it down. My buckwheat looks first-rate, and the oats and potatoes are bully. I have got nine sheep, a two-year-old bull, and two heifers, besides a house and barn. I want to get married. I want to buy bread-and-butter, hoop-skirts, and waterfalls for some person of the female persuasion during life. That's what's the matter with me. But I don't know how to do it."
Obviously, I had to know if it was real. I was also concerned that so many of my Twitter followers think I'd make a decent spinster.
After a quick Google search, I stumbled upon Skeptics.StackExchange.com which explained that the newspaper clipping was, in fact, from the year 1865 but it was published as a joke in Harper's Weekly. Harper's Weekly was, according to Wikipedia, a political magazine out of New York City and ceased publication in 1916. There's even an archive where you can see the full page of the publication with the satirical ad here.
A poster on Skeptics.StackExchange also found a similar write-up months before it was published in Harper's Weekly in the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer which, according to the Ohio County Library, was a West Virginian Newspaper first published in 1852. See it for yourself here.
So while there may never have been a real gentleman from Aroostook County seeking a lonely spinster, it's kind of cool to know that folks over 150 years ago were laughing at something we're still laughing at today.