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The Bachelors of Mt. Carmel

Ladies, if none of these chaps suits your fancy, well, I’ve got seven more for you.

It was December 1916, just about the end of a leap year, in the rural Cavalier County community of Mt. Carmel. A local wag decided to offer some free advice to single ladies of the community who might wish to exercise the waning prerogative of the leap year and latch onto a likely bachelor.

So the thoughtful one, identity unknown, penned an extended poem of twelve stanzas--one introductory, one conclusive, and ten stanzas each extolling the virtues of some named single chap as a marriage prospect. This catalog in verse the author gave to the editor of the Langdon Courier Democrat to publish on 21 December. “The men are bashful but not cold,” we read, and so the girls are urged to “Get busy with the bashful men / And do it before the year is out.”

Doubtless the women of Mt. Carmel were fully aware of the available prospects, but we are not—and yet we can discover quite a bit about them by doing a quick search of digitized local newspapers. Moreover, most all of the cataloged bachelors were of age eligible for the military, which means they had filled out registration cards for selective service, disclosing physical attributes and other personal details.

Mt. Carmel, I should say, was a distinctive community, largely settled by German immigrants from Ontario or Manitoba and centered on Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church. Now, a few of the bachelors.

There’s Joe Illerbrun, both tall and true
Would make a splendid catch
Just now he’s feeling rather blue
For fear he’ll be a batch

Here’s a farm boy for you - son of a farmer who came out from Ontario in 1899, took over a relinquishment, and farmed it successfully — won a district prize for his corn in 1907, but now has passed away. Young Joe (twenty-two years old) is indeed tall, but also stout, his draft card says, and he has requested a deferment to stay home and take care of his mother. So, there might be mother-in-law factors to consider.

And Johnny Fischer, he needs a Frau
To love and disobey
Why not propose and do it now
You’ll not regret the day

Johnny seems like a great catch, son of another successful immigrant farmer, among the first homesteaders in the district, and John Jr. himself is known for his impressive wheat crops. He’s been traveling to South Texas lately to look at land investments in the valley of the Rio Grande — we may wonder if he will make a homebody, although he’s requested a deferment to run the farm. He’s been seeing a doctor for his poor eyesight, so if you’re interested, you may be wasting your time on make-up. Talk to Johnny about land instead.

There’s George Schuler, he’s a man
Who does not drink or chew
He’ll make you happy if you can
If you can cook and stew

George is quite the man about the district, likes to invite his bachelor buddies over for oyster feeds and such. He’s always had good transport for squiring young ladies about, first a smart buggy, and now a classy Ford touring car. He doesn’t have the constitution for farming, has had a bout with pneumonia, and his heart is suspect, so he took a commercial course and is working in a bank. He sounds like fun, though, so maybe give him a try — but before making a life leap, better check on his life insurance.

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