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Want Ad


The New Year is a good time to start fresh or to make life changes. Perhaps that's what prompted James Orr to look for companionship.

Orr was a single farmer who had made good use of his time to attain some wealth. But he was lonely. According to newspapers following his story, Orr did not believe that man should live alone, and neither did nature, "nor the recent president of the United States," who at that time was still Theodore Roosevelt.

So, James Orr went about seeking a wife. But how? Where was he to meet an obliging female, one who shared his interests and proclivities?

Well, Orr had heard that a want ad was packed with power, and so he decided to test that theory. He placed this ad in the Minot Daily Optic under the heading "Situation Wanted:"

"Wanted-An American, 45 years of age, farmer, wishes to become acquainted with an intelligent working girl or widow. State whether personal interview may be had in first letter. Address by letter to A. B. Optic."

According to the newspapers, a long list of women sent a multitude of letters, which Orr had to comb through; however, amidst the litany of names, love fell into his hands in the form of a type-written letter sent by a Miss Rena Williams. She was from the area, was accustomed to the land and the climate. The two arranged a meeting, and by this date, the two were acquainted, and in love; they picked up a license to marry on the 6th of January, and on the 7th, the whole ordeal culminated in their marriage, after which they returned to McKenzie County, where Orr had a farm.

The couple achieved this fast but amiable courtship in eight days! The ad had been published on December 31st.

It seems that Orr used the right method to start a new life, just in time for the new year-and also, he proved that there really was a lot of power packed in a want ad.

Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker


Minot Daily Optic, January 6, 1909

Minot Daily Optic, January 7, 1909

Minot Daily Optic, December 31, 1908

1910 Federal Census--ND, McKenzie County