Harvey Girls in Dodge City

Harvey-Girls-blogAfter the trail driving cowboys returned to Texas, the buffalo hunters headed back to the plains and the soldiers returned to Fort Hays Dodge City. At night the liquor still flowed, the piano player played and the dealers dealt the cards but during the day school bells church bells rang and ordinary people went about their business of making a living.

A visiting reporter from Kokomo, Indiana noted during a visit in the summer of 1878 “I was happily surprised to find the place in the daytime as orderly as a country village in Indiana.”

The main problem Dodge City was a shortage of good women. Young men in search of a bride found the competition fierce. In 1875 males outnumbered females six to one. That did change over the next decade as the men headed east in search of a bride or families raised daughters who eventually reached a marriageable age. It also helped considerably when Fred Harvey opened one of his famous Harvey Houses at the Santa Fe Railroad station. Harvey specialized in hiring attractive young women as waitresses, paying them $17.50 a month plus room and board. The women had to sign a contract saying they wouldn’t marry for a year but rarely if ever did Harvey let a contract prevent Cupid from doing his thing. Harvey would even host a wedding party for the newlyweds. They used to say the pretty ones received marriage proposals within hours of stepping off the train while the homely ones might take a day or two.

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