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An Irish Leap Year tradition — in Monroe
This street view of one of the Shriner Brothers being pulled by their white horse may be the older brother, Charles, who was one of the edible bachelors of Monroe published by the Monroe Sun on January 30, 1892. If anyone can recognize where this photo was taken, please let me know.

Each leap year, according to an old Irish tradition, women could to propose to men on Leap Day, February 29. In 1892 George R. South, editor of the Monroe Sun, stated that the “spirit” had moved him to present a list of the eligible bachelors of the city who are “dead ripe for the (h)alter and who would have long since have followed the example set by the gay old beaux who have taken the fatal step, but who unfortunately, are too timid to propose and ‘pop the question.’ We have entertained this idea for some time of giving the girls a chance but have put off publishing the names of those who would make good husbands and so-forth. But this being leap year, when the conventionalities of society give the ladies the right and privilege to ‘pop’ themselves, thus relieving their sighing adorers of an immense load of anxiety and uncertainty, we embrace the opportunity to carry out our ‘good’ intentions.” 

“Charley Bradshaw, the well-known dry-goods man, has been single about long enough and, some lady of mature years and judgement ought to take him in tow. Bachelors of his time of life are apt to be bashful, but only need a little of the encouragement that bissextile gives the fair sex the power to give to become most exemplary married men. Now he is exposed to the temptations of cinch, whist and numerous other snares ‘society’ constantly spreads for the feet of young men.“J. C. Salley possesses all the characteristics of a first-class husband, but somehow he does not seem to catch on, although uniformly the most courteous and agreeable of gentlemen when in the company of the fair sex.  The girl who got John would get a husband worth having, for a man who is good to his mother makes the best kind of fellow to tie to.

“The girl who wants a husband with what a jockey would call ‘style, elegance and speed,’ should ‘set her cap’ for Grant Weber. He is a young man of fine acquirements, especially in music, and has plenty of ‘expectations’ from the parental estate. A word in your ear girls: Lawn tennis is his weak spot.

“James Carroll and his brother Ed need wives to help spend the fortune they are accumulating and ought to allow no more precious time to go to waste. They are both jolly good square boys, and Monroe of the future will need more like them.” These men with their brother, Henry, operated Carroll Bros., which sold groceries, crockery, coal, wood, oils, and more. There is a photo of the exterior of their business on page 77 in A Glimpse Back in Time and the interior on page 57 in the Pictorial History of Monroe. 

“Mike Gettings is well educated, generous and gentlemanly, and big enough to protect a girl from the storms of life. It’s about time for Mike to begin to think seriously of settling down to domestic cares, and the girl who gets him will draw a prize indeed.

“Charley Shriner is a young man of many “good points,” who ought to have a wife to sit beside him when he speeds his white team. Just at present he is not particularly engaged, but some good girl ought to gather him under her wing.

“Andrew Hardy, J. H. Miller’s head salesman, ist good looking and amiable and would be a mos desirable ornament for a lady’s boudoir. Don’t permit him to ‘never tell his love’ girls — make him out with it and gather him in.

“Ed. Ludlow is the son of the well-known banker, and is supposed to be most solidly ‘fixed’ besides having ‘great expectations’ is an heir to immense wealth. The young man wears glasses, but as he is a boy who emphatically ‘has the rocks’ and can therefore wear diamonds, that would be no serious drawback.

“There’s Ben Treat; he is too bright and good-looking to waste his life in wandering alone when there are so many handsome girls to choose from. He is young yet, to be sure, to think of settling down to domestic cares, but the girl who gets him will draw a prize.

“Clarendon Bennett would make a fair average husband for the right kind of a girl. Hitherto, like the wanton bee, he has sipped honey here and their rosebud lips, but his friends think that it is now time he should quit such youthful vanities.” Clarendon, a first cousin of my Great-Grandfather Grant, had a failed clothing business in 1891 and had moved to Milwaukee by April 1892. He did marry in 1901 and lived in Racine until his death in 1936. 

“Miles Gettings, a bold type-slinger, is a boy of steady habits of whom a wife might be proud, and it is now time some nice girl took him in charge. He is modest and bashful girls, but can be easily cured.

“Louis Hodges, in addition to holding a good sit, will inherit wealth. He wears glasses and ‘rides the wheel’ beautifully. He is hardly old enough to belong to bachelorhood, but the sooner some fair damsel settles him comfortably in life the better for all concerned.

“Among the eligible bachelors, who should be made to see the error of their ways, to neglect to mention Wm. Night would be a misdeal indeed. ‘Billy’ is good-looking, steady and virtuous. There is no excuse for his pretending he can’t get a life partner ‘well-willed’ and so clever a young fellow should no longer be allowed to caper free and unfettered in the merry green fields of life.

“Ed. Eley would make a good husband and should tarry no longer by the wayside with no one to love, Etc. Some maiden fair, who has got over desiring a fearless youth with the dew of innocence on his lip, should lead him to the alter.”

Information about more men from these articles will be shared next week.

— Matt Figi is a Monroe resident and a local historian. His column will appear periodically on Saturdays in the Times. He can be reached at or at 608-325-6503.