One of the earliest entrepreneurs in the Washington Territory was Asa Mercer. He recognized that there was a need that he could fill and make a tidy profit in the bargain. In the East, more than 360,000 people lost their lives during the Civil War, leaving behind numerous widows and orphans. In the West, there were many men of all ages who wanted wives and families. Mercer devised a way to collect fees from both by assuring perfect match-ups for all parties.
The bachelors responded to an advertisement for a wife; $300 would secure a “bride of good reputation and moral character.” The wome