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 Frances Mary “Fanny” <I>Wakefield</I> Getsman

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Frances Mary “Fanny” Wakefield Getsman

  • Birth 9 Dec 1872 Pepin County, Wisconsin, USA
  • Death 19 Aug 1934 Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, USA
  • Burial Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, USA
  • Plot Section 13 Tier 399 Space 23
  • Memorial ID 120348935

My great, grand-aunt ...

Frances was born in Pepin County, Wisconsin to Samuel and Mary Jane Wakefield. They had a farm in Pepin County, and Samuel was also a local businessman. Frances grew up with seven siblings. Later in her life, she would be known as the first woman in history to have received over a thousand marriage proposals!

On November 24, 1892, Frances married George H. Livingston (Pepin County, WI). They resided in Frankfort (Pepin Co) with their five children. Moving to Boyd, Wisconsin, they lived in a small log cabin. The property also contained a log barn with two or three acres of cultivated land, which George farmed, plus about 85 acres of land. George died November 3, 1906. Anna (daughter) was living in Colburn at the time, keeping house for a farmer. The four boys were committed to the State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children at Sparta, Wisconsin on March 3, 1908.
(Probate of George H. Livingston; Letters of Frances Livingston to State School at Sparta)

On October 6, 1908, Frances walked into the Eau Claire Leader newspaper office and entered the following advertisement for publication:
“HUSBAND WANTED – Wanted by a young woman of 36 years, good, strong, healthy and good looking. Farmer preferred. I own 80 acres of land in the town of Colburn, Chippewa County, also money in Boyd bank, no trifler need apply. Address Frances Livingston, care of Leader office.”
(Eau Claire Leaders, 10/06/1908)

Associated Press got a hold of the story and it circled the globe, even being printed in newspapers in Europe, Canada, China and Japan. “Fanny” (as the press called her) received over 1,000 letters from men with proposals and offers to court her. She became a local celebrity, and numerous articles continued to carry the story and publish some of the redacted letters over the next several months. From the 1,000 suitors, Frances chose Louis Skruvani from Dorchester: a widower with two children and proprietor of a shoe store. They were married on 01/19/1909.

“I have the press to thank for having received so many proposals,” [Frances] said. “When I put my advertisement for a husband in the local paper I really didn’t expect to get more than a dozen names. And I don’t suppose I would had not the papers throughout the world seized upon the advertisement as an item of news. Why, papers not only all over the United States, but in Mexico, Canada, and even Europe became interested in my quest. To them I owe the honor of having been the first woman in history to have received a thousand proposals.”
(Eau Claire Leader, 01/20/1909, reprinted from Chicago Daily Tribune)

One of the most popular costumes women wore to local masquerade balls at the time was to dress as Miss Fanny Livingston!

At the request of Louis, the Eau Claire Leader discontinued its coverage of the story and published the following:
“It will be seen that no further publicity is desired, and the newspapers of the land are respectfully requested to let the matter drop. This will be done as far as the Eau Claire Leader is concerned and no doubt the others will follow. … This will close one of the most remarkable episodes that we ever encountered in all our journalistic career.”

Frances left Louis after being married nearly a month. They both alleged to be writing a book about their experiences, which made reporters continue to pursue them! (Information compiled from various Eau Claire Leader articles, 1908-1909)

Frances and Louis divorced shortly thereafter. Frances married John Getsman and resided with him in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She died at the age of 61 and is buried near her husband, John.

  • Created by: Marie
  • Added: 15 Nov 2013
  • Find A Grave Memorial 120348935
  • Marie
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Frances Mary “Fanny” Wakefield Getsman (9 Dec 1872–19 Aug 1934), Find A Grave Memorial no. 120348935, citing Crystal Lake Cemetery, Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, USA ; Maintained by Marie (contributor 48176682) .