On April 30, 1849, Sarah Bayliss Royce, along with her husband, Josiah, and their daughter, Mary, left her home in Tipton, Iowa, and headed for California in a covered wagon. Along the way, she kept a diary which, nearly thirty years later, served as the basis for a memoir she titled Across the Plains. That book has been freshly transcribed by Jennifer Dawes Adkison from Royce’s original handwritten document, and this new edition is faithful to the original, restoring several passages that were omitted from the previous edition.
In a new introduction Adkison reveals Across the Plains to be far more than a simple narrative of one pioneer woman’s journey west. She explains that Royce wrote the book at the request of her son, Josiah Royce, a well-known professor of philosophy at Harvard University with motives of his own. She crafted the narrative that her son wanted: an argument for spiritual faith and fortitude as foundational to California’s history. Yet the narrative itself, in addition to offering a window into a world that has long lacked close documentation, gives us the opportunity to study the ways in which nineteenth-century western women asserted this primacy of faith and crafted their experience into stories with larger cultural and social resonance.
Scholars have long used Across the Plains to mold and support an iconic image of the resolute pioneer woman. However, until now no one has considered Royce’s own self-conscious creation of this persona. Readers will discover that in many ways, Sarah Royce’s careful construction of this cultural portrait deepens our respect for her and our delight in her travels, travails, and triumphs.
In July 1909 twenty-one-year-old Elizabeth Corey left her Iowa farm to stake her claim to a South Dakota homestead. Over the next ten years, as she continued her schoolteaching career and carved out a home for herself in this inhospitable territory, she sent a steady stream of letters to her family back in Iowa. From the edge of modern America, Bess wrote long, gossipy accounts—"our own continuing adventure story," according to her brother Paul—of frontier life on the high plains west of the Missouri River. Irrepressible, independent-minded, and evidently fearless, the self-styled Bachelor Bess gives us a firsthand, almost daily account of her homesteading adventures. We can all stake a claim in her energetic letters.
The Bassett Women
Grace McClure Ohio University Press, 1985 Library of Congress F781.B37M33 1985 | Dewey Decimal 978.8
In the late nineteenth century, Brown’s Park, a secluded valley astride the Utah-Colorado border, was a troubled land of deadly conflict among cattle barons, outlaws, rustlers, and small ranchers. Homesteader Elizabeth Bassett gained a tough reputation of her own, and her daughters followed suit, going on to become members of Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch’s inner circle. Ann—who counted Cassidy among her lovers—became known as “queen of the cattle rustlers.” Both sisters proved themselves shrewd businesswomen as they fended off hostile takeovers of the family ranch. Through the following decades, the sisters became the stuff of legend, women who embodied the West’s fearsome reputation, yet whose lived experiences were far more nuanced. Ann became a writer. Josie, whose cabin still stands at present-day Dinosaur National Monument, applied her pioneer ethics to a mechanized world and became renowned for her resourcefulness, steadfastness, and audacity.
For The Bassett Women, Grace McClure tracked down and untangled the legends of Brown’s Park, one of the way stations of the fabled “Outlaw Trail,” while creating an evenhanded and indelible portrait of the Bassetts. Based on interviews, written records, newspapers, and archives, The Bassett Women is one of the few credible accounts of early settlers on Colorado’s western slope, one of the last strongholds of the Old West.
Although generations of readers of the Little House books are familiar with Laura Ingalls Wilder’s early life up through her first years of marriage to Almanzo Wilder, few know about her adult years. Going beyond previous studies, Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder focuses upon Wilder’s years in Missouri from 1894 to 1957. Utilizing her unpublished autobiography, letters, newspaper stories, and other documentary evidence, John E. Miller fills the gaps in Wilder’s autobiographical novels and describes her sixty-three years of living in Mansfield, Missouri. As a result, the process of personal development that culminated in Wilder’s writing of the novels that secured her reputation as one of America’s most popular children’s authors becomes evident.
While there are many accessible biographies of important Missouri men, there are few such biographies of Missouri women, which might suggest that they did not count in history. This book, written by a mother-and-daughter team, helps to correct that misconception by tracing the lives of four women who played important roles in their eras. These women were exceptional because they had the courage to make the best of their abilities, forging trails and breaking the barriers that separated women’s spheres from those of men:
· A Native American woman the French newspapers called “Ignon Ouaconisen,” and the people of Paris called the “Missouri princess,” lived from about 1700 to after 1751. She traveled with adventurer Etienne de Bourgmont and bore his child. Although much of her life remains a mystery, her story gives us insights into the lives of Missouri Indian women in the days of the fur trade.
· Pioneer Olive Boone (1783–1858) came to the Louisiana Territory as the teenage bride of Nathan Boone, guiding a skiff and their horses across the Missouri River to join the Daniel Boone family near St. Charles. For much of her married life, she stayed alone with her fourteen children while her husband traveled on lengthy hunting expeditions, supervised the Boone saltworks in present-day Howard County, and spent years in the military.
· Martha Jane Chisley, born a slave in 1833, was brought to northeast Missouri as a young woman. During the Civil War, Martha Jane escaped with her children to Illinois. She overcame many obstacles so that her son Augustine was able to enter school and get an education. Augustine studied in Rome and became the first nationally known African American priest.
· Nell Donnelly of Kansas City was a pioneering businesswoman who founded a dress company that became the world’s largest, brightening the wardrobe of the “housewife” while also creating fair working conditions for her employees. Born into an ordinary middle-class family in 1889, she achieved a success and high profile that brought its own problems.
Using Missouri and Illinois archives, Margot Ford McMillen and Heather Roberson have compiled well-known and obscure materials to describe the lives of both women and men, showing how roles changed as Missouri and America matured. Bringing together family insights and the rare writings of observers who almost never mention women in their journals, Called to Courage will be welcomed by anyone interested in women’s history or Missouri history.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman Duke University Press, 2003 Library of Congress PS1744.G57C78 2003 | Dewey Decimal 813.4
Long out of print, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s novel The Crux is an important early feminist work that brings to the fore complicated issues of gender, citizenship, eugenics, and frontier nationalism. First published serially in the feminist journal The Forerunner in 1910, The Crux tells the story of a group of New England women who move west to start a boardinghouse for men in Colorado. The innocent central character, Vivian Lane, falls in love with Morton Elder, who has both gonorrhea and syphilis. The concern of the novel is not so much that Vivian will catch syphilis, but that, if she were to marry and have children with Morton, she would harm the "national stock." The novel was written, in Gilman’s words, as a "story . . . for young women to read . . . in order that they may protect themselves and their children to come." What was to be protected was the civic imperative to produce "pureblooded" citizens for a utopian ideal.
Dana Seitler’s introduction provides historical context, revealing The Crux as an allegory for social and political anxieties—including the rampant insecurities over contagion and disease—in the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century. Seitler highlights the importance of The Crux to understandings of Gilman’s body of work specifically and early feminism more generally. She shows how the novel complicates critical history by illustrating the biological argument undergirding Gilman’s feminism. Indeed, The Crux demonstrates how popular conceptions of eugenic science were attractive to feminist authors and intellectuals because they suggested that ideologies of national progress and U.S. expansionism depended as much on women and motherhood as on masculine contest.
In the 1800s, American women were largely restricted to the private sphere. Most had no choice but to spend their lives in the home, marrying in their teens and living only as wives, mothers, and pillars of domesticity. Even as the women’s movement came along midcentury, it focused more on gaining legal and political rights for women than on expanding their career opportunities. So in that time period, in which the options and expectations for women’s professional lives were so limited, it is remarkable that three sisters born in the 1850s, the Owen daughters of Missouri, all achieved success and appreciation in their careers.
Doris Land Mueller’s Daring to Be Different tells the story of these exceptional sisters, whose contributions to their chosen fields are still noteworthy today. Mary, the oldest, followed a childhood interest in storytelling to become an internationally recognized folklorist, writing about the customs of Missouri’s Native Americans, the traditions of its African American communities, and the history of St. Joseph’s earliest settlers. The middle daughter, Luella, became a geologist, breaking into the “old boys club” of the nineteenth-century scientific community; her book, Cave Regions of the Ozarks and the Black Hills, was for over fifty years the only reference to include Missouri caves and is still a valuable resource on the subject. And the youngest Owen girl, Juliette, was a talented artist who painted images of birds and studied and wrote about ornithology. An ardent conservationist, Juliette was an animal advocate during the early days of the humane movement.
Through a compelling narrative driven by thorough research, Mueller showcases the different personalities of the three sisters who all eschewed marriage to pursue their callings, putting their accomplishments in context with the place and times in which they lived. With family stories, illustrations of early St. Joseph, and images of the Owen family to enrich the story, this book pays tribute to the Owen sisters’ contributions to the Show-Me State. The latest addition to the Missouri Heritage Reader Series, Daring to Be Different will appeal to anyone interested in Missouri history and the early years of the women’s movement.
Exciting and beautifully crafted, The Extraordinary Work of Ordinary Writing provides an entirely new way of viewing “ordinary writing,” the everyday writing we typically ignore or dismiss. It takes as its center the diary of Jennifer Sinor's great-great-great-aunt Annie Ray, a woman who homesteaded in the Dakotas in the late nineteenth century. Diaries such as this have long been ignored by scholars, who prefer instead to focus on diaries with literary features. Reading diaries through this lens gives privileged status to those that are coherently crafted and ignores the very diaries that define the form through their relentless inscription of dailiness.
Annie Ray’s diary is not literary. By considering her ordinary writing as a site of complex and strategic negotiations among the writer, the form of writing, and dominant cultural scripts, Sinor makes visible the extraordinary work of the ordinary writer and the sophistication of these texts. In providing a way to read diaries outside the limits and conventions of literature, she challenges our approaches to other texts as well. Furthermore, because ordinary writing is not crafted for aesthetic reception (in contrast to autobiography proper, memoirs, and literary diaries), it is a productive site for investigating how both writing and culture get made every day.
The book is truly original in its form: nontraditional, storied, creative. Sinor, an accomplished creative writer, includes her own memories as extended metaphors in partnership with critical texts along with excerpts from her aunt's diary. The Extraordinary Work of Ordinary Writing will be a fascinating text for students of creative writing as well as of women's studies and diaries.
The central issue Bush finds in these works is how their authors have dealt with the authority of Mormon Church leaders. As she puts it in her preface, "I use the phrase 'faithful transgression' to describe moments in the texts when each writer, explicitly or implicitly, commits herself in writing to trust her own ideas and authority over official religious authority while also conceiving of and depicting herself to be a 'faithful' member of the Church." Bush recognizes her book as her own act of faithful transgression. Writing it involved wrestling, she states, "with my own deeply ingrained religious beliefs and my equally compelling education in feminist theories that mean to liberate and empower women."
Faithful Transgressions examines a remarkable group of authors and their highly readable and entertaining books. In producing the first significant book-length study of Mormon women's autobiographical writing, Bush rides a wave of memoir publishing and academic interest in autobiography and other life narratives. As she elucidates these works in relation to the religious tradition that played a major role in shaping them, she not only positions them in relation to feminist theory and current work on women's life writings but ties them to the long literary tradition of spiritual autobiography.
As her family traveled the Oregon Trail in 1852, Mary Ellen Todd taught herself to crack the ox whip. Though gender roles often blurred on the trail, families quickly tried to re-establish separate roles for men and women once they had staked their claims. For Mary Ellen Todd, who found a “secret joy in having the power to set things moving,” this meant trading in the ox whip for the more feminine butter churn.
In Gender and Generation on the Far Western Frontier, Cynthia Culver Prescott expertly explores the shifting gender roles and ideologies that countless Anglo-American settlers struggled with in Oregon’s Willamette Valley between 1845 and 1900. Drawing on traditional social history sources as well as divorce records, married women’s property records, period photographs, and material culture, Prescott reveals that Oregon settlers pursued a moving target of middle-class identity in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Prescott traces long-term ideological changes, arguing that favorable farming conditions enabled Oregon families to progress from accepting flexible frontier roles to participating in a national consumer culture in only one generation. As settlers’ children came of age, participation in this new culture of consumption and refined leisure became the marker of the middle class. Middle-class culture shifted from the first generation’s emphasis on genteel behavior to a newer genteel consumption.
This absorbing volume reveals the shifting boundaries of traditional women’s spheres, the complicated relationships between fathers and sons, and the second generation’s struggle to balance their parents’ ideology with a changing national sense of class consciousness.
This is the first novel published in Iowa. Printed in Dubuque in 1858, it was written to recruit emigrants to Iowa; what makes it unique among emigration literature is the fact that it was directed at women, using the form of a domestic novel loaded with gentle mothers and stalwart fathers, flower-gemmed prairies and vine-draped cottages, and lots of tender words and humble weddings to encourage women to settle in the new state.
Mary Emilia Rockwell tells the story of Walter and Annie Judson, who one desperate March night decide to move to the West in search of a better life. Walter is an exploited, debt-ridden carpenter who knows that “if we could go to the West, to one of those new States where work is plenty, wages high and land cheap, we could make a more comfortable living, and besides soon have a home of our own.” Annie has “all a woman’s devotion and self-denial”; loving and supportive, she takes the path of duty and moves her little family to “a pleasant little village in Iowa.” In Newburg, everyone is newly arrived, hard-working, and self-sacrificing, facing difficulties with the certainty of prosperity and independence to come. In spite of dramatic setbacks, Walter prospers, and he and Annie build a “beautiful and commodious” house in the growing community of Hastings. The book ends with a return visit to Connecticut, where the Judsons and a series of surprising events persuade Annie’s parents to move to Iowa too, and everyone is reunited in their home in the West.
Teacher, administrator, and writer Emilia Rockwell (born about 1835, died about 1915) writes a conventionally sentimental story. However, she actually divorced her first husband, became the administrator of a juvenile reformatory in Milwaukee, and married a second time; she lived in Lansing, Iowa, for only a few years. Her writing is romantic, but she accurately portrays the economic challenges and transformations of this pioneer period and, historically, touches upon the Panic of 1857, the Mormon Handcart Expedition, and Native Americans in Iowa. Sharon Wood’s illuminating introduction presents Rockwell's biography and places the novel in its historical and literary contexts, including such events as the Spirit Lake massacre and the Dred Scott decision. A Home in the West is a satisfying read and an intriguing combination of boosterism and literature
Robyn Burnett and Ken Luebbering first looked at how immigration has affected Missouri’s cultural landscape in their popular book German Settlement in Missouri: New Land, Old Ways. Now they tell the stories of women from all across Europe who left the Old World for Missouri. Drawing heavily on the women’s own stories, Immigrant Women in the Settlement of Missouri illustrates common elements of their lives without minimizing the diversity and complexity of each individual’s experience.
The book begins with descriptions culled from diaries, letters, and memoirs documenting preparations for the journey, the perilous Atlantic crossing, and the sometimes equally long and arduous trip from the port of entry to Missouri. Burnett and Luebbering go on to examine how women, once in Missouri, coped with the problems of daily life in an unfamiliar and occasionally hostile environment. Whether it was the hardships of the frontier, the harsh realities of urban life, childbirth, the deaths of family members, isolation, or prejudice, their new lives brought numerous challenges. Many found success and contentment, as well, and the book also documents their joys and triumphs: physical survival, economic prosperity, thriving families, friendships, and community celebrations.
Because it examines the lives of women from many social classes and ethnic backgrounds, Immigrant Women in the Settlement of Missouri does much to explain the rich cultural diversity Missouri enjoys today. The photographs and narratives relating to Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, and Polish life will remind descendants of immigrants that many customs and traditions they grew up practicing have roots in their home countries and will also promote understanding of the customs of other cultures. In addition to the ethnic and class differences that affected these women’s lives, the book also notes the impact of the various eras in which they lived, their education, the circumstances of their migrations, and their destinations across Missouri.
With their engaging and straightforward narrative, Burnett and Luebbering take the reader chronologically through the history of the state from the colonial period to the Civil War and industrialization. Like all Missouri Heritage Readers, this one is presented in an accessible format with abundant illustrations, and it is sure to please both general readers and those engaged in immigrant and women’s studies.
In Search of Susanna
Suzanne L. Bunkers University of Iowa Press, 1996 Library of Congress PE64.B86A3 1996 | Dewey Decimal 929.20893
On a summer day in 1980 in Niederfeulen, Luxembourg, Suzanne Bunkers pored over parish records of her maternal ancestors, immigrants to the rural American Midwest in the mid 1800s. Suddenly, chance led her to the name Simmerl and to the missing piece in the genealogical puzzle that had brought her so far: Susanna Simmerl, Bunkers' paternal great-great-grandmother, who had given birth to an illegitimate daughter in 1856 before coming to America. Finding Susanna was the catalyst for Bunkers' intensely personal book, which blends history, memory, and imagination into a drama of two women's lives within their multigenerational family.
When Sen. Thomas Hart Benton, one of Missouri’s first two senators and the great-uncle of the famous regionalist painter of the same name, was expecting his second child in 1824, he hoped it would be a boy. Although he was graced instead with a second girl, he named her Jessie (in honor of his father, Jesse) and raised her more like a son than a nineteenth-century daughter, introducing her to the leading politicians of the day and making sure she received an education that emphasized history, literature, and languages. Jessie and her father were close; Senator Benton was the main influence in her life until 1841, when, at the age of seventeen, she married army explorer John Charles Frémont against her parents’ wishes.
Some degree of reconciliation occurred when Benton promoted Frémont’s famous explorations of the Great West. Jessie remained in Missouri with the couple’s young daughter, Lily, but she later helped to write and edit reports of her husband’s adventures, and these narratives spread the lure of the West to nineteenth-century America.
In 1849 Jessie and Lily made a harrowing and treacherous journey across the Isthmus of Panama to rendezvous with Frémont in San Francisco. With income from their gold mines, the Frémonts established a home in California. In 1856, with the country on the brink of civil war, Frémont’s antislavery position was instrumental in his being chosen as the Republican Party’s first presidential nominee. Jessie was a staunch campaigner for her husband’s unsuccessful presidential bid, which her father, a lifelong Democrat, refused to endorse.
When President Lincoln appointed Frémont as the commander of the Department of the West in 1861, Jessie served as his unofficial aide and closest adviser. In a particularly dramatic incident, she rushed to Washington, D.C., for a meeting with Lincoln in which she argued passionately for her husband’s proposal to emancipate the slaves in Missouri.
After the Civil War, the Frémonts’ financial situation took a downturn. Undaunted, Jessie supported the family by writing about her adventures in the American West in such works as A Year of American Travel and Souvenirs of My Time. Like many women of her era, Jessie lived her ambitions largely through her husband’s career, but she also made a name for herself as a writer and a firm opponent of slavery.
Juana Briones de Miranda lived an unusual life, which is wonderfully recounted in this highly accessible biography. She was one of the first residents of what is now San Francisco, then named Yerba Buena (Good Herb), reportedly after a medicinal tea she concocted. She was among the few women in California of her time to own property in her own name, and she proved to be a skilled farmer, rancher, and businesswoman. In retelling her life story, Jeanne Farr McDonnell also retells the history of nineteenth-century California from the unique perspective of this surprising woman.
Juana Briones was born in 1802 and spent her early youth in Santa Cruz, a community of retired soldiers who had helped found Spanish California, Native Americans, and settlers from Mexico. In 1820, she married a cavalryman at the San Francisco Presidio, Apolinario Miranda. She raised her seven surviving sons and daughters and adopted an orphaned Native American girl. Drawing on knowledge she gained about herbal medicine and other cures from her family and Native Americans, she became a highly respected curandera, or healer.
Juana set up a second home and dairy at the base of then Loma Alta, now Telegraph Hill, the first house in that area. After gaining a church-sanctioned separation from her abusive husband, she expanded her farming and cattle business in 1844 by purchasing a 4,400-acre ranch, where she built her house, located in the present city of Palo Alto. She successfully managed her extensive business interests until her death in 1889. Juana Briones witnessed extraordinary changes during her lifetime. In this fascinating book, readers will see California’s history in a new and revelatory light.
Life in Prairie Land
Eliza W. Farnham University of Illinois Press, 1988 Library of Congress F545.F23 1988 | Dewey Decimal 977.3030924
Combining descriptive travel writing, autobiography, and the depth of the extended essay, Life in Prairie Land--back in print in this new edition--is a classic account of everyday life in early Illinois. Eliza Farnham, a New Yorker who would become one of the leading feminists of her time, describes the nearly five years she spent living in the prairie land of Tazewell County.
Life in Prairie Land is a complex portrait of the midwestern wilderness during the 1830s--beautiful and ugly, beneficent and threatening. Farnham's vivid recreation of her experiences on the Illinois frontier offers a realistic depiction of the harsh pioneer lifestyle as well as a romantic view of an Edenic landscape.
Life in Prairie Land includes descriptions of Farnham's encounters with early settlers and Native Americans, her eye-opening experiences with birth and death, the flora and fauna that surrounded her, and the developing towns she passed through in her travels. Farnham's years on the Illinois frontier showed her the possibilities of a less restrictive society and planted the seeds that would later grow into firmly held and eloquently expressed views on women's equality.
Moon Lily: (a novel)
Susan Lang University of Nevada Press, 2008 Library of Congress PS3612.A555M66 2008 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Ruth Farley is a stubbornly independent, free-spirited woman who homesteaded a piece of land at Glory Springs, deep in a beautiful, remote canyon in the Southern California Mojave Desert. At the end of the 1930s she is still there, raising her two children and struggling to preserve her solitude. But the world is intruding. Her Indian friend Martha has been arrested for a murder she didn’t commit, and Ruth must join the Yuiatei tribe in trying to free her. In this final volume of Susan Lang’s Ruth Farley trilogy, Ruth discovers the limits of her autonomy and struggles to make peace with her painful past. As the story comes to a dramatic conclusion and the world descends into the madness of another war, Ruth finally understands that she is inextricably part of the human community and that her hard-won independence will not be sacrificed if she accepts and cherishes the bonds of love and friendship. Ruth Farley is one of the most memorable characters in recent fiction, a perplexing, sometimes exasperating, and utterly sympathetic modern woman torn between her desire for freedom and her need for love, her determination to live life on her own terms and the pressures that society places on a single woman. In this trilogy of novels, Susan Lang has achieved her place among our best contemporary fiction writers.
edited by Donna Toland Smart Utah State University Press, 1999 Library of Congress F593.S45A3 1997 | Dewey Decimal 978.02092
Patty Session's 1847 Mormon Trail diary has been widely quoted and excerpted, but her complete diaries chronicling the first decades of Mormon settlement at Salt Lake City have never before been published. They provide a detailed record of early Mormon community life from Illinois to Utah through the eyes of Mormondom's most famous midwife. They also recount her important role in women's social networks and her contributions to community health and Utah's economy, to pioneer education and horticulture. Patty Sessions assisted at the births of hundreds of early Mormons and first-generation Utahns, meticulously recording the events. Shed had an active role in the founding of the Relief Society and health organizations. She spoke in tongues and administered spiritually as well as medically to the ill. Her diaries are a rich resource for early Mormon and Utah history.
Alaska has always attracted people from varied backgrounds. In A Place of Belonging, Phyllis Movius introduces us to five women who settled in Fairbanks between 1903 and 1923 and who typify the disparate population that has long enriched Alaska. The women’s daily lives and personal stories are woven together in these biographical portraits, drawn from the women’s letters, memoirs, personal papers, club records, their own oral histories and published writings. Enriched by many never-before-published historical photos, Movius’s research gives us a unique inroad into life on the frontier.
At the age of 27, Fannie Sedlacek left her Bohemian homestead in Nebraska to join the gold rush to the Klondike. From the Klondike to the Tanana, Fannie continued north, finally settling in Katishna near Mount McKinley. This woman, later known as Fannie Quigley, became a prospector who staked her own claims and a cook who ran a roadhouse. She hunted and trapped and thrived for nearly forty years in an environment that others found unbearable.
Her wilderness lifestyle inspired many of those who met her to record their impressions of this self-sufficient woman, who died in 1944. To many of the 700,000 annual visitors to Denali National Park she is a symbol of the enduring spirit of the original pioneers.
Searching for Fannie Quigley: A Wilderness Life in the Shadow of Mount McKinley goes beyond the mere biographical facts of this unique woman’s journey. It also tells historian Jane G. Haigh’s own story of tracking and tracing the many paths that Fannie Quigley’s intriguing life took. Uncovering remote clues, digging through archives, and listening to oral accounts from a wide array of sources, Haigh has fashioned this rich lode into a compelling narrative.
In Searching for Fannie Quigley, Haigh separates fact from fiction to reveal the true story of this highly mythologized pioneer woman.
In 1929, Ruth Farley, a fiercely independent woman, homesteads a tract of land in a beautiful canyon in the Southern California desert. Determined to live on her own terms and to be free of troubling human attachments, Ruth initially rejects the help of the miners and cowboys who are her neighbors and struggles to develop the homestead on her own. Gradually, however, Ruth learns that survival is a far more complicated and dangerous business, and the entrapments of love sweeter, and more binding, than she had ever imagined. Determined to take possession of her land, Ruth must first face the consequences of her own stubborness and sensuality, and of mindless and terrible violence, as well as a bitter fight to stay alive through a harrowing and isolated winter. Only then, her hard-won wisdom forged in unbearable grief and wrenching physical trials, can she truly become part of the land she loves so intensely. Ruth Farley is a character of exceptional complexity—a liberated woman in a time when most women were tied to the home; a joyously sexual woman in a culture where most women merely "did their duty" for the men in their lives; a contradictory, self-centered, alienated woman who ultimately learns the true nature of love and community. Glory Springs, the site of Ruth's homestead, is a place of wondrous natural beauty; it is also, as we follow Ruth's tenuous search for peace and wisdom, a place that we recognize, that we, too, seek within our hearts. Small Rocks Rising is a novel of stunning richness and beauty, of memorable characters and unforgettable insight into a woman's secret and passionate soul.
With the first headlines screaming “Gold! Gold! Gold!” in 1896, the Klondike Gold Rush was on—and it almost instantly became the stuff of legend. One of the key figures in the early discoveries that set off the gold rush was the Tagish wife of prospector George Carmack, Kate Carmack, whose fascinating story is told in full here for the first time.
In Wealth Woman, Deb Vanasse recounts Kate’s life from her early years on the frontier with George, through the history-making discovery of gold, and on to her subsequent fame, when she traveled alone down the West Coast through Washington and California, telling her story and fighting for her wealth, her family, and her reputation. Recovering the lost story of a true pioneer and a fiercely independent woman, Wealth Woman brings gold rush Alaska to life in all its drama and glory.
Woman in the Wilderness is a collection of letters written between 1832 and 1892 to and by an American woman, Harriet Wood Wheeler.
Harriet's letters reveal her experiences with actors and institutions that played pivotal roles in the history of American women: the nascent literate female work force at the mills in Lowell, Massachusetts; the Ipswich Female Seminary, which was one of the first schools for women teachers; women's associations, especially in churches; and the close and enduring ties that characterized women's relationships in the late nineteenth century.
Harriet's letters also provide an intimate view of the relationships between American Indians and Euro-Americans in the Great Lakes region, where she settled with her Christian missionary husband.
Christiana and John Tillson moved from Massachusetts to central Illinois in 1822. Upon arriving in Montgomery County near what would soon be Hillsboro, they set up a general store and real estate business and began to raise a family.
A half century later, Christiana Tillson wrote about her early days in Illinois in a memoir published by R. R. Donnelley in 1919. In it she describes her husband’s rise to wealth through the speculative land boom during the 1820s and 1830s and his loss of fortune when the land business went bust after the Specie Circular was issued in 1836.
The Tillsons lived quite ordinary lives in extraordinary times, notes Kay J. Carr, introducing this edition. Their views and sensibilities, Carr says, might seem strange to us, but they were entirely normal to people in the early nineteenth century. Thus Tillson’s memoir provides vignettes of ordinary nineteenth-century American life.
Studies of the Spanish conquest in the Americas traditionally have explained European-Indian encounters in terms of such factors as geography, timing, and the charisma of individual conquistadores. Yet by reconsidering this history from the perspective of gender roles and relations, we see that gender ideology was a key ingredient in the glue that held the conquest together and in turn shaped indigenous behavior toward the conquerors. This book tells the hidden story of women during the missionization of California. It shows what it was like for women to live and work on that frontier—and how race, religion, age, and ethnicity shaped female experiences. It explores the suppression of women's experiences and cultural resistance to domination, and reveals the many codes of silence regarding the use of force at the missions, the treatment of women, indigenous ceremonies, sexuality, and dreams.
Virginia Bouvier has combed a vast array of sources— including mission records, journals of explorers and missionaries, novels of chivalry, and oral histories— and has discovered that female participation in the colonization of California was greater and earlier than most historians have recognized. Viewing the conquest through the prism of gender, Bouvier gives new meaning to the settling of new lands and attempts to convert indigenous peoples. By analyzing the participation of women— both Hispanic and Indian— in the maintenance of or resistance to the mission system, Bouvier restores them to the narrative of the conquest, colonization, and evangelization of California. And by bringing these voices into the chorus of history, she creates new harmonies and dissonances that alter and enhance our understanding of both the experience and meaning of conquest.
When Juliette Kinzie first visited Chicago in 1831, it was anything but a city. An outpost in the shadow of Fort Dearborn, it had no streets, no sidewalks, no schools, no river-spanning bridges. And with two hundred disconnected residents, it lacked any sense of community. In the decades that followed, not only did Juliette witness the city’s transition from Indian country to industrial center, but she was instrumental in its development.
Juliette is one of Chicago’s forgotten founders. Early Chicago is often presented as “a man’s city,” but women like Juliette worked to create an urban and urbane world, often within their own parlors. With The World of Juliette Kinzie, we finally get to experience the rise of Chicago from the view of one of its most important founding mothers.
Ann Durkin Keating, one of the foremost experts on nineteenth-century Chicago, offers a moving portrait of a trailblazing and complicated woman. Keating takes us to the corner of Cass and Michigan (now Wabash and Hubbard), Juliette’s home base. Through Juliette’s eyes, our understanding of early Chicago expands from a city of boosters and speculators to include the world that women created in and between households. We see the development of Chicago society, first inspired by cities in the East and later coming into its own midwestern ways. We also see the city become a community, as it developed its intertwined religious, social, educational, and cultural institutions. Keating draws on a wealth of sources, including hundreds of Juliette’s personal letters, allowing Juliette to tell much of her story in her own words.
Juliette’s death in 1870, just a year before the infamous fire, seemed almost prescient. She left her beloved Chicago right before the physical city as she knew it vanished in flames. But now her history lives on. The World of Juliette Kinzie offers a new perspective on Chicago’s past and is a fitting tribute to one of the first women historians in the United States.
Writing the Pioneer Woman
Janet Floyd University of Missouri Press, 2002 Library of Congress PS366.F76F58 2002 | Dewey Decimal 818.08
Focusing on a series of autobiographical texts, published and private, well known and obscure, Writing the Pioneer Woman examines the writing of domestic life on the nineteenth-century North American frontier. In an attempt to determine the meanings found in the pioneer woman's everyday writings—from records of recipes to descriptions of washing floors—Janet Floyd explores domestic details in the autobiographical writing of British and Anglo-American female emigrants.
Floyd argues that the figure of the pioneer housewife has been a significant one within general cultural debates about the home and the domestic life of women, on both sides of the Atlantic. She looks at the varied ideological work performed by this figure over the last 150 years and at what the pioneer woman signifies and has signified in national cultural debates concerning womanhood and home.
The autobiographies under discussion are not only of homemaking but also of emigration. Equally, these texts are about the enterprise of emigration, with several of them written to advise prospective emigrants. Using the insights of diaspora and migration theory, Floyd shows that these writings portray a far subtler role for the pioneer woman than is suggested by previous scholars, who often see her either as participating directly in the overall domestication of colonial space or as being strictly marginal to that process.
Written in response to the highly critical discussion of the attitudes and activities of female "civilizers" within "New" Western history and postcolonial studies, Writing the Pioneer Woman will be a valuable addition to the burgeoning discussion of the literature of domesticity.
For a long time, the American West was mainly identified with white masculinity, but as more women’s narratives of westward expansion came to light, scholars revised purely patriarchal interpretations. Writing the Trail continues in this vein by providing a comparative literary analysis of five frontier narratives---Susan Magoffin’s Down the Santa Fe Trail and into Mexico, Sarah Royce’s A Frontier Lady, Louise Clappe’s The Shirley Letters, Eliza Farnham’s California, In-doors and Out, and Lydia Spencer Lane’s I Married a Soldier---to explore the ways in which women’s responses to the western environment differed from men’s.Throughout their very different journeys---from an eighteen-year-old bride and self-styled “wandering princess” on the Santa Fe Trail, to the mining camps of northern California, to garrison life in the Southwest---these women moved out of their traditional positions as objects of masculine culture. Initially disoriented, they soon began the complex process of assimilating to a new environment, changing views of power and authority, and making homes in wilderness conditions.Because critics tend to consider nineteenth-century women’s writings as confirmations of home and stability, they overlook aspects of women’s textualizations of themselves that are dynamic and contingent on movement through space. As the narratives in Writing the Trail illustrate, women’s frontier writings depict geographical, spiritual, and psychological movement. By tracing the journeys of Magoffin, Royce, Clappe, Farnham, and Lane, readers are exposed to the subversive strength of travel writing and come to a new understanding of gender roles on the nineteenth-century frontier.
“Nowhere / on these parchment leaves do I find / myself, my likeness, my name, / not a whisper—Cynthia—not one / breath of me.”
For thirty years poet Jana Harris researched the diaries and letters of North American pioneer women. While the names and experiences of the authors varied, Harris found one story often connected them: their most powerful memories were of courtships and weddings. They dreamed of having a fine wedding while they spent their lives hauling water, scrubbing floors, and hoping for admirers. Many married men they hardly knew.
Based on primary research of nineteenth-century frontier women, Harris uses her compelling poetry to resurrect a forgotten history. She captures the hope, anxiety, anger, and despair of these women through a variety of characters and poetic strategies, while archival photographs give faces to the names and details to the settings. Harris’s meticulous research and stirring words give these pioneer women a renewed voice that proves the timelessness of the hopes and fears of love and marriage.