Friday, July 25, 2008

Not an Easy Life for Women on the American Frontier

Hardships of Covered Wagon Journey Across Plains Recalled By Pioneer

(Written by Mary Frances Patton Welch, a 90 year old Ashland pioneer ... article tells of the family 1862 journey across the plains with her grandfather, captain of the emigrant train of 100 persons and of their perils and adventures enroute).

Our family consisted of Mr. and Mrs. John Parham, who were my grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. William Patton who were my parents, my little sister Ettie and myself. Sister Annie was born on the way, near American Falls on the Snake River in Idaho. Mother thought she would get through the trip before the stork arrived, but as there was a doctor in our emigrant train, she and baby were taken care of. When the baby was only three days old we had a fight with Indians.

Women out west treated MUCH differently ...

[We] had to pass through a canyon where the women drove and the men fought all the way through.

The younger generation does not realize the hardships the pioneers had ... We children had to walk two miles to school and two miles back each day. There were wild cattle, rattlesnakes, ringsnakes, and once in a while we heard a panther scream. There was plenty of game such as wild hogs, turkeys, quail, plenty of fish in the streams so our meat did not cost anything ... We girls helped to drive the cattle. We had no saddles, only surcingles and blankets for our horses. We were several weeks on the trip. ... In some places they had to cut down small trees and tie them to the back of the wagons to use for brakes.

We milked some of the cows, put the cream in a chum and by the end of a day's travel we would have several pounds of butter-the motion of the wagon churned it. Our bread was baked in a dutch oven.