Covered Wagon Women: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1840-1849. Volume 1.
Edited and compiled by Kenneth L. Holmes. Introduction by Anne M. Butler. University of Nebraska Press, 1983, 1996, 280 pp.
Like other American youngsters, I learned about the 19th-century pioneers heading west seeking a new and better life. But my knowledge about their travels was limited, an abstract concept. I certainly had no sense of the remarkable journeys fleshed out by the pioneers themselves in these letters and diaries.Covered Wagon Women 1840-1849
—the first in an eleven-volume series—brings together writings of thirteen pioneer women, including survivors of the Donner Party that went so tragically astray. Most of the women are Anglo Saxon Protestant, but among them are a young Quaker and a Mormon midwife, who delivers babies on her journey from Nebraska to Salt Lake City. The letters, and especially the extended journals, offer great detail about the daily travels, as the groups move slowly onward—“made 12 miles,” “made 20 miles,” “made 4 miles”—struggling with bad weather, bad water, steep inclines, hard-to-ford rivers, runaway cattle, illness, and many deaths. Read More