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Covered Wagon Women, Volume 4: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1852: The California Trail

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In 1852 a record number of women helped keep the wagons rolling over the perilous western trails. The fourth volume of Covered Wagon Women is devoted to families headed for California that year. Diaries and letters of six pioneer women describe the rigors en route, trailside celebrations and tragedies, the scourge of cholera, and encounters with the Indians.


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In 1852 a record number of women helped keep the wagons rolling over the perilous western trails. The fourth volume of Covered Wagon Women is devoted to families headed for California that year. Diaries and letters of six pioneer women describe the rigors en route, trailside celebrations and tragedies, the scourge of cholera, and encounters with the Indians.

30 review for Covered Wagon Women, Volume 4: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1852: The California Trail

  1. 5 out of 5

    aPriL does feral sometimes

    ‘Covered Wagon Women’, Volume 4, is as delightful and informative to read as the previous 3 volumes. The diaries and letters of young women, both married and single, are interesting and fascinating to read. They are also rare to find in print because previous scholars concentrated on the writings of men. Lists of travelers on wagon trains frequently listed the men, while leaving all mention of the women off of the lists. As this volume, and the previous books, show, the contributions of women in ‘Covered Wagon Women’, Volume 4, is as delightful and informative to read as the previous 3 volumes. The diaries and letters of young women, both married and single, are interesting and fascinating to read. They are also rare to find in print because previous scholars concentrated on the writings of men. Lists of travelers on wagon trains frequently listed the men, while leaving all mention of the women off of the lists. As this volume, and the previous books, show, the contributions of women in the emigration of settlers was considerable. They were experts in cooking, cleaning, raising children, taking care of livestock and in the giving of common sense advice. As usual, most of them who made it to California and Oregon outlived several husbands, having followed their own common sense, even when they couldn’t convince their menfolk of it. The women in these diaries are brave and hard-working. They suffered the same agonies of disease, hunger, weather and hard travel as the men (and livestock), but they did it pregnant, with small children and babies, and in knowing they might never see their own mothers, sisters and friends left behind in ‘the States’ - a concern most of their men did not seem to share as much or deeply. Some women started the journey in deep grief of leaving their homes, others were as excited as the men at the prospect of fortune and adventure. Many were minimally educated and some were extremely opinionated about meeting people of other faiths. Some were highly accomplished and talented. However, all of the diaries chosen for publication in this volume, those who moved to California during 1852, show lively minds. Personalities come through quite clear as if these women are standing in front of you - witty, judgmental, religious, conventional. My favorite set of letters in this book are those of Lucy Rutledge Cooke. She literally describes everything, including gossip and details that the others normally skip over. She is not the wisest lady in this selection of documents, and the family she married into are a most restless bunch of characters, especially her husband who I think might have been diagnosed with ADD if he were alive today. He seems to adore being part of a wagon train, as well as be constantly looking for adventure, as he crosses the plains again and again, while Lucy usually stayed at home, wherever her husband planted her. Her mother-in-law was no slouch when it came to trying on new lifestyles either. The senior female Cooke changed to the Mormon faith and lived in Salt Lake City for a few years, while her husband worked in California. Years later she gave up Mormonism and moved to California. These women were not shrinking violets. When their men were not there, the women were handling the business of survival for themselves and their babies, and they were doing so in the most intelligent manner they were capable of. Being ignored by historians has given us a false impression of who they were. These books go a long ways in correcting the historical record.

  2. 4 out of 5

    deniseo2l

    I never tire of reading about the western expansion, and am in awe of the women who were so brave to give up the lives they knew to make the trip. This series is letters and diary accounts, complete with the spelling du jour.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Ciulla

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ms K

  5. 5 out of 5

    Becky Lower

  6. 4 out of 5

    Steph

  7. 4 out of 5

    kristin hanvey

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carol Acord

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jill Kaltenthaler

  10. 5 out of 5

    Leigh Austin

  11. 4 out of 5

    Darlene Barth

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rays1944

  13. 4 out of 5

    Karen

  14. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte Long

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jordan Ince

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ellypdq

  17. 4 out of 5

    Vena

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jen

  19. 5 out of 5

    Th

  20. 4 out of 5

    Anna Collver

  21. 4 out of 5

    LAURA

  22. 4 out of 5

    Denise

  23. 5 out of 5

    William Symms

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bobbie Nelson

  25. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

  26. 5 out of 5

    Elisabeth Welty

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tinafromdenmark

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sharon K.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Anna Cohee

  30. 5 out of 5

    Peter Clare

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