17. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: History, Janet, NonFiction · Tags:

Women of the West by Dorothy Gray, 180 pages, read by Janet, on 07/17/2012

This country owes a lot to the efforts of the remarkable but rarely identified women of our western past.  Most are familiar with Sacajawea’s help to Lewis and Clark, but who knows of Narcissa Whitman, who ran a mission and helped travelers on the Oregon Trail, sending letters home that described conditions taking place during those years.  Many letters written by these early western women have been backgrounds for books.  Juliet Bier cared for three children while driving their cattle through Death Valley, following her husband, who was venturing ahead.  She helped many of the ’49ers along the trail and was later called “the best man of the party”.  There was Dame Shirley, who wrote descriptions of life in the California Gold Rush, minority women such as Biddy Mason and Donaldina Cameron, who taught and helped early settlers and the down-trodden Chinese culture, Esther Morris and Carrie Chapman West who led women in their new right to vote, and Ann Eliza Young, who won her fight agaiinst polygomy in the Mormon culture. Bright Eyes, daughter of Omaha Chief Iron Eyes, educated Indian children, then grew politically and gave many speeches in the East, particularly Boston and Washington D. C., leading a crusade for Indian justice.

There were many women who let the world know the conditions in the West as they taught, lectured, and led policital groups to help the cause of those being unfairly treated. More that were mentioned in the book were:  Agnes Morely Cleveland, Pamela Mann, Ella “Cattle Kate” Watson, Elizabeth Taylor (not the actress), Anna Howard Shaw, Bethenia Owens-Adair, Lucy Anthony, Miriam Davis Cott, Mary Elizabeth Lease, and Willa Cather. These were only some of the well-educated women who gave their all in the arts and political fields, as well as personally, to help the people settling the West.