Chapter 122 Wanted: Extremely Rare Book By or About Pioneer Woman

I wrote recently about all of the interesting titles of books written by or about women pioneers, those brave souls who journeyed into the unknown west from the all-knowing east. They led ordinary lives filled with extraordinary challenges — starvation, lack of permanent shelter, lack of water, lack of money, wars with native tribes, wild animals, etc. Most of the titles of these books reflect this peril in some way, and most of them end with the narrator’s triumph and arrival at her western destination. After settling in the west, many of these pioneer women wrote books of poetry — Poetry of the Pacific, Souvenir of California, and The California Pioneer, to name a few — extolling the beauty and the virtues of their newfound home.

What I’ve never seen — and I wonder if it even exists — is a book by or about a pioneer woman titled something like this:

Should Have Stayed Home

While I’ve found numerous books describing hardship, I’ve never seen one where the author wishes she had never left home in the first place. Have you? Why is that, do you think? I know if I were a pioneer woman, I’d certainly have been wishing to be back in Boston or wherever I came from at the first sign of a busted wagon wheel, drifting snow, or a day without food. I can’t find any woman from the time who felt that way. Perhaps those like me actually did stay home. Perhaps those of us living with modern conveniences are not as tough as those hardy souls who hunted and grew their own food, made their own clothes, and birthed and often buried their own children. What do you think?


Filed under Bibliography and Reference Books, Book Finds, Uncategorized

4 responses to “Chapter 122 Wanted: Extremely Rare Book By or About Pioneer Woman

  1. How hard it must have been to write of their adventures, while keeping house (in whatever dwelling available) and raising children. This brings to mind a poem I saw recently in “Dawn~The Rise of the West in the Poetry of the West”. Not “great” poetry, but a good summation…

    (With apologies to Joyce Kilmer)

    I often wish that I could write
    But duties call from morn ’til night.

    A sonnet trembles on my lips~
    A dust cloth at my finger tips;

    A ballad in the mother tongue~?
    Those pesky curtains must be hung.

    And when I seek to rival Poe
    It’s button holes I have to sew.

    How can one calmly sit and think
    With dirty dishes in the sink?

    Poems are made by fools, ’tis said~
    I’ll bake an apple pie, instead.

    ~Grace Nowacki

  2. I love this poem. I’m printing it out and hanging it on my refrigerator! Thanks, Jeanne.


  3. Lahana

    Greetings, Chris

    Thank you for taking the time to write about your journey to become an antiquarian book seller. I have similar aspirations. My favorite women pioneer stories are: THE JUMP-OFF CREEK by Molly Gloss, and LETTERS OF A WOMAN HOMESTEADER by Elinore Pruitt Stewart. Have you read these?

    It might sound morbid, but I think the reason you don’t hear negative accounts, is that many of those women died in their quest to move west. Also, what was the literacy rate back then? How many well-educated families moved West? With all the hardships on the trail, did they have ink,pens,paper? Probably items to ensure survival were much more important.

    If they were fortunate enough to make it to their destination, what was their mindframe? Odds are, they lost friends, children, or relatives along the way. Like post-partum depression, it must have been hard to find the value in writing the ordeal down. I think we only hear from Darwin’s stars. The ones who have an intellect that won’t let them rest, the leaders who want to give others strength and courage, the ones whose faith carried them through.

    I am grateful they wrote about their journeys to new lands and new hopes. When I’m having a bad day, I try to remember those brave souls, traveling across the plains, surviving on their wits. Makes me feel humble, and feisty.

    Thanks for your blog.
    Lahana @ Pandora’s Books

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