By Ursula Smith, Linda Peavy, John Mack Faragher
Over the last half the 19th century, millions of fellows went west looking for gold, land, or adventure-leaving their better halves to deal with kin, farm, and enterprise affairs all alone. The reviews of those westering males have lengthy been part of the lore of the yankee frontier, however the tales in their other halves have hardly been instructed. Ten years of analysis into private and non-private documents-including letters of separated throughout the westward movement-has enabled Linda Peavy and Ursula Smith to inform the forgotten tales of "women in waiting."Though those other halves have been left roughly in limbo by means of the departure in their adventuring husbands, they have been infrequently ladies in ready in the other experience. young children needed to be fed, clothed, housed, and proficient; farms and companies needed to be controlled; collectors needed to be paid or pacified and, on occasion, well-deserved butter-and-egg cash needed to be despatched west in accordance with letters from broke and dissatisfied husbands.This increases a few unsettling questions: How does the belief of an "allowance" from domestic sq. with our long-standing photo of the frontiersman as rugged individualist? To what quantity was once the westward circulate supported through the paid and unpaid exertions of girls again east? and the way can we degree the heroics of husbands out west opposed to the heroics of better halves again domestic?
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Additional resources for Women in waiting in the westward movement: life on the home frontier
They were, however, essential to the survival of the household. So completely were these women thrown upon their own resources that Pamelia Fergus of Little Falls came to refer to herself and her fellows as "the widows," an appropriate term, since only the death of a husband would normally have given a woman of that era such complete autonomy in business and personal affairs. But while true widows saw their situation as more or less permanent and could begin to adjust accordingly, the "widows" of Little Falls, and others like them, were women thrust into limbo by the departure of husbands with whom they would, presumably, be one day reunited.
29 Despite the fact that going west to escape financial pressures at home nearly always meant leaving wives and children in untenable situations, thousands of indigent men took their leave, convincing themselves that they were doing their best to help their families by seeking the gold or land they needed to ensure economic recovery. " Even though he had received word that his wife, Agnes, might not have enough to feed their eight children through the winter of 186162, Robert continued to believe he belonged in the West, insisting, "As faur as i can see this is the place .
Some married men were neither so guarded nor so gallant about admitting to the lure of adventure that the West held for them. " 25 The promise of adventure, land, and gold would not, in and of itself, have been enough to trigger the massive westward migrations that characterized the last half of the nineteenth century. Other factors were at work. 26 The wives these men left behind were in an especially precarious situation, since they were left to face alone the very situations their husbands had found intolerable.
Women in waiting in the westward movement: life on the home frontier by Ursula Smith, Linda Peavy, John Mack Faragher