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Women Essay

1425 words - 6 pages

On the 100th year anniversary of the westward journeys, it is impressive to look back and see how much the nation has progressed since it first started its migration to the west. The challenges and adjustments the people had to make on this trail, really show how far this nation has come.
Emigration all started when the economy was in a depression with low wages and unemployment affecting thousands of people across the nation. That wasn't the only reason however, many farmers felt crowded and were being put at disadvantages because of that. Originally the move to Oregon was to basically give people a second chance, but there would be more reasons to explore the west through different periods of times for reasons such as mining in California or the discovery of silver in Nevada. Men and women tried to keep their families together, and beyond that, try to keep a network of other emigrants with them for a sense of security and community. Women such as Jane Cazneau wrote about keeping unity with her family; she wrote about how instead of running away from the Indians, she would sit next to her husband and hand him bullets in order to defend themselves. Some women like Jane believed it was their Christian obligation to stay close together, while others like Margaret Wilson thought there was no other way around it. Families were represented as something to keep order on the trail, even men who were single would be grouped up with a family and be an extra pair of hands. If a family was torn apart there was bound to be distractions, Nancy Kelsey said "I can better endure the hardships of the journey than the anxieties of an absent husband" (Blew 31). Men and women would take care of another when they were ill, they would even have to face childbirth, at times without a midwife.
There were many diseases and illnesses that travelers came in contact with such as diarrhea, malaria, dysentery, measles, fever, smallpox, and the most know is cholera. Cholera was believed to be caused from tainted water from holes dug up by campers, but it wasn't just ravaging the United States, it was spreading all across the world. Families would often be wiped out, and on occasion the surviving children would be orphaned. Travelers would start to take precautions such as burning the clothes of the victims and their wagon, or even try abandoning their wagons in order to flee as far as possible from it. The few remedies developed against it were Laudanum and camphor, for everything else there were home remedies such as baths and herbs used.
In general, the emigrants and Native Americans had a hostile relationship filled with fear and uncertainty. The whites would usually be distrustful and ignorant toward the Natives. This wasn't always the case though, according to Miriam A. Thompson some Natives were eager enough to help her and her family through a sandstorm with their canoes. Mary A. Jones on the other hand had experienced different attitudes from Indians, one of them...

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