The Souvenir of Western Women/The Spirit of the Pioneer Mother

The Spirit of the Pioneer Mother


AN incident recently came to my knowledge illustrating the spirit of the pioneer mothers of Oregon.

In the winter of 1844-5, Mr. Francis Perry, then living near Muscatine, Iowa, returned home one day and said to his wife, then in her sixteenth year, and the mother of a babe six months old:

"Elizabeth, I want to talk with you. I have made up my mind to go to Oregon. Now, you can do as you please—go with me, or go home to your father and mother with the baby, and wait until I go out there and get a home started, when I will send for you or come back after you."

"Francis," she said, "when I married you I left my father and mother to live with you; and when you get ready to go to Oregon I will go with you."

Soon afterwards Mrs. Perry's father visited her and said:

"My child, come back home with the baby and stay until your husband has a home ready for you in that far-away land. Just think of it! There is nothing out there but savages and wild beasts. Mr. Perry will necessarily have to be away from home much of the time in order to earn the means to make a start with; and he will return home some time and find you and the baby murdered or destroyed by wild beasts. My child, don't go, don't go!" And tears came streaming from his eyes.

"Father," Mrs. Perry said, "my duty to my husband impels me to go with him. When I married him I left you and mother to help him make a home; and now with all possible love and respect for you, my deepest convictions are that I must go with him."

Then the mother of the determined young woman spoke up and said, recalling her own young married life, "Father, Elizabeth is right; don't talk to her any more!"