Life of the Female Pioneer on the Oregon Trail University Of Phoenix HIS/110 August 25, 2012 Kim Murphy Life of the Female Pioneer on the Oregon Trail My life as a female pioneer taking the journey down the Oregon Trail was one of hardship and adventure. During the early 1800s settlers began to explore new territory in the New World looking for new opportunities. Through the pioneer journeys of Lewis and Clark a route through America was discovered that would take settlers to new land in the Pacific Northwest portion of the country. To reach the new land pioneers, such as I, had to travel down what became known as the Oregon Trail.
Through the Oregon Trail the expansion of the West began but to get to this new part of the country I would have to travel two thousand miles along with other pioneers from my part of the country. We started in Missouri that required us to travel through five states to reach our new destination. To reach the new land offered to myself and the other pioneers in the New World, we would travel in large groups with people in wagons and on horseback. This was to help ensure our safety as we traveled the Oregon Trail to the new land in the West.
Our travels included men, women, and children of all ages. Although I made the choice to go myself, there were many women on the trail that had to face the hardships of the long trail because their husbands had chosen to take this adventure. This was difficult for many of them because they were forced to leave their already established homes in exchange for the hardships of the trail and an uncertain future in the Pacific Northwest. To travel down the Oregon Trail, we travelled in horse drawn wagons and had oxen’s pulling carts of supplies.
I like other pioneer families left my home with my worldly possessions that I could afford to carry. We faced being robbed at gunpoint by highway men on the trail. Another danger faced by the female pioneers and the wagon train were attacks by Native Americans. The Wagon Trains were attacked and burned and the men were killed leaving the women, children, and wagon supplies to be stolen by the Indians. Women were forced to become the slave of an Indian family or the wife of an Indian brave while the children were adopted by Indian families or made to be slaves.
I and the other women were responsible for ensuring the food supply lasted on the long journey as well as packing the wagon. We were also responsible for cooking the meals on the Oregon Trail. We were required to wear long dresses with long sleeves in oppressive heat and care for all of the needs of the men and children as well as tend to the sick. There was a major risk to the female pioneer of losing our husbands or even our children to illness or accidents along the Oregon Trail. If the food supply ran short the men would hunt for food, use supplies meant for our new homes, or die of starvation.
Illnesses, such as Typhoid and cholera, were common and would spread through the wagon trains creating more work for us women (Bledsoe, 1984). The overworked women would in turn become more vulnerable to becoming sick and perishing. Women who gave birth while on the Oregon Trail faced vast difficulty and in many cases the female pioneer or the new born would die. Women pioneers were usually fairly young because women during this time married as young as 14 but quickly toughened up because of the major responsibilities we faced on the trail.
Despite the many hardships faced by myself and the other female pioneers, we helped to pave the way for future generations of Americans and bravely traveled to an unknown land to build a new life. The Oregon territory was originally jointly owned by American and the British but was acquired by America in 1846 and expanded the territory of the United States (Eddin, 2009). Before Oregon was acquired by America the area was sparsely populated and the single woman, such as I, had little opportunity to find a husband. In most cases we would marry a farm hand or the closest neighbor.
Marriages were rarely based on love but instead of convenience and the benefit to the family. A large majority of pioneers became farmers making the pioneer women a farming wife but also required her to deal with the harsh winters that were associated with the area and adjust to a life of constant isolation. Once American acquired the Oregon territory the population began to expand and the pioneer families were offered more opportunity as well as single women, such as I, had more opportunity to meet potential husbands.
New towns and cities began to emerge and we women were no longer forced to sew our own clothes. It also provided a more convenient and affordable way for us to buy food than in the past. Once the population began to grow in Oregon the society became more modernized and life for I and the other pioneer women became less harsh. References Bledsoe, L. (1984). Adventuresome Women on the Oregon Trail: 1840-186. http://www. jstor. org/discover/10. 2307/3346237? uid=3739256&uid=2129&uid Eddin, O. (2009). The Oregon Country and Westward Expansion. http://www. thefurtrapper. com/oregon_country. htm