Pioneer Women---In The Background!

I always thought the stereotype of women that most historians painted was so off of the canvas.  The Gold Rush era was a good example.  When you see a photo of the men panning gold and the hardships that they speak of that they had to endure in all kinds of elements---something is missing in many photo's---"Women."

Missing are the wives daughters, single women who with unbelievable courage and strength that stood right beside them.  Some Gold Rush women had come along with their husbands to the mines and traveled for months in covered wagons to get there.

Once on arrival that dream for many was washed down those streams that the fever of the gold rush painted in its swift waters.  For many of the women who actually lived in the camps while their husbands panned for this precious mineral, it was a harder life.  Many women found that taking on chores of washing and cooking for other camp men was very profitable.

Many Eastern women that were disgruntled over the low wages that they were receiving started coming to the gold fields and soon found that they could cook and make as much as thirty dollars a day and women that did washing could make twice that much.  This was big money in 1849. 

Several women found unconventional ways to disguise there identity to accomplish their endeavor among the men.  One Mexican woman used a string of mules to bring flour to the camps, she did this by disguising herself as a man.

Charley Parkhurst, was mention through out this time period as a fierce stagecoach driver and was never afraid to use his gun when needed.  He was known as "One Eyed Charley," for he had lost one eye after a kick from a horse.  He was respected and admired for his skill with the driving of four-or six-in hand of the reins.

Women from all walks of life came to seek their own fortune. On Sundays and nights after panning for a few specks of gold, the men wanted recreation. Many found that piles of gold dust could be put into their hands with a simple game of cards without getting a speck of dirt on their gowns. of course there were the prostitutes. We might say a lot of gold nuggets never traveled far from where they were discovered?

Many of these women that cooked meals in a simple Dutch oven beside a stream or under a pine tree made a fortune and went on to start there own business after the gold rush played out. They became business women in their own right and now were the bread-winners and raised their families.

Yes, these women in their own ways, had to endure what was placed in front of them to survive and paved the way for us. Yet, some have forgotten and left them off of many painted canvas's of our history.

History is a painting of memories to lead us into the future!

Comments 17 comments

Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor

Great -- let's hear it for all the women who had to pretend to be men just to be treated like human beings!

Ginn Navarre profile image

Ginn Navarre 7 years ago Author

Thanks Teresa, those great women paved the way for all of us.

Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States

Here I am over 1000 miles away from you and I was thinking about pioneer women last night, and then you write this wonderful piece. How weird is that? Actually, what prompted that was some of the old family photos with women in our family posing with rifles and guns -- which made me wonder why there are no photos of men with guns??

Ginn Navarre profile image

Ginn Navarre 7 years ago Author

jerilee we do seem to have that nack---weird?

Nancy's Niche profile image

Nancy's Niche 7 years ago from USA

Great article on our pioneer women...One thing for sure---I would never have made it in that time...I am too independent and speak my mind.

Ginn Navarre profile image

Ginn Navarre 7 years ago Author

Hey Nancy, yes probably you and I would be the two that they--shot or hung in the photo's.

Smireles profile image

Smireles 7 years ago from Texas

I loved your article about pioneer women.

Ginn Navarre profile image

Ginn Navarre 7 years ago Author

Thanks Smireles, those women have my respect.

\Brenda Scully 7 years ago

Don't let us ever forget those women....

Ginn Navarre profile image

Ginn Navarre 7 years ago Author

Brend, yes they endured what many today would or could not face.

Cris A profile image

Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

everyone plays a role on earth and not one is smaller than the other. the world, in its crazy crazy ways have a way of balancing eveyrthing out. we may not see it, but we know it. thanks for the read! And hell yeah women - pioneer or not - rock :D

Ginn Navarre profile image

Ginn Navarre 7 years ago Author

Hey Cris, thanks for the in-put. This crazy world will never really balance out in regards to the genders, but like you said we will keep on-rockin.

Duchess OBlunt 7 years ago

A wonderful look into life during the gold rush. Until I read this Hub, I have to admit, I never did think of the women involved.

Thanks for a great read. You have a wonder ability to paint a picture with words.

Ginn Navarre profile image

Ginn Navarre 7 years ago Author

Thanks Duchess, history has a way of only showing the men,but you can bet there was a women leading the way.

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Hi Ginn

Great Hub.

In the early exploration period of the old west, men usually came alone and women were scarce. As a result, the few women who were there were revered and God help the man who harmed one, even if she was a lady of ill repute.

Later, as the great western migration began, the entire family moved west, and the women stood shoulder to shoulder with their men.

Many of my stories feature women and some are about the rugged yet feminine women of the old west.

AnnieRoseVA 6 years ago

Great article on women pioneers. I love that time period and can't read enough about it. Yes, life was hard in those camps. I've run across some interesting true stories in books found in antique stores about woman and children then. Some are very heartwarming and others are really rough stories. Thanks for this article - I enjoyed it.

Ginn Navarre profile image

Ginn Navarre 6 years ago Author

Thanks Annie, I too love this time period for many reasons. I think that those strong women are what got us gals here today.

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