Title Page || 1: Woman as a Pioneer
The history of our race is the record mainly of men's achievements, in war,
in statecraft and diplomacy. If mention is made of woman it is of queens
and intriguing beauties who ruled and schemed for power and riches, and
often worked mischief and ruin by their wiles.
The story of woman's work in great migrations has been told only in lines
and passages where it ought instead to fill volumes. Here and there
incidents and anecdotes scattered through a thousand tomes give us glimpses
of the wife, the mother, or the daughter as a heroine or as an angel of
kindness and goodness, but most of her story is a blank which never will be
filled up. And yet it is precisely in her position as a pioneer and
colonizer that her influence is the most potent and her life story most
The glory of a nation consists in its migrations and the colonies it plants
as well as in its wars of conquest. The warrior who wins a battle deserves
a laurel no more rightfully than the pioneer who leads his race into the
wilderness and builds there a new empire.
The movement which has carried our people from the Atlantic to the Pacific
Ocean and in the short space of two centuries and a half has founded the
greatest republic which the world ever saw, has already taken its place in
history as one of the grandest achievements of humanity since the world
began. It is a moral as well as a physical triumph, and forms an epoch in
the advance of civilization. In this grand achievement, in this triumph of
physical and moral endurance, woman must be allowed her share of the honor.
It would be a truism, if we were to say that our Republic would not have
been founded without her aid. We need not enlarge on the necessary position
which she fills in human society every where. We are to speak of her now as
a soldier and laborer, a heroine and comforter in a peculiar set of dangers
and difficulties such as are met with in our American wilderness. The
crossing of a stormy ocean, the reclamation of the soil from nature, the
fighting with savage men are mere generalities wherein some vague idea may
be gained of true pioneer life. But it is only by following woman in her
wanderings and standing beside her in the forest or in the cabin and by
marking in detail the thousand trials and perils which surround her in such
a position that we can obtain the true picture of the heroine in so many
The recorded sum total of an observation like this would be a noble
history of human effort. It would show us the latent causes from which
have come extraordinary effects. It would teach us how much this republic
owes to its pioneer mothers, and would fill us with gratitude and
self-congratulation--gratitude for their inestimable services to our
country and to mankind, self-congratulation in that we are the lawful
inheritors of their work, and as Americans are partakers in their glory.
In the preparation of this work particular pains have been taken to avoid
what was trite and hackneyed, and at the same time preserve historic truth
and accuracy. Use has been made to a limited extent of the ancient border
books, selecting the most note-worthy incidents which never grow old
because they illustrate a heroism, that like "renown and grace cannot die."
Thanks are due to Mrs. Ellet, from whose interesting book entitled "Women
of the Revolution," a few passages have been culled. The stories of Mrs.
Van Alstine, of Mrs. Slocum, Mrs. McCalla, and Dicey Langston, and of
Deborah Samson, are condensed from her accounts of those heroines.
A large portion of the work is, however, composed of incidents which will
be new to the reader. The eye-witnesses of scenes which have been lately
enacted upon the border have furnished the writer with materials for many
of the most thrilling stories of frontier life, and which it has been his
aim to spread before the reader in this work.