Covered Wagon Women: Diaries & Letters from the Western Trails, 1840-1849 - Vol. 1

By Kenneth L. Holmes | Go to book overview

A Brimfield Heroine Tabitha Brown

INTRODUCTION

In the legislative chambers of the Oregon State Capitol in Salem there are inscribed 158 names of citizens prominent in Oregon's early development. Of these, six are women.

Two Indian women are there: Sacajawea of the Lewis and Clark party; and Marie Dorion, wife of the guide of the Astorians. Narcissa Whitman, the missionary, is there, as is Frances Fuller Victor, writer of a number of volumes on early Pacific Northwest history. The other two provide documents for our story of diaries and letters. Abigail Scott Duniway, the leading women's suffrage advocate for the region, was one of them. She wrote an important transcontinental diary in 1852.

The sixth woman thus memorialized in the Capitol was Tabitha Brown, the writer of the "Brimfield Heroine" letter here published. It first appeared in the Palmer, Ohio, Journal, thus titled, on February 18, 1882. The Brimfield, Massachusetts, Public Library provided us a copy of the Journal article. It was reprinted in Congregational Work in June, 1903. The "Brimfield Heroine" article became known to western readers and scholars when it was published in the Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society in its Volume V, June, 1904, issue. This last edition of the letter is the one usually used for subsequent study.

However, there appeared in the same periodical in December, 1942, a notice that the diary of Tabitha Brown had been donated to Pacific University.1 Search in the li-

____________________
1
Oregon Hist. Qtly., XLIII ( Dec. 1942), p. 373. The donor was A. N. Bush of Salem, "whose wife was a great-granddaughter of Tabitha Brown."

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