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

By Kenneth L. Holmes | Go to book overview

Letters from a Quaker Woman Rachel Fisher

INTRODUCTION

The key word is "poignant" when describing the letters that follow.

As a 15-year-old girl, Rachel Joy (b. April 20, 1822), had emigrated with her parents, Reuben and Rachel Joy, from Henry County, Indiana, to the budding Quaker community of Salem, Iowa. That was in the year 1837.

On January 6, 1841, she and John H. Fisher were married. Over the next four years she would give birth to four children: Angelina, b. December 17, 1841; Thomas Clarkson, b. November 24, 1843, both of whom died on April 14, 1844, probably during an epidemic. Then there were twin girls, Anna Jane and a second Angelina, born on February 5, 1845. Anna Jane died on December 7, 1846, just over one year old.1

John and Rachel Fisher started over the plains to Oregon in the spring of 1847 in a wagon train led by Henderson Luelling, a close family friend. Angelina was in excellent health. The first of Rachel's two letters here published was written to tell the folks back home of the death of her husband, John, on June 6, 1847. It was sent from "Sixty miles from Fort Larima" early in July.

Rachel traveled on, aided by other members of the wagon train. The second letter, written in "Tualaty County, Ore-

____________________
1
This information was gleaned from the Iowa historical collections in different localities by Frances Fuller Meltebeke. See also Mary Elizabeth Way, The Way Family ( Martinez, Calif., 1969). Rachel's middle name was Way.

-97-

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