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

By Kenneth L. Holmes | Go to book overview

A Letter from California, 1849 Louisiana Strentzel

INTRODUCTION

Louisiana Strentzel -- the name is sheer poetry all by itself. Of course, her maiden name had been Louisiana Erwin, not so poetic -- or is it poetic in a different way?

She was born to the Samuel Erwins in Lawrence County, Tennessee, on October 31, 1821. Her own mother died, however, when Louisiana was three years old, and she gained a step-mother when her father married Sallie Rogers Crisp. The family migrated to Honey Grove, Texas, where she spent her growing up years.

In the Bancroft Library in Berkeley, California, among the Strentzel papers, is a marriage license dated December 31, 1843, declaring that Louisiana Erwin and John Strentzel were married in Fannin County, Texas, by Judge R. M. Lee. John Theophil Strentzel was a 30-year-old expatriate medical doctor from Poland. He had been among those Poles who took part in a revolution in 1830 against Russia, and, because of this activity, he and his brother, Henry, four years younger than John, fled to the New World rather than be inducted into the Russian army.

The Strentzels, Louisiana, John, and Henry, lived in Lamar County, Texas, for several years, and then, with two small children, two-year-old Louisa (Louie), also nicknamed "Little Pussy," and baby John, they started on March 22, 1849, on a long westward wagon journey for California. They traveled the southwestern route that led them across Texas, through present New Mexico and Ari-

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