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American Frontier Women

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American Frontier Women
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Author(s): William W. Fowler
Date Published: 2011/03
Page Count: 368
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-522-3
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-521-6

The exceptional women who helped build a nation

There can be little doubt in the minds of anyone who has an interest in the history of the pioneers of the emergent American nation of the huge, significant and vital role played by its redoubtable women. Whilst it might be appropriate to claim that beside every good man there stands a good woman, in the case of the women of the American frontier from its earliest days among the eastern forests of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to the trackless prairies and deserts of the westward tread of 'manifest destiny,’ the women of the new nation demonstrated their mettle often in circumstances where there were no men at all or where those who were there did not rise to the challenges as resolutely as the 'fairer sex' could. This book, originally published as Woman on the American Frontier, tracks the trials and adventures of many of the most notable women of the evolving United States. It relates their experiences at war with the British, Indians, with the soldiers of enemy states in time of civil war, fighting off guerrillas and bandits, protecting their wagons, homes, husbands and children. We share their ordeals as they walked to establish new towns and cities across the great American wilderness, through every wild force nature could throw against them and over every kind of terrain. Here are individual stories of endurance and bravery, together with accounts of utmost hardship and abduction by hostile Indian tribes. The reader will be introduced to literally dozens of outstanding women whose actions and achievements are recounted here in riveting detail. For all American women this book records a proud story of triumph over adversity, and is a testament to those who shaped today’s heritage and provided the foundation upon which the country might grow and prosper. It is also a vital book for all those interested in frontier days and women's interests everywhere. Available in soft cover and hard cover with dust jacket.

One day while plucking ears of corn for roasting, she caught a glimpse of a moccasin and a brawny limb fringed with leggins, projecting behind a clump of bushes not twenty paces from her. Repressing the shriek which rose to her lips, she quietly and leisurely strolled back to the house with her basket of ears. Once she thought she heard the stealthy tread of the savage behind her and was about to break into a run; but a moment’s reflection convinced her that her fears were groundless. She steadily pursued her course till she reached the cabin. With a vast weight of fear taken from her mind she now turned and cast a rapid, glance towards the bushes where the foe lay in ambush; nothing was visible there, and having closed and barred the door she made a reconnoisance from each of the four loop-holes of her fortress, but saw nothing to alarm her.<br>
It seemed to her probable that it was only a single prowling savage who was seeking an opportunity to plunder the cabin. Accordingly with a loaded gun by her side, she sat down before the loop-hole which commanded the spot where the savage lay concealed and watched for further developments. For two hours all was still and she began to imagine that he had left his hiding place, when she noticed a rustling in the bushes and soon after descried the savage crawling on his belly and disappearing in the cornfield. Night found her still watching, and as soon as her children had been lulled to sleep she returned to her post and straining her eyes into the darkness, listened for the faintest sound that might give note of the approach of the enemy. It was near midnight when overcome with fatigue she leaned against the log wall and fell asleep with her gun in her hand.<br>
She was conscious in her slumbers of some mesmeric power exerting an influence upon her, and awakening with a start saw for an instant by the faint light, a pair of snaky eyes looking directly into hers through the loop-hole. They were gone before she was fairly awake, and she tried to convince herself that she had been dreaming. Not a sound was audible, and after taking an observation from each of the loop-holes she became persuaded that the fierce eyes that seemed to have been watching her was the figment of a brain disturbed by anxiety and vigils.<br>
Once more sleep overcame her and again she was awakened by a rattling sound followed by heavy breathing. The noise seemed to proceed from the chimney to which she had scarcely began to direct her attention, when a large body fell with a thud into the ashes of the fire-place, and a deep guttural “ugh” was uttered by an Indian who rose and peered around the room.<br>
The first flickering light which follows the blackness of midnight, gave him a glimpse of the heroic matron who stood with her piece cocked and levelled directly at his breast. Brandishing his tomahawk he rushed towards her yelling so as to disconcert her aim. The brave woman with unshaken nerves pulled the trigger, and the savage fell back with a screech, dead upon the floor. Almost simultaneously with the report of the gun, a triumphant war-whoop was sounded outside the cabin, and peering through the aperture in the direction from which it proceeded she saw three savages rushing toward the door. Rapidly loading her piece she took her position at the loop-hole that commanded the entrance to the cabin, and taking aim, shot one savage dead, the ball passing completely through his body and wounding another who stood in range. The third made a precipitate retreat, leaving his wounded comrade who crawled into the cornfield and there died.<br>
After the occurrence of these events we may well suppose that the life of Mrs. Mack was one of constant vigilance. For some days and nights she stood sentinel over her little ones, and then in her dread lest the Indians should return and take vengeance upon her and her children for the slaughter of their companions, she concluded the wisest course would be to take refuge in the nearest fort thirty miles distant. Accordingly the following week she made all her preparations and carrying her gun started for the fort with her children.<br>
Before they had proceeded a mile on their course she had the misfortune to drop her powder-horn in a stream: this compelled her to return to the cabin for ammunition. Hiding her children in a dense copse and telling them to preserve silence during her absence, she hastened back, filled her powder-horn and returned rapidly upon her trail.<br>
But what was her agony on discovering that her children were missing from the place where she left them! A brief scrutiny of the ground showed her the tracks of moccasins, and following them she soon ascertained that her children had been carried away by two Indians. Like the tigress robbed of her young, she followed the trail swiftly but cautiously and soon came up with the savages, whose speed had been retarded by the children. Stealing behind them she shot one of them and clubbing her gun rushed at the other with such fierceness that he turned and fled.