As some might know, I grew up in England until I fell in love with an American at 16 years old. I felt so grown up at the time, but saying that now seems very young!
We got married when I was 20 so it wasn’t a child marriage or anything, nor was it an arranged marriage. If my parents did arranged marriages….they certainly wouldn’t have planned for their only child to move 5,000 miles away!
Anyway, over the years of dating, and in the 11 years since we got married, I have often thought of the pioneer women who got married, many younger than me, and moved with hardly a hope of seeing their parents again.
During my history research I came across references to mail in the Arbon Valley and Rockland areas. Some got their mail only once a year! Others were lucky and got it every three months. If a young girl moved from, New York for example, or even Chicago, her letter could reach the post office in Malad and sit there for three months before someone from Arbon went to town for supplies and picked up the mail. Perhaps sit there even a year.
When I had my babies I webcammed my parents to tell them I was pregnant, and my Mum flew in from England a few days before to be there, as well as several times while I was pregnant. In contrast a pioneer woman might write to her mother to say she was expecting, and her mother might not even receive the news until the baby was three months old. A friend of mine who lives in Chicago recently had a baby and her Mom got on the airplane after she was in labor and still made it in time for the birth.
Another difficulty was scraping the money together for a stamp in the first place. They may not have been starving because they lived off the land. But actually having cash to spend on things like stamps was a difficulty for most, if not all, early settlers.
Such a contrast to the time when, not only young brides, but couples and families traveled thousands of miles with no hope of seeing their family again. There was no visiting on vacation, no airplanes and certainly no Facetime. Some traveled from Germany, Russia and England to name a few. Others traveled the Oregon Trail from Missouri. Although they may have planned to go all the way to Oregon, they may have stopped anywhere on the way, or met with disease and death and never made it anywhere.
The people of this time were built different. Imagine having enough hope of a new and better life that you would sell all that you have, leave all who you know, for a life that turned out to require every ounce of strength and energy you possessed, every day, and some still failed and had to start again.
That was the American Dream; that was the substance of our forefathers.
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