Wednesday, November 18, 2015

African American Women of the Old West --by Tricia Marineau Wagner

History / Old West
168 pages
5 Stars

This is an excellent introduction to the contributions African American Women made in the opening of the Old West. Wagner profiles 10 women of indomitable courage who went through whatever it required to get where they wanted to get.

I am a bit disappointed there were no stories of African American women who helped settle the Inland Empire of Oregon, Washington, & Idaho – but that's probably due to the fact there were none. Those who came went on to Portland or Seattle.

I think my favorite character, and she was, indeed, a character was Mary Fields, aka Stagecoach Mary, though it's difficult to pick a favorite.

Ms. Wagner did her research, and told each story with care and attention to detail, without bogging the story down in nothing but facts. This book should be in every history class in every high school in the country. Not just in the class, but taught.

I look forward to reading Wagner's book, It Happened on the Underground Railroad. If I have to find a negative remark about this book, it is only that it was too short. I would like to have read a great deal more about many of these women. Oh, wait, I can do that, can't I? ;-)

If you're a history buff, as I am, I heartily recommend this book. Job well done, Ms. Wagner. Job well done.

1 comment:

  1. Ms Wagner's offering sounds immensely interesting! It's good we, as a nation, are gaining, at last, some sense of appreciation for difference. All sorts of differences.

    Nearest thing to "colored" among my British grandparents' neighbors was Myver Doover (that's how she named herself), she of the wizened face so like a dried apple, whose constant appeal to members of the community was for "peans," which nobody could figure out quite what she meant. I wonder, now, if she mightn't have had a debilitating stroke that interfered with her ability to communicate in ANY language.

    Ms Wagner's characters are perfectly able to communicate -- to say clearly what they meant; their trouble was on the other end: those who weren't able to hear clearly. And that had nothing to do with their color; not even much to do with body language, unlike the communication attempts Myver Doover made.

    Yes, her visage WAS dark, but not Negro dark, rather sun-bronzed, under her poke bonnet (her only concession to life in America). Otherwise, her actions were decidedly foreign. She dressed and carried herself like a character out of an old Russian fairytale, though she wasn't known to be Russian -- she spoke no understandable English, but seemed quite sure SHE knew what she meant -- and finding herself again misunderstood, and again, again, she stumped furiously away along the deep ditch that ran on the narrow side of the nigh-crowned rural road past my grandparents' farm in her tunic of some durable cloth, a 10-inch bone-handled knife (made from an old file) in its deep, single pocket. For protection? Foraging? Aggression? In many ways, she was -- or at least seemed -- like a woman from Mars, at least that far away.

    "Color" comes in all sorts of interesting shades.