In 1911, Carrie Strahorn wrote a memoir sharing some of the most exciting events of twenty-five years of shaping the American West with her husband, railroad promoter and writer Robert Strahorn. Nearly ten years later, she's finally ready to reveal the secrets she hadn't told anyone--even herself.
Certain that her writings will be found only after her death, Carrie confronts the pain and disappointment of the pioneering life with startling honesty. She explores the danger a woman faces of losing herself within a relationship with a strong-willed man. She reaches for the courage to accept her own worth. Most of all she wonders, Can she ever feel truly at home in this rootless life?
Carrie Adell Green
• Born January 1, 1854, in Marengo, Illinois.
• Supported by her father, she received a degree from the University of Michigan and studied voice in both the United States and Europe.
• Vowed as a young girl that she would “never be a pioneer.”
• At her insistence, the word “obey” was left out of the wedding ceremony. (She and "Pard" were locating to Wyoming where Women's Suffrage was the law of the land.)
The Book That Inspired Everything She Didn't Say
"In the pages of this volume, I have endeavored to give a picture of the Old West, to tell of the efforts which a Westward marching population made to establish homes on the border line of civilization and beyond, enduring hardships and privations with the courage of heroes. I have tried to restore the picturesque condition of what was the great homeless frontier of our Western country, and to trace its development." [excerpt from Fifteen Thousand Miles by Stage ]
"That land without a peer in the world..." - Yellowstone Park
Dell was the first white woman to tour Yellowstone National Park. As there were no roads in the park, it was necessary to travel by horseback. Although it was already October, the party camped out without tents. They followed the same old Indian trail General Howard had used three years earlier while chasing the Nez Perce. By the time they reached the east side of the park, snow had begun to fall. A speedy trip to the great Falls on the Yellowstone River preceded a rapid exit before another storm hit them.
It was seven in the evening before they arrived back at the west entrance after riding 40 miles through snow and rain. Dell was so stiff it took three men to help help her off her horse. They had ridden 85 miles in two days and 125 miles in the past three. Dell had used a man's saddle to which she was not accustomed, as the trails were considered too dangerous for a side-saddle.
Even so, this indomitable woman was not about to stay behind and miss something the next day even though she was so lame that tears rolled down her cheeks and she wanted to scream with pain. With a lot of help and a large amount of agony, Dell managed to get back into the saddle. They rode 25 miles that day, but Dell remained on her horse to eat lunch. She was afraid if she got off, she'd never make it back on. Even Bob admitted that "of all our horseback ventures that 400 mile jaunt through Yellowstone Park was the worst." However, both Strahorns revelled in its virgin freshness of unmatched wonders. It is no wonder Bob and Dell were so successful in their portrayals of the West. They never lost their enthusiasm, wonder, or awe.
Source: historylink.org • Article by: Barbara Fleischman Cochran • http://www.historylink.org/File/7315
Photos & Illustration from Fifteen Thousand Miles by Stage, by: Carrie Adell Strahorn
What Might Carrie Have Really Thought?
Reading between the lines, applying information learned about Carrie from other research and knowing human nature, Everything She Didn't Say explores the reality that Carrie may well have had additional thoughts going through her mind.
“You’re the first woman to come into the park,” Marshall said. He was Robert’s height, older though, and carried himself as a man who found strength in the elements.
“First white woman, I imagine,” I countered. “No Indian woman would have kept her distance from so grand a landscape as this.”
“I hadn’t thought of that,” Marshall said. “When Colonel Vandervort of the survey team was here, he wrote that ‘no lovely woman’s sweet voice had ever floated across Henry’s Lake.’ No longer true now, thanks to you, Mrs. Strahorn.”
It wasn’t true before, I’m certain of that. Sometimes men didn’t listen and for a moment I wondered about that Arapaho or Shoshone, Crow or Blackfeet woman who might have sung a song heard in this natural cathedral.
I awoke after a miserable night, cold and shivering, to Mr. Marshall’s mutterings and learned that our horses had departed without their riders. Robert was livid and said words to Mr. Marshall, who hung a sheepish head, adding, “I lost my pipe too,” as though that was the real disaster. Men. The horses had already been gone for two hours, but in daylight the men hoped to track them. I was given an extra blanket with a canvas draped over me and a rifle for protection. Bears. They stoked the fire with wet limbs, then left me alone while the men made their search to take us back the thirty miles to any kind of supplies.I prayed they’d find those horses or we’d be walking back.
You can learn a lot by sitting and thinking. A person could freeze to death in circumstances like these. My feet were this side of wet inside those boots. Thank goodness for wool socks, wool skirts, wool coats and hats. I didn’t see my life flash before my eyes, yet. I almost wished it would. I got up, stomped around, sat back down. Memories of my childhood did come back though: my sisters and I slumping through snow, the light from our house a beacon as we walked home from school in the early dark. I imagined a warm fire. The one in front of me lacked sufficient fuel. I remembered my mother’s words in her letter after I told of our plans for Yellowstone, of how cold meals are not good for a person. What would she say about cold everything? I tried to write but couldn’t hold the pencil in my wet-gloved hands. I was grateful I wasn’t pregnant, the first time that bit of gratitude had pushed its way into my brain. And I’d have a story to tell. I considered singing but didn’t . . . it might attract a bear. What did I know about bears? As the hours wore on, I prayed aloud.
For more of what thoughts might have been going through Carrie's mind as she traveled the west, be sure to order your copy of Everything She Didn't Say.
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Want to read even more background about Carrie Strahorn?
Check out this article published in Sun Valley Magazine.