Best of Covered Wagon Women ~ A Book Review

Best of Covered Wagon Women ~ A Book Review

Title: Best of Covered Wagon Women, Vol 1 ~ A Book Review
Author: Kenneth Holmes
Publisher: Oklahoma University Press
ISBN#: 9780806139142
Pages: 304 pages - soft cover
Cost: $19.95
Received: Purchased at Museum in Oregon
Topic: Frontier & Pioneer Life; History 19th Century/Old West
Received: Purchased at Museum in Oregon


Eight firsthand accounts of women who braved the overland trails during the great 19th-century westward migration are collected here. The accounts were selected for the power with which they portray the hardship, adventure, and family and friendship bonds that characterized the overland experience. Some were written by educated women, and others bear the mark of cabin learning, with archaic spelling and a simplicity of expression. Each account begins with an introduction to its author and what is known about her life. A few b&w historical photos are included. Holmes (1914-95) was a professor of history at Oregon College of Education (now Western Oregon University). Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (


While in Oregon I visited a museum on the Oregon Trail. It was a short stop that ended up being a few hours. The museum was interactive and so as I listened to stories I began to wonder about journals. In the bookstore I saw Volume 1 ~ Best of Covered Wagon Women. Later I found this to be a series and actually read volume 2 before this one.

These journal entries were penned by young married women. There are 8 journals recorded. Each section begin with facts about the person who wrote the journals. The facts include who they married, how long they lived, what they did as an occupation and such. Then the entries begin.

One journal came from a brave women named Margaret Frink. She was the first woman to travel by wagon train west. No complaints were found in her journal entries. She always shared what little they had because she had planned well. While others were running out of food or grass for the livestock Mr & Mrs Frink were ready for what might lie ahead of them.

In comparison to volume 2 there were several striking differences. Younger women in volume 2 wrote about adventures and scenery while the older women in this volume wrote about fear, death and hardships. Many wrote how many graves they passed each day, while other wrote about how many dead livestock they passed and still others wrote about facts ~ how far they traveled, how high above sea level they were, longitude and latitude and trail posts along the way.

When I finished reading this volume what I found were questions. I wanted to know how they knew all the facts recorded and found the answers readily in other books about the Oregon trail. This volume gave me such gratitude for all these women did to establish the west.

The journaling in this volume was specific and cautious almost. Few personal facts were written so you did not get a glimpse of what these women were feeling besides fear at times. The writings seemed to be guarded and that is why so much history could be gleened from them. I began to wonder what my journals would be critqued in 150 years. Would they be guarded, factual, emotion, unstable, joyful, hopeful or what?

These journals give the reader a clear insight on the factual and reality aspects of the wagon train. We can learn much from these journals.

I highly recommend this volume and would recommend that reading this series begins with Volume 1 as they go in year order. Open your heart and minds to the reality of not only the wagon train travels but how these journals are affecting those a hundred plus years later.

You can purchase this book either in hard copy, soft copy or eBook format. Purchase link is below.

Visit Scenic

DIRECT Link To Purchase:
Best of Covered Wagon Women ~ Vol 1 ~ By Kenneth L Holmes