Women have always had to be strong, particularly farm women, and women on the frontier. I come from long lines of strong women.
I chose among these, my great-great grandmother Esther Ann (Mosher) Eggleston (https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Mosher-1490).
Esther Ann Mosher was born in 1945 in Morrow county, Ohio, to Stephen and Ruth (Smith) Mosher. They were Quakers, and had a "station" on the "underground railroad", helping escaped slaves to make it to Canada and safety. The family moved to Muscatine county, Iowa in 1853. As Quakers, the family did not send any sons to fight in the Civil War, but they contributed in other ways. They were staunch abolitionists. Esther was educated. She attended Iowa City College in 1867, earning a teaching certificate. She taught in Iowa before her marriage.
In Jan. 1872, just short of the age of 27, Esther married Wellington Kinne (W. K.) Eggleston, a widower from Boulder, Colorado with a 4-year-old son, who had come to Iowa, perhaps to find a wife. He had lived in Iowa in 1860, and may have had family there, still. Her brothers drove them after the wedding to the train, which they rode to Boulder, Colorado, in the dead of winter. W. K. had found a homestead along Oak Creek, near Cotopaxi, 35 miles west of Canon City, and intended to start a dairy. They traveled from the train line to Fremont county by way of Denver, via wagon pulled by a team of oxen.
They lived in their wagon while they built a small log cabin with a sod roof (which leaked when it rained--they were in the rain shadow of the Rockies, so that didn't happen too often). Esther did her share of the work, as they did not have a crew to help them. They felled the local aspen for the logs, but brought in boards by oxen from a sawmill for a wood floor, and door and window frames. Esther "held down the fort" while W. K. went off to buy some heifers. Here's an excerpt from her autobiography about the occasion, during which was her first encounter with the local Native Americans. In her own words (she wrote in the third person):
"All was now in readiness for the actual business of the enterprise, so one morning early, the good man started out in search of the dairy herd, to be secured in the up river provinces. The wife was busy in one of her apartments unpacking her trunk which she had not found time to disturb. Little August was near her, and her occupancy of laying out familiar articles of clothing, all teeming with the home and life she had left behind so recently, kept her mind so absorbed that she took no note of time, until suddenly the room darkened, and she glanced up to see the narrow doorway occupied by a stalwart Indian.
"Frightened? yes, but a pioneer’s wife must know naught of cowardice. She advanced with as brave a front as possible to meet the guttural 'how, how' of the savage. His curious eyes peered around the room, taking note of everything. She was not at all reassured by seeing him accompanied by a gusty young brave. Some remnants of food on the table called out the demand 'swap.' Tremblingly, she gave over the slices of bread. 'Where man?' was the next query. What should she say? She was afraid to tell them he was gone for the day, not knowing what the next move might be. She feared to admit he might be near, lest it prolong their stay. She compromised with her own conscience by saying, 'He has gone to the bush after cows.'
"At last they departed with their guns, and as the day passed on, she began to breathe easier once more, on realizing that she and the little lad were not massacred. But at three in the afternoon she heard footsteps, and saw their return from mountain-ward, but this time her fear was not so keen, and at their renewed solicitations to swap, she was ready to barter, especially as they held out for her inspection, a delicious roast of mountain sheep, killed by them during their absence, with some lovely specimens of alpine moss.
"Again the bread excited their attention, but more, a pitcher of molasses excited their envy, 'But you cannot carry it,' she objected. They however were full of expedient and pointing to a tin cup suggested its transfer there to. 'But you won’t bring it back.' They vociferously denied the accusation. She filled it for them and they rewarded her confidence by returning the cup in a day or two. Her fears were again renewed by their continued query, 'where’s man?' She was infinitely relieved by the appearance of 'the man' at this juncture. She learned afterward, that they belonged to the not at all unfriendly Indians of the Ute tribe, who at this time were located in their reservation at Saguache and came over the Poncha Pass each spring on their way to Canon City to barter their winter’s supply of pelts in exchange for supplies. The older of the men was familiarly known by the old settlers as 'Old Spoke,' a minor chief of the tribe."
Other fears braved by Esther were those of snakes, bear and mountain lions. Whenever her husband had to go to town for seed, or stock, she had to manage the farm and all the chores alone, as her step-son was too young to be of much help.
They put in crops of potatoes, wheat and corn, and a kitchen garden. They raised pigs, as well as the dairy herd.
Esther became pregnant that first year, and her husband delivered that her first baby in the winter--there was no midwife nearby. It was a daughter.
The following year, they built a frame house, and moved out of the log cabin.
The fourth summer of their marriage, 1876, they were hit by a plague of locust that ate all the crops. The grasshoppers returned, 3 more years in a row. The only thing they didn't eat was squash, so at least they had that to eat. W. K. went to work in the mining camps, to make money to feed the growing family (they were up to four kids, including Charles ("August"), the step-son, and they had a 5th during these years). The cattle were driven up in the mountains, to fend for themselves during this time. There is record of Esther teaching at Oak Creek during this period, to help make ends meet.
Esther suffered the loss of at least 2 children in infancy.
W. K. went to Pennsylvania to attend dental school in 1880 and 1881. I believe that Ester and the kids stayed home on the ranch during this time.
After W. K. returned, they rented out the homestead, and drove the cattle over the hills to Bonanza, which had more rain and better grazing. Living in a tent the first year, they sold the milk and butter in the mining camps, while Wellington practiced as a dentist there.
They moved to a home on the Arkansas River near Salida, after 3 summers in Bonanza. W. K. opened a dental office in Salida, the kids went to school there, and Esther taught at the local school. They later moved to Orchard Mesa, then to Ouray, W. K practicing dentistry in both places.
(Her autobiography can be found here: http://waterfallranch.com/the-oak-dell-story/)