Hell on Women and Horses

“It was in the West, in consequence, that women had the greatest status.”‘ Both Smith and Bird have borrowed their views from Arthur Calhoun, with whose opinions, in matters of American family history, one has always to contend.

The frontier helped to liberalize the American family . . .Women stood by their husbands’ side and fought for life and little ones against human and other foes. Ladies whose husbands lost everything threw aside ease and luxury and fared boldly into the far West where they endured without complaint toils, danger, sickness and loneliness. Reciprocity in the marriage relation was the logical consequence where woman bore a man’s share in the struggle for existence.

This was hardly the assessment of contemporaries. Emigrant women, in their own evaluation, came much closer to the of the frontier aphorism; “This country is all right for mendogs, but it’s hell on women and horses.” Perhaps not everyone joined in that consensus, but male and female opinion on the question of the status of women conjoined in curious but revealing manner.”