Mary Richardson Walker was a resolute pioneer woman and missionary of the early 19th century. In 1838, pregnant with her first child and riding side-saddle for much of the 1,900-mile trip, she embarked on the arduous journey along the Oregon Trail with her husband, Reverend Elkanah Walker, keen to carve out a life for their growing family and spread their faith in the Oregon Country. The diaries she kept offer glimpses of the daily victories and tribulations of life on the frontier, but this entry is particularly noteworthy and indicative of her spirit: a rundown of the day’s mundanities, quietly capped with some news of an arrival.
The Diary Entry
Wed. 16. Rose about 5 o’clock, had an early breakfast, got my house work done up about 9. Baked six more loaves of bread. Made a kettle of mush & have now a sewet pudding & some beef boiling. My girl has ironed & I have made out to put my clothes away & set my house in order. May the mercy of the Merciful be with me through the expected scene. Nine o’clock P.M. was delivered of a son.
Most of Mary Walker’s diaries are held at Huntington Library, San Marino, California, and in Washington State University Libraries’ Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC). However, the specific diary in which this entry was written has proven impossible to track down, so I was unable to include an image of it here. Regardless, huge thanks to the archivists at both institutions for their help, and to MASC for supplying Clifford Drury’s transcript which is part of MASC’s Elkanah and Mary Richardson Walker Papers, 1830-1938.