Pioneer Women: Margaret Frink

CA poppy close viewAlthough they owned a successful mercantile in Indiana, and were a bit older than the average gold-rusher, Margaret and her husband Ledyard were just as excited by the California gold discovery as everyone else. Despite the foreboding of friends and family, the couple purchased a custom wagon with storage compartments built into the floor, took the right types of durable clothing, and wisely packed folic acid-rich pickles and vinegars to prevent scurvy. They had quite an adventure traveling 2,000 miles, with Margaret riding side saddle on her pony for much of the trip.  However, somewhere along the way gold mining must have lost its appeal. The couple, who had withstood freezing storms, crossed blazing deserts, forded swift-moving icy rivers, endured blinding dust clouds, suffered fatigue and hunger—all for an admitted, consuming gold fever—stayed put when they arrived in Sacramento in October 1850. Margaret Frink’s detailed, articulate diary of their overland journey to California remains a classic account of American pioneer history. Read more about her in Disaster & Triumph: Sacramento Women, Gold Rush Through the Civil War. March is National Women’s History Month.