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Author Topic: CA Trail & Catholic Women Religious  (Read 3957 times)
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Jennifer Hill
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« on: November 04, 2009, 05:14:01 PM »

Can someone tell me if anyone was traveling along the CA Trail, West, that would be a member of a religious Order?  I've thought of it as a secondary persona, but I can't think how I would be traveling as a lone religious in a wagon train.  Jennifer
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Muriel Carbiener
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« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2009, 07:50:48 PM »

That is a good question.  I do not recall any reference to women from a religious order on the California Trail, and I have read a lot of trail books.  A lone woman in a wagon train would be quite rare.

Muriel
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Janet Wragge
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« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2009, 09:43:20 PM »

I can't think of anything off the top of my head, either, but something in the back of my mind is nagging at me.  Considering there were missions in California, (not sure how the dating of them and their longevity would fit our time period) I would have to think there were people (meaning nuns and priests) coming out to man them.  And I agree with Muriel - a single woman on the trail was a rare thing. 

Janet Wragge
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Maggie Koenig
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« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2009, 10:14:48 PM »

I highly, Highly doubt a women of a religious order would travel alone.  Its much more likely that a group of nuns would travel together.
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Maggie Koenig
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KarenHaas
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« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2009, 11:05:37 PM »

Haven't a clue about other Sisters, but I do know that Mother Joseph arrived at Fort Vancouver in 1856 with five other nuns. 
-Karen
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Muriel Carbiener
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« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2009, 07:40:01 AM »

I believe that the CA missions were no longer being used much when the first emigrants came in 1841 - please correct me if I am wrong. The first group to come into CA was the 1841 Bidwell-Bartleson Party who sort of wandered and did not come on what would be the CA Trail.  It leaves the main OregonTrail in Idaho at the Snake River/Raft River junction, goes southwest and finally reaches the Humboldt River in today's Nevada.  I have traveled this route in remote Idaho & Nevada.  Then there are different passes over the Sierra Nevada into CA that could be used.  Again, I have not read of any women's religious order coming on the California Trail.

Muriel
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Chip
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« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2009, 05:26:03 PM »

Was the Old Spanish Trail not the main route of Catholic movement within the region?

http://museumtrail.org/OldSpanishTrail.asp 
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Muriel Carbiener
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« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2009, 09:03:01 PM »

Was the Old Spanish Trail not the main route of Catholic movement within the region?

http://museumtrail.org/OldSpanishTrail.asp

My goodness, there just happens to be a lot of research on The Old Spanish Trail happening on the computer next to mine!!  The last paragraph of the article mentions that in 1994 legislation was submitted in Congress to research this trail for possible inclusion in the National Registration of Historic Trails.  This legislation finally passed this last spring, so now this trail can be studied by the National Park Service along with many other cut offs of the CA & OR Trails.  My husband is working with two BLM archaeologists in New Mexico and Colorado to set up work parties of volunteers to do research looking for artifacts from that time period to verify the trail.

The Trail was evidently a trade route between Sante Fe and California, so probably doubtful for Catholic women.

Muriel

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Jennifer Hill
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« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2009, 11:08:43 PM »

Thank you, ladies.  I did doubt that a nun would be traveling alone.  I know that nuns prefer not to do that.  I was just kinda hopin to bring that bit into the whole shebang.

That's OK.  There will be a way to be a married Catholic woman on the trail.  Not sure quite how it will work, but it will.   Roll Eyes

It would be so easy just to be Mormon w/ the handcarts, et al.  But, that isn't me & I don't want to do that.  [Personally, I think I'd have died along the way, quite early, in fact!]

Jennifer
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Paula
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« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2009, 08:49:56 AM »

Jennifer--If you could give us a few more details maybe we (meaning those who know more than me) could help with your basic impression. 

Are you looking only at the CA Trail?  Are you set on a particular religion?  For example there are all kinds of Protestant missionary couples traveling on the OR Trail in the 1840's.  Many of whom stayed and settled the area after their missionary work was finished. 

There was a Catholic presence in Oregon by 1847 including Father Francois Blanchet, who first arrived in 1838 and by '47 is an archbishop, three bishops, 33 clergymen (including fourteen Jesuit fathers and 13 secular priests) and 13 sisters.  This presence diminished some after the Whitman Massacre as did most missionary efforts, at least for a time.  (Washington County: Politics and Community in Antebellum America by Paul Bourke and Donald DeBats)

I have a similar problem, my family history (at least part of it) is deeply routed in the LDS faith.  But it's kind of hard to explain what a Mormon is doing in Portland, OR in the 1850's  Shocked  As a result I have been doing some research into the people who were in the area and the lifestyle (religious and otherwise) they led.  It's been really interesting and fun.
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Elaine Kessinger
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« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2009, 05:04:50 PM »

Also remember the very sad fact that many who started the journey did not finish the journey. Any single woman could be under the temporary "protection" of the gents on the wagon train until the next semi-civilized stop is reached and arrangements can be made for her. Undecided
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Jennifer Hill
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« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2009, 05:14:07 PM »

Yes, CA Trail is it, for now.  I don't have the funds to travel anywhere but Elko. <G>  1/2 hr to the Trail Ctr is do-able; 12 hrs to anywhere else [like CA] is out.

I do want to do Catholic.  But, I can do a woman on the trail, following her husband, can't I?  Traveling with others [friends or extended family] from wherever we're from? 

DH is on the Frontier [haven't figured out what he's doing there, yet!  Perhaps, looking for land?  or gold, of course] & I'm a midwife at home.  [If I get enough info to do this....]
Anyway, it is all so new that everything may change a thousand times before I'm finished!

At least, I'll be able to do white linen pinner aprons when delivering babies, right?

Your help is so appreciated.  Jennifer
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Muriel Carbiener
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« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2009, 05:29:31 PM »

Hi Jennifer - I'm looking forward to meeting your trail character next August when the Oregon-California Trails Association has its annual conference in Elko.  We all will be visiting the California Trail Center several times.  At our conference this year in Loveland, CO, I'm the one who complained to Dave Jamiel that the women's clothes in the exhibit did not look correct based on the small photo on his display board.  And then I gave Liz a heads up before she did the sewing classes for all of you.

Muriel
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Jennifer Hill
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« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2009, 10:14:54 PM »

Muriel!  I love you.  & Elizabeth!  & everyone out there willing to help this poor, benighted crossover from first C Jorvik.  [York, England during the Danish occupation.]

Please call me sometime, soon.  I'd love to visit with you & to have someone at the end of the phone to whom I could cry. <G>  Jennifer  PM me for my number.
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