Brief Description: To be added
Date Range: 1830-1902
Original Publication: 1962
Suitable for Grades: 4-8th
This old-fashioned fictionalized biography of Jessie Benton Fremont made me wish it was a biography of her husband, John Charles Fremont. The strictures placed on women at the time limited Jessie’s opportunities, while her husband made five westward expeditions to explore and map routes to Oregon and California. He also ran a gold mine, became involved in the early politics of California, fought in the Civil War, and ran for President of the United States. The website georgiahistory.com has some excellent information and a teacher guide about their native son Fremont.
Of course, Jessie was instrumental in supporting her husband’s career. The well-connected daughter of a Missouri Senator, she married at age seventeen and bore five children, two of whom died young. She compiled Fremont’s expedition notes which became best sellers for people migrating west to participate in the Gold Rush. She made several arduous trips with her children via the Isthmus of Panama to join her husband in California. She always offered advice and moral support to her husband. In her later years, she wrote her memoirs in order to support the family, which had lost money in the stock market
This book gives an excellent taste of California history both before and after the Gold Rush. John Charles Fremont’s activities in California during the Mexican-American War and the early days of statehood are recounted here. It also illustrates how the major issues of the time on the east coast (slavery and abolition) were very different from the concerns of California ranchers and other western settlers.