These pioneering reminiscences of my mother deal with a phase of western history that usually has been overlooked by the historian and biographer.
She was an immigrant; but, unlike the immigrant of the average book, she neither landed at New York, nor any other eastern port. She landed at New Orleans in the half-forgotten 1850's, when that Missippi harbor was white with sails of ships bringing throngs to populate the Great Valley.
She was a pioneer but not the type whose tales crowd the libraries. She went to the prairies with those who were bold enough to believe that corn would grow on broken sod as well as in a timber clearing and who led the way into the Great American Desert, now the Great American Breadbasket.
I have written this narrative largely in Mother's own words, so that it would be a first-hand account of this glamorous period. I merely have arranged the sequence and have verified dates and other matters of record by reference to personal letters, diaries, and documents in her possession.
Mother was born at Courrendlin, Canton Bern, Switzerland, June 21, 1842. Soon after that her family moved to the dairy farm on the southern slope of Montagne d'Orvin, or in English, Mount Bear Went, where this narrative begins.