Mary McNair Mathews' memoir, "Ten Years in Nevada or Life on the Pacific Coast," established her as an early chronicler of life in Virginia City, Nevada. Mary McNair Mathews, born in western New York in 1834 was a young widow whose brother died in Virginia City in 1869. Seeking to comfort her extremely distraught mother, Mary sold her hoop skirt business, packed up her little boy, Charlie, and headed west to look into the events surrounding her brother's death and the condition of his estate. What was intended to be a short investigative errand, turned out to be a sojourn of almost ten years. These memoirs relate how she worked various jobs to support herself and her son in an honorable and respectable manner. She did very well, considering she was living in the man’s world of the nineteenth century.
Mathews came to own and operate a boarding house, ran a school from her home, nursed the sick, took in laundry and sewing, wrote letters for pay, and babysat. She also became a campaigner in local temperance movement, and, with her friend Rachel Beck, ran a soup kitchen during the hard times that hit in 1877.
The modern reader, while admiring the spunk and initiative of Mary Matthews must keep in mind that she was a woman of the attitudes of the nineteenth century toward Chinese, Native Americans, and Jews. She cared little for attorneys and railroad conductors. At the same time, she exhibited qualities of kindness, generosity, and caring to all in need. In 1878 she returned to her native New York and published her memoirs of life out west (1880). Following the publication of her book, she went back out west in order to be with her son, who had remained there. She died in Ukiah, California, in 1903. This is a very helpful book for women's studies, and sociological studies and is at the same time very entertaining. The narrative is rich, revealing, and sometimes shocking to the modern reader, but it is never dull.
|Publisher:||Gary L Roper|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||285 KB|
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