American Women's Diaries (Western Women) [Microfilm]
New Canaan, Conn.
Readex Film Products
Reel 15, UTHS0293
Published between 1988-1991.
January 4, 1851 to March 22, 1853. Baker sails from Liverpool to America on the George W. Bourne in January 1851 with her children. She describes daily life at sea, seasickness, and the death of her youngest son. She lands in New Orleans where she stops to visit a friend and tour the city. Baker offers detailed descriptions of the city, its customs, the slave market, and the plantations outside New Orleans. Sailing up the Mississippi River on the steamship Concordia, she winters in St. Louis where she provides a description of her home and her thoughts on religion in the region, particularly Catholicism. Baker also writes about adjusting to the American climate. She continues on her journey, sailing to Alexandria, Illinois, and then traveling by wagon to Utah in the John Brown Company in 1851. She describes a challenging journey, as she has difficulty learning to drive a team, weathers storms, and acts as a nurse/midwife for the group. Baker often stops to visit farmers, and her company joins with a group bound for Oregon. She mentions the difficulty of descending Emigration Canyon, before arriving in Salt Lake. She buys a house, visits local hot springs, and celebrates Christmas. At the end of the diary, Baker moves to Ogden, Utah. September 26, 1869 to May 8, 1880. Baker reviews the difficulty of the last eighteen years, describing them as a bubble that has burst in my grasp. She has lost her faith, her money, and her second husband. Baker decides to visit her sons in California. Arriving in San Francisco, she meets her daughter-in-law for the first time. She stays in a boarding house to nurse an ailing companion. He dies, and Baker and her sons take care of the arrangements, shipping his body home and comforting his widow. Her sons encourage her to stay in California, but Baker wavers until her daughter and grandchildren move to California, making the family complete. She agrees to stay, but begins working a dressmaker to avoid being a burden. An 1880 post-script fills in the last five years, particularly a trip to Utah to visit old friends.