Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1836-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the
National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress. external link Learn more
Image provided by: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL
Newspaper Page Text
"WE DIDN'T TANGO OURSELVES TO DEATH,"
SAYS GRANDMA WHO FOUGHT INDIANS
She's 82 Now and Can Tell Wonderful Stories of Ad
venture and Fighting When She Crossed the Plains
63 Years Ago As a Bride She Bluffed an
Indian Chief and 2,000 Braves.
Copperopolis, Cal., April 3. "We
feared God and fought beside the
men we women who crossed the
plains to help win the West-.
"Nowadays too many women scoff
at the One 'and quarrel with the
others. No wonder the search for
happiness is getting stem and all too
N "Grannie" Martha Burnham, 82,
pioneer on the Mother Lode and one
of the most Tomantic of surviving
figures of '49, sat on the stoop of her
mountain cabin and told me what it
meant to fight "beside the men" for
the settlement of California.
"I was 19 when my husband lifted
me into the wagon and turned the
faces of the horses westward from
Arkansas," she said. "He asked me
if I was afraid, and I told him 'No.'
"A few weeks later the test came.
A band of 2,000 murdering Arapahoe
Indians had surrounded our advance
company of 100. I and another girl
were the only women in the party.
"Their chief, a blackr.ugly fellow,
rode up to where we had thrown our
wagons in a defensive circle and com
manded us to surrender everything
we had,, including horses, or he would
release the blood-lusty band upon us.
" 'You want save your women,'
said the old chief to our men when
they hesitated. 'You men not like see
what we do to 'em,' he leered with
horrible suggestion." '
"Grannie" Burnham's black eyes
flashed in memory of that crucial "mo
ment and her wrinkled hands were
"Up to that time I had. always fear
ed Indians," she resumed, "but sud
denly something bigger than fear
gripped me. I saw '.my duty to my
race as well as my position as a wo
man there with my husband and the
other brave men.
"I yelled at that chief t,o bring on
his warriors. And I asked our Doys
"Grandma" Martha Burnham.
to give me a gun. 'I'll stand and
fight with the men,' I told that leering
Arapahoe, 'I'll take my fate with the
"And do you know," she said, "we
two women bluffed that vjhole band
of murdering devils. For two days
they followed us, afrai dto strike, and
then the main party of our caravan
PJfWl fcMlll'Hi'n'MI1"! ''ITIII I III 1 il' HI' ' '! 11"T "' " i A3