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Vanished Arizona: Recollections of the Army Life of a New England Woman
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0803291051, Paperback)
In 1874, when Martha Summerhayes came as a bride to Fort Russell in Wyoming Territory, she "saw not much in those first few days besides bright buttons, blue uniforms, and shining swords," but soon enough the hard facts of army life began to intrude. Remonstrating with her husband, Jack, that she had only three rooms and a kitchen instead of "a whole house," she was informed that "women are not reckoned in at all in the War Department," which also failed to appreciate that "'lieutenants' wives needed quite as much as colonels’ wives." In fact, Martha had only a short time to enjoy her new quarters, for in June her husband’s regiment was ordered to Arizona, "that dreaded and then unknown land."
Although Martha Summerhayes’s recollections span a quarter of a century and life at a dozen army posts, the heart of this book concerns her experiences during the 1870s in Arizona, where (as Dan L. Thrapp observes in his introduction) the harsh climate and "perennial natural inconveniences from rattlesnakes to cactus thorns and white desperadoes, all made [it] a less than desirable posting for the married man and his wife." First privately printed in 1908, Vanished Arizona was so well-received that in 1910 Mrs. Summerhayes prepared a new edition (reprinted here), which was published in 1911, the year of her death. Among "the essential primary records of the frontier-military West," the book "retains its place securely because of the narrative skill of the author, her delight in life—all life, including even, or perhaps principally, army life and people—and because it is such a joy to read.
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:52 -0400)
The stalwart men of the Prussian army, the Lancers, the Dragoons, the Hussars, the clank of their sabres on the pavements, their brilliant uniforms, all made an impression upon my romantic mind, and I listened eagerly, in the quiet evenings, to tales of Hanover under King George, to stories of battles lost, and the entry of the Prussians into the old Residenz-stadt; the flight of the King, and the sorrow and chagrin which prevailed. For I was living in the family of General Weste, the former stadt-commandant of Hanover, who had served fifty years in the army and had accompanied King George on his exit from the city. He was a gallant veteran, with the rank of General-Lieutenant, ausser Dienst. A charming and dignified man, accepting philosophically the fact that Hanover had become Prussian, but loyal in his heart to his King and to old Hanover; pretending great wrath when, on the King's birthday, he found yellow and white sand strewn before his door, but unable to conceal the joyful gleam in his eye when he spoke of it. The General's wife was the daughter of a burgomaster and had been brought up in a neighboring town. She was a dear, kind soul. The house-keeping was simple, but stately and precise, as befitted the rank of this officer. The General was addressed by the servants as Excellenz and his wife as Frau Excellenz. A charming unmarried daughter lived at home, making, with myself, a family of four. Life was spent quietly, and every evening, after our coffee (served in the living-room in winter, and in the garden in summer), Frau Generalin would amuse me with descriptions of life in her old home, and of how girls were brought up in her day; how industry was esteemed by her mother the greatest virtue, and idleness was punished as the most beguiling sin. She was never allowed, she said, to read, even on Sunday, without her knitting-work in her hands; and she would often sigh, and say to me, in German (for dear Frau Generalin spoke no other tongue), Ach, Martha, you American girls are so differently brought up; and I would say, But, Frau Generalin, which way do you think is the better? She would then look puzzled, shrug her shoulders, and often say, Ach! times are different I suppose, but my ideas can never change.
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