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Alice K. Grierson (1828–1888)

Author of An Army Wife's Cookbook

Includes the names: Alice Kirk Grierson

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Alice Kirk, born in Ohio, was the oldest in a family of 13 children. After graduating from the Huron Academy in Milam, Ohio, she taught school in her hometown of Youngstown, as well as in Lafayette, Indiana, and Springfield, Illinois. In 1854, despite her father's objections, she married Benjamin Henry Grierson, a musician and band leader with whom she had 7 children, 4 of whom survived. He joined the Union Army during the U.S. Civil War and served with the Sixth Illinois Cavalry. Grierson's successful exploits during the war enabled him to rise through the ranks to become a Major General. After the war, Alice Kirk Grierson encouraged her husband to accept the command of the Tenth Cavalry, known as the ""Buffalo Soldiers," one of two newly formed mounted regiments composed of black enlisted men and white officers. The assignment took them to Fort Riley, Kansas, and Fort Sill, one of the forts on the Southern Plains in Oklahoma built during the Indian Wars. Alice had to leave her older sons behind with relatives to attend school, and gave birth to her younger children on the frontier. In 1871, her seventh child died at age three months. Alice suffered from depression over her frequent pregnancies, the loss of her infant, and her separation from the eldest. She went to Chicago to regain her mental health. However, she returned to the frontier, and endured a transfer to Fort Concho, a dilapidated, remote post on the High Plains of West Texas. The seven years at Fort Concho brought several calamities to Alice's family. Among them were the loss of her 13-year-old daughter Edith Clare, to typhoid fever, and mental illness in her other children. In 1882, the Tenth Cavalry moved to Fort Davis, in a ruggedly beautiful region of Texas. The Griersons acquired land for ranches for their younger sons and planned to make Fort Davis their permanent home. To their disappointment, however, the Apache Wars required the Tenth Cavalry's move to the Arizona Territory. In 1886, Col. Grierson became commander of the District of New Mexico, and the family moved to Santa Fe. Alice was suffering from a persistent lameness and went back east for treatment. In 1888, she died at age 60 of bone cancer and was buried in Jacksonville, Illinois. Alice Kirk Grierson left behind a remarkably frank correspondence describing her life and experiences as a frontier army wife, mother, and pioneer that was published as The Colonel's Lady on the Western Frontier. A cookbook containing her recipes is still in print.
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