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Young bride’s honeymoon was a trying time


For The Madera Tribune

This portrait of Jennie Mace, taken circa 1900, reflects the strength of character that sustained her in her journey from the wilds of the hill country around O’Neals to civilized life in Madera.

 

Madera County was a proving ground for pioneers. No phase of the westward movement is missing from its history. The explorers, trappers, miners, ranchers, and farmers all marched into this area to play their roles in bringing the American frontier experience to a close. As they did so, some left such indelible marks that they will never be forgotten.


It is not surprising that of those early pioneers whose memories have been preserved, most are men. A recitation of the male dominance in 19th century politics and economics would only be a needless elaboration of the obvious. It was, at least on the surface, a man’s world.


The current focus, however, of the American frontier experience has broadened its scope, and the behind-the-scenes experiences of American pioneer women are attracting the interest of historians. What is being revealed is not surprising. Women played a role in taming the West far out of proportion to the recognition they have received, and one Madera County pioneer woman provides a perfect example, Jennie Cunningham Gilmore Mace.

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