In 1841, Nancy Kelsey set out from Missouri with her husband, Ben, on a trek to the California Territory. An Ordinary Woman is the fictionalized account of her journey. Taken from diaries and letters written by Nancy and others on her wagon train, the author Cecelia Holland tells of the dangerous trip and Nancy's subsequent life in California. On the trail, Nancy crosses the Great Plains, the Rockies, and the High Sierra. Along the way she endures illness, hunger, fear, death and even the scalping and death of her daughter. In California, she and her husband are involved in shaping the territory's future. When California secedes from Mexico, the Kelsey's join the Bear Flag Rebellion against the Spanish Dons. After Nancy's husband dies, she settles in the San Joaquin Valley and lives to an old age. Clearly, this was no "ordinary woman."
Nancy Kelsey's story is awe-inspiring when the reader realizes what she had to endure. She would almost seem unbelievable if historically these events had not really happened.
Reviewed by sc, 7/99. Other reviews by sc.