Nannie Alderson wrote a book in the 1940's, with help from Helena Huntington Smith, relating her days as a child and young woman in Virginia [now WV] and later as a wife and mother in Montana. "A Bride Goes West" is considered a classic example of pioneer life in Montana, especially for a woman. The excerpts below are from my personal copy; they give some basic facts about Nannie's life that may be of interest to anyone wanting to know her family history.
"I was born in the village of Union, West Virginia, on September 14, 1860. My father, Captain Hugh Tiffany of Monroe County, West Virginia, or Virginia as it was then, was killed at the beginning of the First Battle of Manassas, and was said to be the first southern officer who fell in the war. He was a young lawyer not quite twenty-seven years old when the war came...the village gave a banquet for them the night before they left, and a small silk Confederate flag, which the ladies of the village had made, was presented to them on the occasion...long afterwards it went with me to Montana, where it was one of the few things saved when my house was burned by Indians [two hours after the birth of her first child]...Mother married again before I was four...She was married in riding clothes because she was to ride to her new home. It seemed to me that one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen was the black velvet turban with two pearl pins in it, which rested on her light, golden-brown hair...[she eventually went to visit her mother in her new home, five miles distant]...After staying a few days I was taken back to Union to live with my grandmother...for years afterward my mother had me only for visits in the summertime...My stepfather, Colonel Rowan, was a good many years older than she, and was in politics. I know he served in the Confederate legislature all during the war. Through him I acquired a family consisting of a stepbrother and two stepsisters older than I, with whom I played on those summer visits to the plantation...[she mentions Andrew Rowan and Betty Rowan, 18 months older]...Mother, though was a southern lady of the floweriest tradition...She also used rouge--though southern society considered rouged cheeks the hallmark of a fast woman." Nannie mentions her father's sister, Elizabeth Tiffany Symms, who pioneer in Atchison, Kansas, in the 1850's. She visited her aunt in Kansas where living was much more informal than the South. It was in Kansas she first met her future husband in June of 1877 at the age of 16. Walt Alderson, who had run away from home to Texas about the age of 12 or 13, had returned one evening to visit his family father was a Baptist preacher; the Aldersons originated near Nannie's home in Union in a town named Alderson WV. By age 17, back again to visit in Kansas, Nannie stayed for four years this time. They became acquainted at last sitting by the bedside of Walt's father, who was very ill. "He was already planning to go out and start a cattle ranch in Montana, and he asked me if I would be afraid to share that kind of life with him. I told him I wasn't afraid, and we became engaged soon after his father died...I made my own trousseau...I did have sense enough to make my underthings plain according to the standards of the day--so they had some pretense and suitability to the life I was planning to lead. When I first arrived in Atchison, my petticoats were like mother's--a mass of lace, and frills upon frills. Auntie explained that this made too much ironing for one servant, and she taught me to make simpler ones...Mother though them dreadfully plain...I made my own wedding dress of white embroidered mull, and I earned the money to buy my wedding veil. After their marriage in 1883, Nannie traveled to Montana to a ranch "near the mouth of Lame Deer Creek where it runs into the Rosebud, some sixty miles above the place where the Rosebud joints the Yellowstone. Crook had fought the Indians on the Rosebud only six years before, and Custer had marched up it, to cross over the divide and be slaughtered with all his command at the battle of the Little Big Horn. I had read about all this when it happened, and had seen a picture of Custer with his long yellow hair in one of our Southern papers, when I was just a young girl. I had been terribly and painfully impressed, never dreaming that I should some day live so near the battlefield, even visit it, and walk on ground that had been stained by his blood." wedding dresses for older brides second weddings
"I went with romantic ideas of being a helpmeet to a man in a new country, but I was sadly ill-equipped when it came to carrying them out. Before I left Union a dear old lady had taught me how to make hot rolls, but except for that one accomplishment I knew no more of cooking than I did of Greek...my whole equipment for conquering the West."
Nannie went on to become a mother of four and a widow in the 1890's when her husband was kicked in the head by a horse in Miles City MT.
Her richly-detailed life story is a real treat to read. The book can be Googled and read in its entirety online.