Emma Elizabeth Lewis Edited by James Riedl
A Dakota Woman
In 1886, seventeen-year-old mother Emma Lewis left her parents’ home in Indiana and took a train west to the Dakota Territory. She was to join her husband, James, and start her new life as a married woman. With a mixture of excitement and sadness, she looked to the future that lay before her . . .
October came in exceedingly hot and dry. Clouds of grasshoppers whirred over the plains, a desolate sight. Charley and Jim left for a few days to get supplies. Emma and the girls sat on the shady side of the house where she was teaching them to crochet. She noticed the acrid odor of smoke. The odor deepened rapidly and the sun turned a bright orange. It then turned a deep ruby red and disappeared into a gloom of hellish smoke swirls. Suddenly, it was night. The little girls were the first to realize the horrible truth, “Oh, Aunt Emma, the prairie’s on fire!”
They looked back only once to see the flames lapping up their lovely home. On and on they ran, choked by the smoke, and constantly slapping out the bits of burning grass that caught onto their clothing and hair. Emma was in no condition to carry her child any further. She was completely exhausted and ready to give up . . .
A Dakota Woman is a true account of life on the Dakota prairie. Written by Emma Elizabeth Lewis, it documents one family’s hopes, dreams, sorrows, and adventures. From tales of prairie fires to meeting Thomas Edison, A Dakota Woman gives an accurate look into life on the prairie in the late 1800s.