Robert & Carrie Strahorn: A Pioneering Couple
Carrie Adell Strahorn
Robert and Carrie Adell Green Strahorn are true pioneers of the west. Carrie Adell Strahorn (1854-1925), and her husband Robert Edmund Strahorn (1852-1944) were early explorers of the American Far West after the American Civil War. The couple was prolific published authors of books, magazine articles and pamphlets during the late 1870s through 1911 describing the natural wonders, commercial activity, transcontinental railroad expansion, and Native Americans encountered over many years in this huge region during the last quarter of the 19th Century. Very late in life, Robert wrote and completed an autobiography, “Ninety Years of Boyhood” (1942) which was never published.
Robert Strahorn married Carrie Adell “Dell” Green on September 19, 1877, just after publication of his first great book and just before the Union Pacific Railroad approached him with a fascinating proposition in which he would (eventually) travel all through the American West for over three decades learning and writing about what he found. Carrie Adell Green was a refined young woman, one of the first university women, and an early feminist who insisted that her oath to “obey” her husband be struck from her vows in the wedding ceremony. In answer to the Union Pacific proposition, the newly-wed couple had only one, non-negotiable, condition that they insisted upon: his wife Carrie Adell would go with him.
Carrie Adell Strahorn, or “Dell”, was a very well-educated writer in her own right who frequently sent articles to American magazines from remote places during her journeys in the American West. She was a very personable and charming author to follow, and she very amusingly describes incidents in her writings such as her first experience with an electric lamp and the attempts of a Native American Chief to purchase her from Robert for a quantity of horses and blankets. She is especially remembered as the author of her two volume “Fifteen Thousand Miles by Stage” (1911) memoirs which contain historically precious and irreplaceable first-hand observations of such things as stage coach travel, early environmental concerns, and the struggle of American pioneer women in the very Wild West. Carrie was the first white woman to see and experience many of the wonders of the West.
The Strahorns made their permanent home in Spokane, Washington in 1898. Carrie Adell Strahorn was a member of the Esther Reed Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution. In 1970, a new chapter of the DAR was organized in Spokane specifically to honor Carrie. Regrettably, the proposed chapter’s name was amended to the name of her patriot ancestor, Jonas Babcock – but her memory is still cherished in the chapter as their true namesake. Robert also had a patriot in the Revolutionary War. Carrie was honored with two historical libraries in Marengo, Illinois, (1930-1992), and Caldwell, Idaho, (1926-1967), which perpetuated their memories and contained many artifacts of their travels and copies of their writings. The library in Marengo is now also a railroad museum. The couple were known as great philanthropists, founding towns in Idaho as well as several churches and educational institutions. They were also very active in religious welfare work.