Meet Carrie Strahorn from Jane Kirkpatrick’s Everything She Didn’t Say

Everything She Didn't Say-Book CoverName:  Carrie Adell Green Strahorn

Parents: Dr. John W and Louisa Babcock Green

Siblings:  Mary Green Waters (older); Hattie Green

Places lived: Too many to mention!  Born in Marengo, IL.  We did have permanent homes for only short times in Omaha, NE; Caldwell, ID and Spokane, WA. But we lived in Denver, Bellingham, San Francisco, Butte, Cheyenne, etc.

Jobs: companion of railroad promoting husband traveling the west to identify locations for the Union Pacific Railroad to bring their tracks to. I wrote articles/letters for newspapers back east and had a pen name of A.Stray.  That’s a story in itself, don’t you think? I also helped start a Presbyterian church which was the work of my life.

Friends: My husband Robert and my sisters are my closest friends. It’s very hard to have long-term friendships when one travels all over the west by stage and train. Friendships take time and commitment. I am committed to helping my husband in his efforts.

Enemies: I don’t have any unless you identify some of the town fathers who disliked my husband because the railroad didn’t come to their town. I’m also my own worst enemy – my self-doubt desire not to disappoint Robert. I always go along with what he wants and that isn’t always wise.

Dating, marriage: Graduate of University of Michigan in the 1870s; I didn’t date much being busy with my singing. I traveled to Europe on tour. I met Robert as he was the fiancé of my college roommate who shared my name. When she died before their marriage, Robert and I found each other ut he called me Dell after that, perhaps not wanting to use the first Carrie’s name. We were married September 19, 1877.

Children: none though in later life I claimed the sons of our chauffer as my own on the census. Actually, the census recorder got it wrong but I let it stand. I adored them. And I almost adopted a set of twins Kate and Kambree — but Robert didn’t want that to happen, said it would be too difficult with our traveling life.

What person do you most admire? I admire Pace Caldwell. She’s the wife of former senator Caldwell who was removed from the senate because he bribed a competitor not to run so he could win. He lived in Kansas. Pace held herhead up high, continued to love and support her husband. She kept her dignity. That was admirable and I called upon that when Robert had his own financial fall. Pace kept getting up and starting again despite disappointments and betrayals.

Overall outlook on life: I live in a “happy lane” and see the adventure of  life as unique and full of grace. I want to celebrate it, downplay any personal disappointments. Presbyterians have a phrase about “seeing a way clear” that means we believe God has shown us a way forward, that we can “see our way clear.” I look for that.

Do you like yourself? Most of the time. I’m a bit overweight but it’s those rich dinners when we’re having to dine the bankers and politicians that Robert must engage with in his railroad promotion. I’d like myself better as a mother so I did find some ways in later life to be a surrogate mother to some college girls. And I adore my nieces. I like myself best when I’m with my sisters and my family.

What, if anything, would you like to change about your life? Oh, I wish I’d insisted about the twins we could have adopted. We could have adjusted our traveling; in later life I stayed at home more anyway. So yes, I would have become a mother.

How are you viewed by others? They admire me, I know. Especially after the book came out, my memoir called Fifteen Thousand Miles by Stage in two volumes covering 1877-1880 and 1880-1898. Some people said I was a better writer than Robert. I think I was more conversational. He had to write reports on soil conditions, landscapes, rail line routes, stuffier things. I wrote about people and I never complained. I never named someone in a story who had a negative role to play. I hosted wonderful parties and made people feel welcome and when I set my heart on something – like getting a Presbyterian church for Caldwell – I persevered. People admired my persistence and some said my grace in times of trial.

Physical appearance: I’m 5’5”, a tad overweight. Curvy, I’d call it.

Eyes: blue

Hair: frizzy chestnut color

Voice: melodious. I’m a singer

Right- or left-handed? right

How would you describe yourself? I’m a Victorian lady who wears my long skirts, corset, bustle, and a hat, usually straw with feathers and dried fruit as decorations when I’m out in public. But I’ll ride astride a horse (with a discreet skirt to put on over the split one as soon as I step off the horse). I have a pleasant voice, wear round glasses that are often dirty as I’m so busy engaging in life I doesn’t notice. I adore my husband, have a wry sense of humor, long for the roots of home and children and am grateful for the adventurous life God’s given me.

Characteristics: Strong-willed, people pleaser, passionate, will try anything once. Loving of family and my close friends.

Strongest/weakest character traits: Never quite once I’m committed; try to please people at my own expense.

How much self-control do you have? Lots.

Fears: Not being useful, not finding my life’s purpose

Collections, talents: I can sing and do in choirs of the west when we stay in a town for a few months. I collect treasures from some of our adventures like being the first woman to go into a gold mine. I saved a piece of ore.

What people like best about you: I’m game for anything. Once.

Interests and favorites: I love to read, that’s my greatest pastime when I’m not off on some adventure like riding on the cow chaser of a railroad engine over the Dale Creek Canyon. I’m also drawn to landscapes – the oceans, mountains, rivers and lakes of the West.

Food, drink: I don’t imbibe though have twice tasted champagne . Once when my memoir was published and another sip when we took our 6 month tour of Europe.

Books: Emily Dickinson’s poetry

Best way to spend a weekend: With Robert riding horseback in the mountains

What would a  great gift for you be? Diamonds. I do like diamonds.

When are you happy? When my sisters and parents come west to visit and I can show them the landscapes that I love.

What makes you angry? Seeing children suffering. And when Robert misled our friends in an investment. I was very angry about that.

What makes you sad? Not having a grandchild.

What makes you laugh? My dogs! Bulldogs are so funny!

Hopes and dreams: To be remembered as a generous, loving person.

What’s the worst thing you have ever done to someone and why? Getting my husband on that cow chaser. He didn’t enjoy it one bit!

Greatest success: Convincing a pastor we’d called Caldwell to stay when he at first said he didn’t think he was up to the task. He was and he did.

Biggest trauma: Dealing with closed in spaces.

What do you care about most in the world? That children be treated with dignity and respect and loved by their parents.

Do you have a secret? I don’t always tell my husband what I’m thinking.

What do you like best about the other main characters in your book? They’re kind and generous people

What do you like least about the other main characters in your book? That I don’t get to see them more often.

If you could do one thing and succeed at it, what would it be: I did it already. I wrote a memoir celebrating the west.

Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you: Humiliating thing? Having to escape at night across Puget Sound in a borrowed wooden boat because my husband had misled investors. We had to borrow money for the stage. Worst. Night. Ever.

Thank you, Carrie, for visiting with us here on PASTimes. We’ve learned a lot about you!

Jane Kirkpatrickis the New York Times and CBA bestselling and award-winning author of more than thirty books, including All She Left Behind,A Light in the Wilderness,The Memory Weaver,This Road We Traveled,and A Sweetness to the Soul,which won the prestigious Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Center. Her works have won the WILLA Literary Award, USABestBooks, the Carol Award for Historical Fiction, and the 2016 Will Rogers Medallion Award. Jane lives in Central Oregonwith her husband, Jerry. Learn more at www.jkbooks.com.

Kirkpatrick_Jane

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