Lydia Spencer Lane ( - ) is one of only a few women who have written about her life as an Army wife. She lived throughout the isolated southwestern frontier, and through her eyes we receive an education of the charms and challenges of life at an Army Camp in the 1800s. For sixteen years, Lydia crossed the Great Plains by wagon seven times, traveled 8,000 miles, raised three children, and became accustomed to tours of duty that required the family to move at least every six months to a different set of frontier military forts, across New Mexico and Texas.
At the time Lydia Spencer married Lt. William Bartlett Lane in May of 1854 in Carlisle Pennsylvania, the southwest was part of the U.S. for less than a decade. Among one of the most prominent symbols of Western life were the Army Forts, erected to protect the citizens from Indian deprivations. Travel was exceedingly dangerous for the unwary. New Mexico and Texas were thinly populated in small Hispanic settlements along the Rio Grande, and other fertile rivers and streams. Only six Anglo American women had arrived in Santa Fe by 1853. Lydia Lane arrived in Santa Fe only three years later, and was one of the first to experience military life out west.
From 1854-1870, Lydia recounts that her experiences "were not all together unpleasant," although she was one of only a handful of women at each post of duty, and was constantly on the lookout for Indians as she traveled. The Lanes would live at Fort Union several times, at Fort Stanton in 1848, Fort Bliss in El Paso Texas, and Fort Craig just south of Socorro, New Mexico, to name a few. In 1861 Lt. Lane took command of Fort Fillmore, twenty miles from the Texas-New Mexico border during a most uneasy period of divided loyalties, the American Civil War. There would be future skirmishes and battles in New Mexico that would decide whether the West would become Union or Confederate! It would be during the year of 1870 that Lydia would finally write: "Colonel Lane was retired from active service to my great grief."
Through the eyes of Lydia Spencer Lane you will travel from one Military Post to another, and relive one woman's determination to live with ingenuity no matter where her life's duty took her!