Date of Award

Spring 2015

Degree Type

Honors Project


College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Susie Steinbach


Mary Jane Folsom’s life in the St. Croix River Valley demonstrates the previously uninvestigated complexities of life on the American Frontier in the nineteenth century. Previous scholars of the Frontier have all assumed the traditional East to West model of movement, but this model fails to recognize the many directions people took to reach their final destinations or the influences they brought with them. Before further research is conducted on the American Frontier, scholars must answer the question of how people, objects, and ideas actually travelled through the Frontier. This paper uses Mary Jane’s correspondence with her family to investigate this question. Her letters show that although there was a larger East to West wave, movement actually occurred in all directions, and although she lived far from her family in the East and in the far West, Mary Jane was able to influence and be influenced by her family, complicating how scholars study and interpret influences on the American Frontier.