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I have spent the last months doing extensive research on Emma’s life. I have learned more about her family (especially her siblings); have found a letter in the Library of Congress from her to Carl Schurz, the Secretary of the Interior: see his reply to her); believe she befriended a famous Native American woman who was lecturing in San Francisco; have discovered she used several different names; found out she was fired from her job at the Women’s Pavilion and replaced by a Philadelphia woman; found out that she called herself a journalist until her incarceration in a mental hospital in California; learned she may have raised greyhound dogs; obtained her death certificate. I will be traveling to California next month to visit her grave site and see if there is any information about her at the mental hospital.

A Letter from Emma?

CONFIRMED: This is a response to a letter from Emma. I have seen her letter in Carl Schurz’s papers in the Library of Congress. The signature on it matches one she used to sign Aime Marchand’s citizenship papers.

UPDATE: There is a newspaper article about Sarah Winnemucca in a San Francisco newspaper, possibly by Emma?

I just ran across a reference to a letter from a “Miss Emma Allison” sent to the Secretary of the Interior, Carl Schurz, in 1880. Schurz is thanking this Emma Allison for bring some information about Native Americans to his attention. Did Emma, in her capacity as a writer for the Daily Graphic in New York (still speculative) or in her work as a copyist in the office of the U.S. Surveyor-General in San Francisco (also speculative, but very likely) lead her to write this letter? The letter itself is not yet available but may be among Schurz’s papers which I will search next. More intrigue…here is Schurz’s response to her:


The Chief Winnemucca mentioned here was a famous leader of the Norther Paiute. The Malheur reservation was established for the Paiutes but was abandoned during their battles with the U.S. government and was then returned to non-Indian control.

The next letter that is available in Schurz’s record of correspondences as Secretary of the Interior (see volume 3, page 501) is one to the famous author Helen Hunt Jackson who would write Ramona in 1884,  a sympathetic novel about Native Americans. The letter to Jackson is also about Native Americans. Was there some connection between the women?

The search goes on…