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Vanishing Arizona: A Young Wife of an Officer of the U.S. 8th Infantry in Apacheria During the 1870's

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  228 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
A lady, the desert, the army and the Apaches
This is the account of the life of a young army wife who followed her husband-a second lieutenant of infantry-after the turbulent years of the American Civil War, in which he had served, to what was considered the wildest and most remote of frontier outposts in the American south west. Life within the Army in Arizona came as som
Paperback, 232 pages
Published June 4th 2010 by Leonaur Ltd (first published 1908)
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Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
This superbly entertaining account of the adventures of the wife of a lieutenant in the army is a fast and absorbing read. Summerhayes was raised in Nantucket and partly educated in Germany so imagine her shock when she follows her husband to Wyoming and then Arizona during the Apache wars of the 1870's. As a sixth generation, native Arizonan I found this to be utterly fascinating!
Apr 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, maps
3.5, but Mrs. Summerhayes gets the "Beginner's Benefit."

Eye witness reporting of history is almost always better than second--and third--hand reporting. It's especially good when the reporter--Martha Summerhayes--puts enough of herself into her story that the reader gets to know her bents and inclinations. Some of her foibles are common to us all; some unique perhaps to well-raised eastern women of the nineteenth century.
Ann Kuhn
Nov 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not great writing but kudos for remembering and reflecting in such a detailed, valuable way and occasional moments of concise and spot on clarity of expression. As with all memoirs of this genre (female, white, prudish puritanical upbringing, heading west) the practicalities fraught with prudery is frustrating but genuine; her unresolved conflict between connection to the desert and constant hatred of it is fascinating. Reading between the lines is necessary. (Oh my god, she was PREGNANT while d ...more
J. Bryce
What a great addition to Western-American history! I cannot recommend this highly enough to those of you interested in the "life" part of the phrase "military life."

Mrs Summerhayes was married to a career officer in the Indian Wars-period Army, and was stationed in many different camps and forts in Arizona, and offers an outsiders' view of those places, and the methods of transportation between them all, in pre-railroad times. It should prove fascinating to anyone interested in the late 19th Cen
Jun 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-star
For we who live in AZ. this is pretty fascinating. It made me want to take a road trip to see all the places she lived as an army wife in the 1800's. Can you imagine sleeping outside in the summer because the tents and rude cabins were too hot and having to put hair around you to keep the snakes, spiders and scorpions away? Martha is a much better man than I am!!!
Jan 21, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Arizonians
Shelves: travel
Okay, it's travel for me, non-fiction or history for Sandy. Fascinating if you like books that allow you to picture how people lived in other times. Hard to imagine surviving Arizona summers not only without air-conditioners, but with corsets and petticoats. Yikes.
Chris Babcock
Jan 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arizona
Wonderful description of life as an army wife in mid to late 1800s in Arizona. Gives a good sense of how little there was but what beauty surrounded them.
May 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Army wives or people interested in the Old West
Recommended to Martha by: found it in the MI library
I will never complain about the heat down here again. Really enjoying this so far!
Jan 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the stories of early Arizona, though I don't care for the author; too much complaining!
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting non-fiction account of Army life in AZ during the 1870's. Having lived in AZ for about 40 years, it was fascinating to read about the harsh conditions and the desolation at the Army outposts. We recently visited Fort (Camp) Apache and so it was interesting to read about Martha's ordeal, as a new bride to a second lieutenant, living in that remote wilderness.
Clay Davis
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book! Could have trimmed that parts that were not about Arizona. Very strange how the author does not mention being pregnant. Great detail about life on the frontier.
Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating story of a young bride with her army husband and their experiences in Arizona during the late 18th century. She is a young woman who is totally unprepared for life in the 'wild' west. Her stories of traveling from camp to camp in Arizona and having to make a home in extremely harsh and primitive conditions is awe inspiring. Especially moving is when she has her first child, far from anyone who can help her . She is completely ignorant of childbirth and caring for a newborn. I couldn' ...more
george burns
Apr 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The heart of this book is the time Martha Summerhayes spent during the 1870s in Arizona as an army wife. Raised in comfortable circumstances on the East Coast, she was intelligent and educated, but unprepared for the harshness of life in Arizona. Bad food, extreme heat, discomfort and dangerous animals and people were all parts of her life. She sometimes despaired, but never quite gave up. She was a keen observer of all that she experienced. She recognized the problems caused by bad Indi
Jul 19, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one military wife's memories of time served in some brutal isolated country In the latter part of the 19th century. The traveling conditions were tough and I can't even imagine dealing with the heat, rats, rattlesnakes. And such. It was almost like a diary and was interesting to read. I have to say that it felt like the author was keenly aware that all the people in the book would likely read it so she was either a really really sweet person or she made sure she only said kind things abo ...more
Tommie C Sisco
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a Desert Rate

I'm a native of Arizona and am always interested in the history of my state. As I read the book several things were interesting. First, was how did people survive here in the late eighteen hundreds? Second, how did they get from place to place? Finally, do the places mentioned still exist and have I been there? All were answered. Additionally, the book gives an insight into how people lived long before modern technology made life much easier in the desert. I could actually envis
Jun 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a true story about a pampered New England young woman who falls in love with an army officer and they get sent to Arizona in 1873. Wow!! Talk about a brutal place. The story is her recollections of her 20 plus years as an armny wife and how Arizona changed over that time. The story is really well writen and gives a great look at the conditions before "civilazation" came here. She is not at all maudlain or bitter about her experience in fact she said it was great even though it was really ...more
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I applaud the author for taking the time to compose her experiences and recollections of her life in the then unknown territory of Arizona during the time of the brutal warring with the Apache Indians. She could have simply not taken the time or exertion required to publish this book and let her Arizona memories die along with her. I am grateful for this book and those willing to publish it, had it not been for them, the world would be missing a great bit of first hand Arizona Territory history.
a young woman from New England is sent to Europe for a couple of years to experience life with an uperclass/military family, and upon returning, marries a American military man just post civil war. This is way beyond roughing it, and it's a true story written at the request of the author's grandkids. If you are a mom who has had to make do, you will relate to Martha, and you will enjoy this book - it is amazing!
Darlene Jones
May 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Some how Martha Sommerhayes managed to bring an aura of romance to the harsh conditions she, her husband, and many others suffered. One of the most striking things that shines through is her fortitude and open mindedness. That this should come for a woman brought up in the comparative ease of New England makes it even more remarkable. Martha is a person one would want for a friend.
Cindy Peterson
Jan 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my second time reading this book, and I think I am enjoying it more the second time, as I don't have to rush it back to the library. Vanished Arizona was out of print for some time, and it is a pleasure to see it back.

I am a descendant of western settlers and I always enjoy reading about folks' experiences.
Jul 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that my husband read and really liked. He suggested it to me and I'm glad he did. It is NOT a book I would have picked up, but I really, really liked it. The true story of Martha S is interesting, it moves well and she doesn't include a lot of unnecessary detail. It was fun to hear about places in Az that I've driven thru, or places that I didn't even know existed.
Mar 04, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great glimpse into what a new wife faced in the 1870s as she joined her husband as he was transferred around the southwest....oh jeez. I will not complain about my living conditions, abundance of food, ease of travel and health is easy in comparison to what this woman endured. I'm not sure I would have been as tough and resilient.
Shawna Fox
Sep 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was a great story and full of historical information. Although I did find it a little mundane in some parts, overall it was very informative. I think it is a great read for anyone interested in history/military history.
Apr 17, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rocks
While Summerhayes' writing is not of the finest caliber, she strung together an entertaining set of anecdotes to demonstrate what a royal pain in the ass it was to be an Army wife in Arizona around the turn of the 20th century. You have my respect, Martha. Whew.
Jun 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVED this book; couldn't put it down. I cannot even begin to imagine the hardship of life in Arizona in the mid-1800's. Amazing! This is a true story written by an actual person. Her children urged her to write it; amazing!
Jan 25, 2011 rated it liked it
This book is great for a Native Arizona person. But if you can't relate the areas that she's talking about to what they are currently then you will lose interest quick. It was amazing how people survived Arizona living without ice or window covers.
Aug 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Interesting for those who are familiar with the heat and the desert of Arizona or involved in military life. Otherwise probably not a great read. It is a reminder of how writing styles and speech change over the decades; there is a great difference from today's vernacular.
Mar 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Arizona lovers
Shelves: arizona, nostalgia
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will read it again. Wonderful and truly a treat for those in love with the desert (but who also realize how terrible it is)
Insightful and interesting.
Lynn Lovegreen
Nonfiction--memoir of an Army wife posted in Arizona territory in the 1870s. Well-written, gives you a good idea of what Army life was like back then.
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American memoirist.

She was a Nantucket, Massachusetts native who later on in life immigrated to Arizona. A well travelled and educated woman, Summerhayes spent two years, from 1871 to 1873, studying literature in Germany. Her passion for writing took her into a career as a writer. She became well known as a writer in Massachusetts, but she usually did her writing during the winter, which, in turn,
More about Martha Summerhayes...