Grandma Gatewood

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Early Life and Family Background:
– Born in Guyan Township, Gallia County, Ohio
– Raised in a large family with 15 children
– Father turned to drinking and gambling after losing his leg in the Civil War
– Mother took on the responsibility of child-rearing
– Limited formal education but self-taught in various subjects like wildlife, plants, and poetry

Marriage, Motherhood, and Overcoming Adversity:
– Married Perry Clayton (P. C.) Gatewood at 19
– Had 11 children with P. C.
– Experienced domestic violence and filed for divorce in 1940
– Became a single mother, working various jobs to support her family
– Overcame challenges and abuse to pursue her passion for hiking

Hiking Career and Achievements:
– Discovered the Appalachian Trail in the early 1950s
– Embarked on her first hike at 66, becoming a celebrity
– Completed the A.T. multiple times, first woman to do so
– Led hikes, cleared trails, and continued hiking into her eighties
– Acknowledged as the oldest female thru-hiker on the Appalachian Trail

National Recognition and Contributions to Hiking Community:
– Featured in newspapers, magazines, and TV programs
– Honored by U.S. Representative Thomas A. Jenkins in Congress
– Helped establish hiking trails and clubs
– Led annual hikes through Hocking Hills State Park
– Legacy includes completing a 30-mile trail in Gallia County, Ohio

Honors, Legacy, and Tributes:
– Received Ohio State Conservation Award and Governors Community Action Award
– Inducted into the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame in 2012
– Subject of documentaries, plays, and picture albums
– Inspiring tributes like the Gatewood Cape and the song ‘Grandma Gatewood’
– Commemorations include historical markers, a memorial trail, and various artistic retellings of her story

Grandma Gatewood (Wikipedia)

Emma Rowena (Caldwell) Gatewood, known as Grandma Gatewood, (October 25, 1887 – June 4, 1973), was an American ultra-light hiking pioneer. After a difficult life as a farm wife, mother of eleven children, and survivor of domestic violence, she became famous as the first solo female thru-hiker of the 2,168-mile (3,489 km) Appalachian Trail (A.T.) in 1955 at the age of 67. She subsequently became the first person (male or female) to hike the A.T. three times, after completing a second thru-hike two years later, followed by a section-hike in 1964. In the meantime, she hiked 2,000 miles (3,200 km) of the Oregon Trail in 1959. In her later years, she continued to travel and hike, and worked on a section of what would become the Buckeye Trail. The media coverage surrounding her feats was credited for generating interest in maintaining the A.T. and in hiking generally. Among many other honors, she was posthumously inducted into the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame in 2012.

Emma Rowena
"Grandma" Gatewood
Born(1887-10-25)October 25, 1887
DiedJune 4, 1973(1973-06-04) (aged 85)
Resting placeOhio Valley Memory Gardens
Years active1955 to 1973 (hiking)
Known forHiking the Appalachian Trail and the Oregon Trail
SpousePerry Clayton Gatewood [m. May 5, 1907, divorced February 6, 1941]
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