Annie Wilkins, Who Was She?
Farmer Annie Wilkins, age 63, is from Maine. She set out on the most challenging journey of her life in 1954.
She was single at the time due to the fact that she had experienced two unsuccessful marriages, her brother and father had just passed away, she was in financial ruin, and she had even lost her farm.
Despite this, her doctor stated that she had a two-year life expectancy due to her recently improved pneumonia condition.
However, she had a dream that she would go to the Pacific Ocean before dying. She also wanted to travel to the Pacific Ocean when her mother was still living. But her mother passed away before that.
She ignored her doctor’s advice to go to a government charity. In order to raise money for her cross-country trip, she sold her homemade pickles and took out a mortgage on her home.
She later invested in a neglected brown horse named Tarzan, dressed in men’s dungarees, and left for the south in mid-November in an effort to avoid the snow.
Anyhow, she started that brave journey. Annie was lost beyond the rural crossroads and didn’t even have a map for the journey. She still had her own pot and running horse, though, and she was firm in her idea that Americans would be kind to a foreigner like her.
She encountered both regular people and country celebrities along the trip, including Groucho Marx, Art Linkletter, and Andrew White (the Tarzan sketch).
She was showered with gifts and offered a permanent residence in a riding school in New Jersey by generous Americans. Even a farmer from Wyoming proposed to her for marriage, and she landed a job at a petrol station in rural Kentucky.
The influence of television was swiftly growing, America was rapidly developing, and homeowners had become accustomed to frequent trips.
Car ownership in the nation tripled during this decade. In a time when the world was changing so swiftly, Annie and her coworkers gave their neighbors hope.
When well-known Chadds Ford and Maine resident Andrew Wyeth visited Annie Wilkins and her horse, they shared a drink to celebrate. Annie Wilkins was an elderly woman. Throughout her journey, she was able to gain a lot of these unique experiences.
Annie Wilkins had written about her journey to a friend in Minot. She claimed to have brought along an extra horse and her favorite dog, and while she was in Waverley, Tennessee, she wrote to a friend about her experiences staying in hotels and prisons while traveling.
She also said that the people she encountered along the way were incredibly nice and generous. She proudly wrote about her new life as a “tramp of fate” as well.
Annie was frequently given police protection when visiting several cities as word of her fantastic journey went across the country. Journalists found her and visited her in her parking lot to conduct an interview.
She was interviewed on two radio and television stations in Missouri in May 1955, and she also visited a nearby school to speak about her journey, according to letters she wrote to her friend at the time. She raised money for her expenditures while on the trip by selling self-portraits and postcards.
Her writings claim that she moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming, in August 1955. There, she witnessed the annual Frontier Days, a long-running celebration that claims to be one of the biggest rodeos in the world.
Wilkins, Tarzan, Rex, and Depeche-Toi shook their way through Idaho on that journey, navigating freezing mountains, dodging deadly snakes, and surviving flash floods.
She arrived at her destination in December 1956. She reportedly reflected on herself and wondered what people in Minot would think of her upon her return, according to publications describing her trip back home. She said, “I wonder if I’ll ever see Minot again.” “I want to know if many people believe I’m really crazy out there.”.
After almost two years of travel, Annie Wilkins arrived in Reading, California, in the middle of December.
She got to experience winter there, and while she was still in California, she traveled to different parts of the state and saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time. She said it was the most remarkable experience of her life.
But on March 1, 1956, her packhorse Rex passed away from tetanus before she could travel south to Hollywood, where she intended to go to Art Linkletter’s house party.
What Happened To Annie Wilkins?
After remaining in California for an additional year, Annie Wilkins ultimately made her way back to Maine in 1957. After successfully completing her dream journey, she relocated from Minot to Whitefield in Lincoln County, where she lived out the remainder of her days.
Annie Wilkins kept a notebook detailing every aspect of her journeys, and in the middle of the 1960s, she collaborated with writer Mina Titus Sawyer to publish a book detailing her experiences. The title “The Last of the Saddle Tramps” was given to it in 1967.
When she developed pneumonia in 1954, the doctors gave her two years to live. Instead, she lived for 24 more years and passed away in 1980 at the age of 88. Her gravestone in Mechanic Falls’ Maple Grove Cemetery bears the phrase “the last of the saddle tramps.”
Books Regarding Annie Wilkins’ Story
1. Last of the Saddle Tramps: One Woman’s Seven Thousand Mile Equestrian Odyssey – Mesannie Wilkins
2. The Ride of Her Life: The True Story of a Woman, Her Horse, and Their Last-Chance Journey Across America – Elizabeth Letts
What do you think about the amazing, brave journey of this elderly woman? What’s your dream journey that you wish to travel before you die? Please let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to spread the news so that we can hear from more people.
Love it…love horses. Have had my share and then some. At 76, I have regrets…things I wish I had done. I have been to every state except VT and AK, Puerto Rico, the VirginIslands, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, the Yucatan, Canada, Belize, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, etc. but would dearly love to see Italy, France and Scotland. I wish I had written a book, as I have always wanted to do (and may yet), I would love to play piano [my mother played by ear], and wish I had created more drawings and paintings. Life just slips away and, eventhough you can’t imagine that you are old, the fact remain