Going the distance…

Helga Estby

Helga Estby born May 30, 1860 traveled from Norway and arrived in Michigan in 1871. In 1876, she married and ventured to Mica Creek near Spokane, Washington. Due to the Panic of 1893 and her husband’s injuries, the family farm and the family of ten were in jeopardy. The mother and eldest daughter took on an unlikely solution, walking from Spokane to New York for a reward of $10,000. The ladies had seven months, started with $5, wore bicycle skirts, could not beg, and visited political leaders in every state capital without using the railroad. The two left May 6, 1896 walking between 25-35 miles a day. Helga and her daughter received little help in Washington State, but the kindness of strangers allowed for the pair to hike through the Laramie Mountains, Colorado, and Ohio meeting President-elect McKinley and reaching the World newspaper office on Manhattan Island, December 23, 1896. The sponsor of the promotion refused to honor the prize and two of Helga’s children died of diphtheria days apart from each other as she attempted to return home. In 1901, the farm foreclosed and the family moved into Spokane. This 3,500 mile walk changed Helga, proving the resilience and strength of a Victorian era suffragist.