Until the late 1840s the Southwest and California were still part of Mexico.
Mexican women had more property rights than American women at the time. They did not lose their property when they married and could run their own businesses as well as buy and sell crops they grew or objects they made.
All that changed, however, in 1848, when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed, bringing an end to the Mexican War, between Mexico and the United States.
Texas (which had been an independent republic since 1836) and the areas that are now New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and California, as well as half of Colorado and part of Wyoming, all became part of the United States.
As a result, Mexican women became subject to the laws restricting married American women’s property rights. Moreover, even women who retained their property soon lost it to the influx of white settlers.
In 1866 Clara Brown, a former slave, used money she had saved from washing miners’ clothes in Colorado to start her own wagon train company to provide transportation west for African Americans who wanted to leave the South.