The Story of Myrtle Tallman
Myrtle Tallman was known for selling her book, titled “The Traveling Trio”, about her travels all the US. In 1910 she moved to Fillmore to be with her family. Pictured above are the Tallman sisters. Photos courtesy Fillmore Historical
Myrtle Tallman was known for selling her book, titled “The Traveling Trio”, about her travels all the US. In 1910 she moved to Fillmore to be with her family. Pictured above are the Tallman sisters. Photos courtesy Fillmore Historical Museum.
A copy of the inside cover of Myrtle’s book circa 1908.
A copy of the inside cover of Myrtle’s book circa 1908.
Tallman's red book regarding the 1905 trip.
Tallman's red book regarding the 1905 trip.
Tallman evening program 1912.
Tallman evening program 1912.

Courtesy Fillmore History Museum

Note: For a longer version of this story with additional photos, please visit the Fillmore Historical Museum's website at

Some time ago John Nichols, well known photographer and author from Santa Paula, found a small red book at a library book sale. He contacted us at the Fillmore Museum to see if we had any information on the author of the book, Myrtle Tallman, who had family in Fillmore.

The following story is the result of that simple question.

Myrtle Catherine Tallman
The Author Who Lived in Her Wheelchair
by John Nichols
Santa Paula - 2021

Myrtle Catherine Tallman made herself famous during her lifetime by selling a book she wrote titled “The Traveling Trio” that documented her travels in 1905 all over the western United States in her wheelchair. She moved to Fillmore, California in 1910 to be with her family but later moved to Long Beach and died in 1918 and was buried with family members in Bardsdale Cemetery near Fillmore.

Here is the Obituary of Myrtle Catherine Tallman From Fillmore Herald

Death of Myrtle Tallman, August 26, 1918

With peaceful resignation to the fates, Miss Myrtle Catherine Tallman, a life-long invalid, sank into the great sleep that knows no waking last Monday at Long Beach. Deceased was born at Tilden, Nebraska, May 17, 1878, and at the age of 8 years she was stricken with infantile paralysis, which left her a helpless invalid for 32 years, all of which time she has been confined to a rolling chair, needing an attendant at all times. Notwithstanding her affliction, Miss Tallman was cheerful through her life of suffering. She devoted herself to study and was a writer of more than ordinary ability. Accompanied by her sister, Edythe, she came to Fillmore about nine years ago, shortly after the death of her mother, but found she could not stand the climate of this valley and took up her residence in Long Beach.
The funeral was held Tuesday morning from the family residence on Santa Clara Street, the private services being conducted by Rev. Harry Shepherd. The interment was held at Bardsdale Cemetery.
Deceased is survived by her father, W. W. Tallman, and sisters, Miss Edythe Tallman of Fillmore, Mrs. Francis D. Buck and Mrs. Von Harmonson of Sespe, Mrs. Maud Richards of Rockford, Illinois, and two brothers, Ward Tallman of Fillmore, now in the Navy, and R. W. Tallman of Lincoln, Nebraska.

But the story for me started about 3 years ago when I found a copy of a strange looking book. It had a bright red cloth cover and the illustration on the cover showed a young woman in a wheel chair being lifted into the baggage car of the Union Pacific Railway train by three porters. They were possibly African American. She was being loaded onto the train car in her wheelchair and would travel with the baggage. Two other women looked on.
It was published in Lincoln, Neb. in 1908 by Myrtle Catherine Tallman and facing the title page was a portrait of her in her wheel chair with a cat sleeping on a pillow at her feet. Another member of the Traveling Trio pictured below in the book was her sister Ruth Jane Tallman (1891-1971).

I took it home not knowing how it came to be for sale in Santa Paula. My first act when I buy an interesting new vintage book is to look it up on The strange thing was that there was not another vintage copy for sale anywhere in the world. There were several reprints for sale so there must be some interest in the topic or the writings.

I continued my research.

Lately I’m finding a huge number of books that can be downloaded free for reading on my iPad. One source is Open Library where The Traveling Trio can downloaded as a PDF, ePUB, FB2, MOBI and TXT. Do a Google search and download your own free copy. Or buy a physical copy.

My next dip into research was to search Find A Grave to see where she ended up. To my shock and surprise I found that she was buried about 10 miles from my home in Santa Paula at the Bardsdale Cemetery. The family plot contains a tombstone for her father William Warren Tallman, a Ventura County pioneer, who died at age 79 at his daughter’s home in Santa Paula. She was Mrs. Edythe Moisling. It is possible that my copy of the book came from the Moisling estate. She and her husband George are also shown living in Piru on Howe Road in the 1940 census. She died in Fillmore in 1973.

I searched the Fillmore Newspaper on line at the CDND, which is the California Digital Newspaper Collection and found the obituary for Myrtle Tallman that appears at the beginning of this story.
The CDND is a great research tool.
I searched digital copies of the Santa Paula Chronicle that I have on an external hard drive and found Myrtle's father's brief obituary.

County Pioneer Called By Death

William W. Tallman, 79, of Fillmore answered the call of death recently at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Edythe Moisling in Santa Paula. He had been a resident of Fillmore for the past twenty years, except for the last six months when he has been confined to bed in his daughter's home here.
The deceased is survived by four daughters: Mrs. Mamie Harmonson, of Fillmore; Mrs. Edythe Moisling, of Santa Paula; Mrs. Ruth Buck, of Fillmore; Mrs. Alta Hampton, of Ventura and one son, Ward Tallman of Long Beach.
Private funeral services were held yesterday afternoon in Fillmore, Rev. Gammon of the Fillmore Presbyterian church officiating and music was furnished by Mrs. Leo Harmonson and Mrs. Frank Howard of FilImore. Pall bearers were Ross Buckman, Leo Harmonson, Howard Williams, Arthur Taylor, J. M. Horton and A. James. Internment was in Bardsdale Cemetery.

Now that I was getting to know the Tallman family better I went to for more information.
It showed Myrtle being born in Scranton, Iowa in 1878 even though her obituary lists Tilden, Nebraska. She and her family moved to Nebraska and appear on their census of 1900. She next appears on the census of 1910 living in Fillmore. She had moved to Fillmore after the death of her mother Nellie Ward Tallman in 1909.

Her occupation in 1910 is listed as “Selling own books”.
Hair: Auburn
Had Rheumatoid Arthritis from childhood. Confined to a wheelchair.
(Myrtle's obituary only mentions "infantile paralysis" from age 8 but as an adult it was properly described as rheumatoid arthritis.)

The rest of this fascinating story and more photos can be found at