Rosanna Dyer Osterman’s supplies helped travelers explore the western frontier, but it was her life-saving efforts as a nurse for which she was best remembered. Osterman moved to Galveston, Texas with her husband in 1838 and opened up a general store and import business, inventing and perfecting a nonperishable biscuit made from dried buffalo meat, cornmeal, and beans that frontiersmen could carry on long journeys. She also helped establish the Jewish community in Texas, bringing the first rabbi to consecrate a Jewish cemetery for the state. During the 1853 yellow fever epidemic, Osterman set up tents and treated the sick and dying, and during the Civil War, she did the same, turning her home into a hospital where she cared for Union and then Confederate troops. In a popular story, Osterman learned battle plans from a wounded Union soldier that she passed on to the Confederate general in Houston, helping the Confederates retake Galveston. She died in a steamboat explosion in 1866, leaving her fortune to various charities.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Rosanna Dyer Osterman." (Viewed on March 7, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/osterman-rosanna>.