E.J., as she was called, was a very strong-willed independent woman for her day. She filed on her own homestead claim near De Smet in Dakota Territory in 1879. She worked as a "government girl" in Washington, D.C., from 1887 to 1892.
In 1893, E.J. married Thomas Thayer, father of six children, and had one son, Walcott "Wilder" Thayer, in 1894. Thomas died in 1899, and E.J. married Maxwell Gordon, whom she later divorced.
E.J. moved to Crowley, Louisiana, and persuaded most of her family to move there and invest in rice farming, which resulted in a loss of the family fortune. She was a major influence on the life of her niece Rose, who came to live with her in Crowley for a year while attending high school.
E.J. moved in with her brother Perley in Kinder, Louisiana, later in life, where she died in 1930.