Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I have managed to get a little bit of reading in lately so I thought I'd share a wonderful book that I just finished.  "Letters of a Woman Homesteader" by Elinore Pruitt Stewart.  I downloaded this from Amazon for Kindle for free but hadn't read it and then found a paperback copy of it on  There's still a Kindle version still available for free, you just have to look and see which one.  I'm so glad I found a paperback copy since this is definitely a keeper.  Since I started participating on the Mary Jane's Farm forums I've developed an interest in women who pioneered or homesteaded and ordered several books from to read as time allows.

Elinore is a widow with a young daughter who had moved to Wyoming to homestead.  The book contains letters she sends to Mrs. Coney, the woman she worked as a washer woman for prior to moving to Burnt Fork.  It covers several years of her life and describes her life and adventures to her dear friend.  The first letter is dated April 18, 1909. 

I found some of her adventures amazing.  The way she would bundle up her daughter and then later her sons and go off on her adventures is truly amazing.  The bravery of starting off in a sled during the harsh winters to visit somebody took a lot of courage.  The compassion of cooking for days and taking the food out to the sheepherder's camps.  She wrote a number of times that she felt more women should leave the city and homestead.  She figured they could live better even if they just grew potatoes.  Mrs. Coney may have questioned this because Elinore later writes that she'd done an experiment and listed all that her and her daughter had been able to grow for a year without any other help except having one of the men plow the fields prior to planting.  When she first arrived she did barter her cooking skills during harvesting season for several days to pay for her crops to be harvested. 

Most of the letters left me wishing she'd written more extensively of the events even though she profusely apologizes to Mrs. Coney in nearly every letter about how wordy and lengthy the letters were.  It's a sign of a good book when you're left wanting to know more.  It also left me wishing states still offered free land to homestead and prove.  This book was made into a movie which I found on Amazon but it's a bit too pricey for me especially when I haven't seen it and don't know if it's a movie that I'd watch frequently enough to justify the cost.

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