Letters of a Woman Homesteader presents an outstanding first-person account of life on the American frontier. Elinore Pruitt Stewart took up homesteading in Burnt Fork, Wyoming, in 1909, to prove that a woman could ranch. Her captivating letters, sent to a former employer in Denver, reveal the isolation, the beauty, and the joy of working the prairie.The basis for the acclaimed movie Heartland, this charming chronicle is part of our vanished past. Stewart's courage and her delight in the world around her cannot fail to capture the hearts of her listeners.
After a bout of flu she was advised that she should travel out to Wyoming as she was supposed to fare better there. On a whim she contacted a man who was advertising for a housekeeper. She moved from Denver to Wyoming, near the Bad Land hills.
This book is a collection of letters which she wrote to a dear friend and former employer in Denver. Over the course of the letters on learns bits and pieces about her life...a few secrets even. If you've never read this type of book or if you just think you might not be interested, I would still encourage you to broaden your reading horizons and read this little gem.
At only 112 pages it is certainly a page-turner. I couldn't wait to see what Elinore and her gang might be upt to next. The best part is that she is quite the humorist. Not only does she find humor in many things, she is also able to convey humor through her writing. What a talent! How pleased must have been those people to whom she wrote letters! I can only imagine what a pleasure it must have been to know her. With such a bright and giving spirit, those around her must truly have been blessed.
She, too, was blessed. Moving to Wyoming brought her to a land that was much less inhabited than where she had previously lived. She had to learn new ways. She also learned independence as she was also on a quest to prove her own homestead! In the course of doing that she also made many life-long friends and found that she did not have to be always so fiercely independent because she was surrounded by people who loved her and cared for her.
At first I doubted that this was actually a work of non-fiction, but upon researching the author after I finished the book, I found that, indeed, she was a real person. I would compare her to the fictional Amelia Peabody of the famous mystery series. She is a woman of heart and pluck.
Elinor Pruitt takes her future into her own hands and heads to Wyoming with her young daughter. While proving up her own homestead, she keeps house and cooks for the bachelor at the next homestead, in this way making an income meantime. Her letters back home to her friend are full of the beauties of her surroundings, and accounts of encounters with neighbors, Mormons, wild creatures, and weather. The saved letters cover her years in Wyoming from 1909-1913. I would love to have letters such as these in my family history. They are full of emotion and fact and held me rapt for the duration of the book.
”Did you ever eat pork and beans heated in a frying-pan on a camp-fire for breakfast? Then if you have not, there is one delight left you. But you must be away out in Wyoming, with the morning sun just gilding the distant peaks, and your pork and beans must be out of a can, heated in a disreputable old frying-pan, served with coffee boiled in a battered old pail and drunk from a tomato-can. ”
The narrator was good. The letters, terrific!
Highly recommended for all the BT folks.
With both humor and insight she describes her day to day activities and that of her neighbours. This isn’t an easy life, they are miles from any town or railroad and have to learn to be self-sufficient in many areas, including medicine. Even going to a neighbours for a dinner party means a long overnight camping trip to get there. Yet even while living such an isolated life, her letters portray her love of life and nature. Her prose is simple and heartfelt, and her descriptions of the natural world that surround her allow the reader to feel part of that world as well.
Eleanor Pruitt Stewart was a strong, independent woman, as I imagine most women who homesteaded had to be. When there wasn’t a minister available for a funeral service, she went ahead and conducted the services for her new-born son herself. But beyond having this core of steel, she was a woman who found the place she was meant to be. “I love the flicker of an open fire, the smell of the pines, the pure, sweet air, and I went to sleep thinking how blest I was to be able to enjoy the things I love most.” An enjoyable read.
*note: Elinore was a Southerner writing in 1909-1913, and she unapologetically uses the n-word throughout the book.