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Letters of a Woman Homesteader

by Elinore Pruitt Stewart

ISBN 0803251939 / 9780803251939 / 0-8032-5193-9
Publisher University of Nebraska Press
Language English
Edition Softcover
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Book summary

Elinore Pruitt, a widow and mother who washed clothes for a living in Denver, planned to work as a housekeeper for some rancher while learning all she would need to know about homesteading a place for herself. In 1909 she went to work for Clyde Stewart, whose ranch was near Burnt Fork, Wyoming, and within six weeks she married him. "Ranch work seemed to require that we be married first and do our sparking afterward," she wrote Juliet Coney, her former employer. She maintained her independence by filing on a quarter section adjacent to her husband's land and proving it up herself. Her delightful letters, written from the time of her arrival until 1913, authentically depict an Old West that, as Jessamyn West notes in her foreword, has been "progressively obscured by those who portray it most often."

The critically acclaimed 1980 film Heartland was based on Elinore Pruitt Stewart's letters and journals.

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