Letters of a Woman Homesteader

Letters of a Woman Homesteader

Letters of a Woman Homesteader

Letters of a Woman Homesteader

Excerpt

JESSAMYN WEST

In 1909 Elinore Rupert, a widow with a small daughter, left her work in Denver (she calls herself a "washlady") to become a housekeeper for a Wyoming rancher. She did so because she wanted to homestead a place for herself; and the "Reverend Father," she writes, "thought it a good plan to get a position as a housekeeper for some rancher who would advise me about land and water rights."

The rancher, Clyde Stewart, as the Reverend Father may have foreseen, not only advised her about land and water rights, he advised her to marry him. After six weeks as housekeeper, Elinore Rupert became Elinore Stewart, housewife. "Ranch work seemed to require that we be married first and do our sparking afterward," she wrote Juliet Coney, her former employer. And she continued to write Mrs. Coney during the years that followed. This volume is made up of a selection from those letters.

I first read The Letters of a Woman Homesteader in back copies of the Atlantic Monthly . I had never forgotten these letters, but on rereading them I found that I had not remembered them as they are. They are, in fact (though not that alone), a collection of short stories. In almost every letter Elinore Stewart . . .

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