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Staking Her Claim: Women Homesteading the West Paperback


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Staking Her Claim: Women Homesteading the West + Days on the Road: Crossing the Plains in 1865: The Diary of Sarah Raymond Herndon + Pioneer Women: The Lives of Women on the Frontier (Oklahoma Paperbacks Edition)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: High Plains Pr (September 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0931271908
  • ISBN-13: 978-0931271908
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #517,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Reading these accounts by women homesteaders is like discovering a dusty trunk in the attic of a beloved grandmother, where you sift through stacks of letters bound by faded ribbons, open brittle pages of a diary, or leaf through yellowing magazines. Time will suspend as you are transported to another era, and you may not want to return. --Susanne George Bloomfield, author of The Adventures of The Woman Homesteader<br /><br />Staking Her Claim is doubly rewarding for its wealth of data about women who stepped outside the picture-frame of myth on the Western homestead frontier, and for the pure pleasure of hearing the stories of these women in their own words. --Mary Clearman Blew, author of Jackalope Dreams: A Novel<br /><br />This book is an invaluable gift. Marcia Meredith Hensley achieves here what no other writer or historian has done in gathering and explaining the important writings of dozens of single women homesteaders in the interior northern West. Hensley stakes her own claim as a new authority in this rewarding collection. --Richard W. Etulain, author of Beyond the Missouri: The Story of the American West

This book is an invaluable gift. Marcia Meredith Hensley achieves here what no other writer or historian has done in gathering and explaining the important writings of dozens of single women homesteaders in the interior northern West. Hensley stakes her own claim as a new authority in this rewarding collection. --Richard W. Etulain, author of Beyond the Missouri: The Story of the American West

Staking Her Claim is doubly rewarding for its wealth of data about women who stepped outside the picture-frame of myth on the Western homestead frontier, and for the pure pleasure of hearing the stories of these women in their own words. --Mary Clearman Blew, author of Jackalope Dreams: A Novel

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Customer Reviews

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I wish the book was twice the size.
S. Myers
Hensley did a masterful and scholarly job of researching and presenting these findings.
Sharon Lippincott
I love true stories of strong women--and here they are.
P. Maurer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Mary Scriver on December 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
If it's a cold snowy winter where you are (as it is here -- thirty below last night) and you're a single female out West (as I am) and you live alone because you love it (as I do), then I've got a book for you. It's "Staking her Claim: Women Homesteaders in the West," partly letters, partly memoir, and partly scholarly reflection, with a nice little sprinkling of photos, this book is produced by the High Plains Press with its special sympathy for women. Reading it, one realizes that this is not something that just happened on the American Frontier at a certain point in time, but a kind of attitude and resourcefulness that persists on the fringes of conformity everywhere.

One has to grant that homesteading on the American prairie was a special case, a way for women to escape from housewife drudgery or other scut work disguised as a career in nursing or teaching. As well, some of these tales speak of second generation homesteaders, young women who had grown up on the family homestead. They knew quite well what they were getting into and what it would take to survive.

Now the stories come to us as though new, unworn by familiarity: homesteaders with pianos who painted watercolors to pin on walls they had plastered themselves. Good reminders that bad times can be survived, land can be lost and gained, community can be built and rebuilt in the most unpromising places.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Judy Baker on November 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
I read this book out loud to my husband on a road trip from Southern California to McCall Idaho. The scenery we saw flying past our car's windows matched many of the descriptions of the homesteaders' arid lands
described in this book. We felt somewhat lonely as we headed down the empty portions of the 2 lane highways that sparingly cross Nevada from south to north and then into the south-eastern most lands of Oregon that are so sparsely populated. It was so easy to identify with these heroines and at the same time laugh at ourselves for looking upon our retirement "adventure" as if it took any courage at all when compared to theirs. These women were remarkable for their determination, courage, and independent ways. I was feeling so much a part of their lives and relishing the excitement of that period in American history. When we stopped to stretch our legs in Jordan Valley I looked for a hitching post to which we might tie our horses! There were none but the "time-shift" in my mind continued when I went into a small family run espresso, soft ice cream, marbles and memorabilia shop called "the rock house." I felt like I was still in the early part of the twentieth century!...The biographical details were intimate portraits of the lives of these amazing women. The author has obviously spent many hours combing newspapers and journals as well as having contact with several of the relatives of these great Americans who helped to push our nation west. Thank you very much Marcia Hensley for this entertaining and informative treasure.
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Format: Paperback
Staking Her Claim: Women Homesteading the West tells the true stories of women who seized the opportunity to become landowners by homesteading in the (then still wild!) west during the early 1900s. The text smoothly summarizes the unique challenges and hardships these women faced, but the main draw to Staking Her Claim is its primary sources - letters and articles of the era in which these women tell their stories in their own words. Vintage black-and-white photographs pepper this enthralling hands-on account, highly recommended for high school, college, and public lending library collections. "Another reason homesteading by single women increased by the time of the Enlarged Homestead Acts of 1909 and 1912 is that by then the daughters of families who homesteaded in the late 1800s were coming of age. These young women had acquired skills needed to homestead while growing up on their parents' homesteads farther east and were no strangers to the hard work they were undertaking."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Paul Crawford on January 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
Marcia Hensley mulled over this material, gathering and researching and thinking for a long time. Like many books, the germ of the idea began, no doubt, with a few instances which stimulated her curiosity. Were there more women who hearkened to the goading of Horace Greeley, "Go West, Young Man!"? How many? A significant number? Were they dreaming the same dreams? Were there women's stories untold and undisclosed in the development of the Mountain West, a milieu dominated with men's stories?

Hensley shows us that indeed there were such stories. The Homestead Act of 1862 opened the door for men and single women--"heads of households" specifically--to acquire land by a few years of "proving up," and then eventually owning the land. Revisions to the act in 1909 and 1912 continued the westering prospects for those willing, and more women tried it then than earlier. Not as many women as men tried it, but there were some, and the book puts that together for us in a compilation of historic and literary examples. Homesteading wasn't easy, and many of both genders failed along the way. But some had the necessary grit, and they succeeded. These are their stories.

Standing around and being dainty wasn't the way of the woman homesteader. Instead they coped, somehow, with the pestiferous--pack rats, mice, snakes (including lots of rattlers), prairie dogs, coyotes, porcupines, jackrabbits and more, dispatching some with their rifles, or traps, or something as uncomplicated as a shovel. Whack! Off with their heads!

Some coped with intense cold of winter, and intense heat of summer, and other difficult weather conditions.
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