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Staking Her Claim: Women Homesteading the West Paperback – September 15, 2008
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The author had an interesting history perspective, telli g the story of female homesteaders in Wyoming, North and South Dakota and Montana, I did not know how late the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Carol K. Page
These are true an actual events and this book really tells it like it was. I'm from this area and have been to many of these places.Published 18 months ago by Martha Schulz
I am in love with all books and the best lately have been about women that were strong and heading west in hard timesPublished 21 months ago by wendy
Most people don't realize that many women homesteaded the West. This was an opportunity for independence. Ms Hensley's book shares the stories of some of these women. Read morePublished 24 months ago by Caroline Clemmons
I love true stories of strong women--and here they are. I gave this book to a young friend, nervous about becoming a first time homeowner and she LOVED it, too.Published on January 8, 2014 by P. Maurer
I actually purchase this book in a real book store in Grand Junction CO. I found it very enlightening and informative. Read morePublished on December 27, 2013 by Craig
Finally an account of homesteading that brings to light the role of women in settling the west. These women were strong willed, strong spirited and many were physically strong. Read morePublished on November 20, 2013 by Laura Jo Fojtasek