Letters of a Woman Homesteader


Letters of a Woman Homesteader

Elinore Pruitt Stewart

282 pages


January 1990


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

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.


“Everyone should read Elinore Pruitt Stewart. Letters of a Woman Homesteader is a lively account of a Denver woman who moved to Wyoming in the early 1900s and proved that a woman could ranch. It is a rare, first-hand account of the Wild West by a woman. There were plenty of women on the frontier, of course, but their accounts have been obscured by the cowboys who got to tell most of the stories.”—Shelf Awareness

"Mrs. Stewart was a woman whose nineteenth-century pioneer spirit seems to have been laced with a strong dose of twentieth-century liberation. Equally impressive is her ability to characterize the people around her."—Ann Ronald, Western American Literature

"Authentic records of Western ranch life—and more, for Mrs. Stewart had a born writer's talent."—New York Times Book Review

"The letters show how important women were in frontier development. [Elinore Stewart's] energy, good works, sense of humor, courage, common sense, and humility win our admiration."—T. A. Larson, Wyoming Horizons Magazine

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