The First We Can Remember


The First We Can Remember

Colorado Pioneer Women Tell Their Stories

Edited and with an introduction by Lee Schweninger

408 pages
8 maps, 1 appendix


November 2011


$40.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

November 2011


$40.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Looking over the great prairie in the early 1880s, Nellie Buchanan said, “I knew I would never be contented until I had a home of our own in the wonderful West.” Some were not so sanguine. Mary Cox described the prairie as “the most barren, forsaken country that we had ever seen.” Like the others whose stories appear in this book, these women were describing their own thoughts and experiences traveling to and settling in what became Colorado. Sixty-seven of their original, first-person narratives, recounted to Civil Works Administration workers in 1933 and 1934, are gathered for the first time in this book.

The First We Can Remember presents richly detailed, vivid, and widely varied accounts by women pioneers during the late nineteenth century. Narratives of white American-born, European, and Native American women contending with very different circumstances and geographical challenges tell what it was like to settle during the rise of the smelting and mining industries or the gold rush era; to farm or ranch for the first time; to struggle with unfamiliar neighbors, food and water shortages, crop failure, or simply the intransigent land and unpredictable weather. Together, these narratives—historically and geographically framed by Lee Schweninger’s detailed introduction—create a vibrant picture of women’s experiences in the pioneering of the American West.

Author Bio

Lee Schweninger is a professor of English at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. He is the author of Listening to the Land: Native American Literary Responses to the Landscape and Literary Masters: N. Scott Momaday.


"This collection makes a valuable addition to the published narratives of western women."—Dee Garceau, Great Plains Quarterly

"[The First We Can Remember is] a refreshing take on how real women traveled, coped with hardship, and lived day to day."—Peggy M. Dillon, Oral History Review

"A welcome addition to the bookshelf of pioneer studies, this work provides a critical primary source for undergraduates in the fields of history, cultural studies and womens' studies and highlights the need for additional work on the history and influence of CWA cultural workers."—Laura Woodworth-Ney, South Dakota State Historical Society

Table of Contents

List of Maps
A Note on the Texts
1. The Northwest Plateau: Moffat and Rio Blanco Counties
 Mrs. Dan'els
 Mrs. Henry Harris
 Emma Daum Amick
 Madeline Adams and Jennie Reische
2. The Mountains and Foothills: Gunnison, Rio Grande, Chaffee, Delta, Arapahoe, and Alamosa Counties
 Mary Nichols Williams
 Hattie Buck Williams
 Anna Lee Fulcher Clarkson
 Elizabeth Rule Harrington
 Mary R. Goff
 Mrs. Dock Wade
 Ada B. Sittser
 Julia E. Cozens
 Mrs. William Stewart
 Mary Jane Cole
3. The South: Pueblo, Otero, El Paso, and Las Animas Counties
 Mrs. R. D. Russell
 Hattie L. Hedges Trout
 Mrs. Will Mattingly
 Nellie Pollock Snyder
 Mary E. Hayden
 Cynthia Fisher
 Anna Dillon
 Mary Cox
4. The Northeast: Weld, Morgan, and Logan Counties
 Ada Fleming Sanford
 Grace Brush Mayne
 Etta L. Matteson Kettley
 Katherine S. McElroy
 Mrs. Pitt Smith
 Jennie Lucas
 Sallie J. Cheairs
 Lizzie Gordon Buchanan
 Mrs. W. H. Clatworthy
5. The Eastern Prairie: Kit Carson and Prowers Counties
 Nellie Buchanan 000
 Elizabeth Gutting Lengel
 Cynthia E. Boyles
 Flora Linford Ferris
 Mary Belle Kiser Haynes
 Angelina Fuller
 Anna Quinn
 Clementina E. Morrison-Guthrie
 Elizabeth Richards
 Martha Gilmore Lundy
 Luella Bell McKenzie
 Anna Homm
 Sarah Blakeman
 Jennie E. Davis
 Zelma Ackelson Davis
 Malinda Jones Brammeier
 Louise A. Merrill
6. The Southwest: La Plata and Montezuma Counties
 Dora Provis Pedersen
 Kate Smith Myers
 Mella McCluer Bohlick
 Sarah Ann Menefee
 Eliza LaCount
 Hubertine Pulvermiller
 Clara Morris Ormiston
 E. W. Camp
 Mary D. Hansen
 Carrie Smith Dunham
 Eva Adams House
 Mary Lee Lamb
 Agnes Langkamp Lupke
 Alice Henderson Akin
 Joanna Spalding Todd
 Sarah Elizabeth Walker Moore
 Dora Provis Pedersen
 Mary Alverda Estes Taylor
 Lucy Catherine Brumley-McConnell
 Mrs. Hattie Johnson Porter
 Mrs. Matt Hammond
Appendix: The Correspondence of Anna Florence Robison and LeRoy Hafen

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