Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Ellinore Pruitt Stewart
Ellinore left her life as a washing woman and decided to go homesteading in the West. It never struck her that she couldn’t do it because she was a woman. She just went. The traveling was not easy.
Ellinore got herself work on a homestead and then ultimately go her own homestead. The claim office man thought she was there selling books; she had to kick over a chair to get him to take her seriously.
Time went on and Ellinore even got married and started her own family. She helped plan weddings and she buried babies. She was never afraid to go out on an adventure into the mountains.
The whole time Ellinore was a faithful correspondent to her former employer.
What I liked
Ellinore sounds like she was a very interesting person. She’s one of those people in the past that would be fun to meet. Her writing is impressive for someone who didn’t really get a formal education.
Ellinore apparently had a very difficult life. Her parents died when she was young. She had to help raise five of her eight younger siblings. She worked for a railroad. She married a much older man and then he died. She trained as a nurse and she worked as a washer woman. It’s impressive that she did so well for herself.
What I didn’t like
The stories about the Mormon settlers are sad. I think polygamy is just awful. At this point in history, the church had left polygamy behind, but those who had been practicing it, continued to practice it. There just weren’t additional marriages arranged that were polygamous.
Ellinore saw, first hand, how these marriages were awful when she found fellow settlers who were Mormon. These were not happy circumstances, nor did they make sense to anyone on the outside. If these marriages make people so unhappy, I don’t understand why anyone would follow through with it. I know they think their eternal salvation depends on it, but the whole situation is lopsided in the first place. The whole thing reeks of someone just wanting the ability to have sex with more than one person and say that God was OK with it.
I think Ellinore is great.
Would you marry a man if he already had a wife?
Could you have gone out west by yourself and homesteaded? Regardless of gender.