Quotes from a Woman Homesteader

Mattie Earnest, my great-great-great grandmother’s best friend, and her pet antelope at the Pick Ranch along the North Platte River, now under the backwater from the Pathfinder Dam in central Wyoming. Picture probably taken sometime in the 1880’s

I collect quotes.  I like them because they require less dusting then other collectibles.

The following quotes are from a book I’ve read called, Letters From A Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart.  Elinore moved to Wyoming to work for a rancher, with her 3 year old daughter, after the death of her husband.  The letters were written to her previous employer and describe what life was like living on a ranch in Wyoming in the early 1900’s.  I wish I could have known her.

“persons afraid of coyotes and work and loneliness had better let ranching alone.  At the same time, any woman who can stand her own company, can see the beauty of a sunset. loves growing things and is willing to put in as much time at careful labor as she does over the washtub, will certainly succeed; will have independence, plenty to eat all the time and a home of her own in the end.”

When you think of me you must think of me as one who is truly happy.  It is true, I want a great many things I haven’t got, but I don’t want them enough to be discontented and not enjoy the many blessings that are mine. I have my home among the blue mountains, my healthy well-formed children, my clean honest husband, my kind gentle milk cows, my garden which I make myself.  There are lots of chickens, turkeys and pigs which are my own special care.  I have some slow old gentle horses and an old wagon.  I can load up the kiddies and go where I please any time. I have the best, kindest neighbors and I have my dear absent friends.  Do you wonder I am so happy?  When I think of it all, I wonder how I can crowd all my joy into one short life.”

“those who try know that strength and knowledge come with doing”

And one of my all time favorites:

“It has always been a theory of mine that when we become sorry for ourselves we make our misfortunes harder to bear, because we lose courage and can’t think without bias; so I cast about me for something to be glad about”

We like to talk about the “good old days” and think to ourselves how much better things were back then, how much simpler and easier.  But I don’t think that was really the case.  They were different, completely different but I don’t think they were easier.  Life was hard back then and sometimes life is hard in modern times, most of time for different reasons but there have always been hardships to bear and always will be.  We can learn a lot though, by looking back at those who were able to bear them well, with grace and courage.  The times may be different, the world has certainly changed but some lessons will always stand the test of time.  And I think Elinore was a wise and gracious woman.

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