Staking Her Claim: Women Homesteading the West

Staking Her Claim: Women Homesteading the West by Marcia Meredith - Single women homesteading in the still wild west of the early 1900s tell their stories in their own words—of adventure, independence, failure, success, and freedom.

Staking Her Claim: Women Homesteading the West

By Marcia Meredith Hensley

Instead of talking about women’s rights, these frontier women grabbed the opportunity to become landowners by homesteading in the still wild west of the early 1900s. Here they tell their stories in their own words—through letters and articles of the time—of adventure, independence, foolhardiness, failure, success, and freedom.

  • • 978-0931271-90-8 • trade paper • index • 304 pp • photos • $19.95 ORDER NOW
Staking Her Claim: Women Homesteading the West

Staking Her Claim: Women Homesteading the West

By Marcia Meredith Hensley

"Reading these accounts by women homesteaders is like discovering a dusty trunk in a beloved grandmother’s attic where you sift through stacks of letters bound by faded ribbons, open brittle pages of a diary, or leaf through yellowing magazines. Time will suspend as you are transported to another era, and you may not want to return. "
•• Susanne George Bloomfield, author of The Adventures of The Woman Homesteader

"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 Hensley’s 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 these women’s stories in their own words."
••Mary Clearman Blew, author of Jackalope Dreams: A Novel

"This book will be the standard by which future books on the sunject, and there will be more, are judged. It will make you proud, male or female, of the accomplishments of these true settlers of the West."
•• Mike Nobles, The Oklahoma Observer

Marcia Meredith Hensley

Marcia Meredith Hensley

When Marcia Hensley moved to Wyoming as a single mother of two in the 1980s, she took a course in Western history. She also read Elinore Pruitt Stewart’s Letters of a Woman Homesteader and was troubled by the discrepancy between her college textbook’s assertion that women were reluctant pioneers and Stewart’s enthusiastic account of homesteading in western Wyoming. She found that Stewart, a single woman homesteader who chose to come West with her daughter, was appreciative of the landscape and the lifestyle.

Hensley identified with Stewart and wondered whether there was a difference in the attitudes of single women who chose to go west and those of women who accompanied their husbands west. This book is the result of a twenty-year search for the answer.

A graduate of the University of Tulsa, Hensley taught English at Western Wyoming Community College where she directed the Western American Studies program in addition to teaching composition and Western Literature.

Since retiring she has concentrated on writing and historical research. In 2004 she won the Wyoming Arts Council’s Neltje Blanchan Memorial Award for writing inspired by nature. She has served on the Wyoming Council for the Humanities Speaker’s Bureau. Along with a group of community volunteers, she helped compile an anthology of stories about Eden Valley, Wyoming, to commemorate the Valley’s centennial.

Her work has been published in two anthologies of western writing as well as the syndicated newspaper column “Writers on the Range.”

Staking Her Claim was a finalist for the Willa Award from Women Writing the West.