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From the Publisher¿One of the most important personal recollections of Montana¿s mining frontier.¿
¿Mary Clearman Blew, author of Bone Deep in Landscape
A covered wagon on a dim road, the promise of a long journey, and the wonder of what lay ahead filled the shadowy spaces of Mary Sheehan Ronan's earliest memories. By the time she was a married woman in her twenties, she was a well-seasoned pioneer, having crossed most of the country and retraced her steps back across a third of it. Ronan tells her story in this highly readable, entertaining account of one woman's life in the West during the second half of the nineteenth century. This detailed memoir recalls a ...
A covered wagon on a dim road, the promise of a long journey, and the wonder of what lay ahead filled the shadowy spaces of Mary Sheehan Ronan's earliest memories. By the time she was a married woman in her twenties, she was a well-seasoned pioneer, having crossed most of the country and retraced her steps back across a third of it. Ronan tells her story in this highly readable, entertaining account of one woman's life in the West during the second half of the nineteenth century. This detailed memoir recalls a girl's growing up on the Montana mining frontier, her ascent to young womanhood on a farm in southern California, her experiences as a student in a Los Angeles convent school, her return to Montana as a bride, and her life on the Flathead Indian Reservation as wife of the Indian agent. The exhilaration of a forbidden sled ride, the creaking of the hangman's rope, her father giving the last of their water to his dying mule—these things Ronan remembers with vivid clarity. A highly readable, entertaining account, Girl from the Gulches's unique perspective is a joy to read.
The Long Trek
In April, 1863, we set out for Montana. A few nights before, Ma hung a big washing on the lines so that she might have everything clean at least at the beginning of the long trek. In the morning she found that thieves had stripped the lines.
My father always had two wagons drawn by six-mule teams, one loaded very heavily and driven by a hired man. My father drove the other wagon in which the family rode. Supplies covered the bottom of this wagon. Over the supplies, Pa spread mattresses, blankets, and comforters; there we slept at night. Sometimes during the daytime Ma, Ellen, or I would be glad enough to crawl back for a nap with Kate. Fastened on the back of the wagon were a sheet-iron stove, a little rocking chair for my stepmother, and a mess box containing the food we needed day to day. When we stopped for a couple of days or more, the stove was set up and we cooked and washed. While the bread was baking and the clothes were drying, Ma rocked in her little chair and mended. In the evenings as we traveled right along, we cooked supper over a campfire. If we were out of bread, biscuit or shanter's bannock was baked in a Dutch oven.
Book I: Into the Land of Gold
(1) Early Recollections
(2) Overland to Colorado
(3) Denver Days
(4) The Long Trek
(5) Alder Gulch
(6) Last Chance Gulch
Book II: Youth and Romance
(7) Peter Ronan
(8) Bound for San Diego
(9) Casa Blanca, San Juan Capistrano
(10) School Days in Los Angeles
(11) Letters and Clippings of 1873
(12) Vicissitudes Aplenty
(13) Blackfoot City
Book III: Life Among the Flathead Indians
(14) The Jocko Valley
(15) Thunder-Traveling-Over-the-Mountain and the Nez Perce War
(16) One Small Domain
(17) Indians, Customs and Religion
(20) Last Years at the Agency
Posted April 27, 2012
Mary Ronan's story is a delight to read--she is plucky and adventurous a la Laura Ingalls. In Girl from the Gulches, she remembers her childhood adventures on the mining frontier and life as a married woman on a reservation. Her memory of her courtship by Peter Ronan is especially delightful, but I won't spoil it for you! Suffice to say, it's a charming and satisfying love story, just as this book is overall a charming and satisfying read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.