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book review: "Trials of the Earth"...

Monday, December 12, 2016
...by Mary Mann Hamilton. Written in her later years, reportedly as an accurate story of the life of a pioneer woman - but not the usual western frontier experience. This family settled in Mississippi in the delta area. Worked for years in the logging and sawmilling business as well as farming to provide food for the family.

It took a while for me to finish the book, but it was so interesting, I continued to pick it up and read till the last page. A remarkable woman, who was orphaned as a young teen, married a man she hardly knew at age fourteen in order to keep her siblings together. I cannot even begin to imagine how physically demanding daily life was in that era, when she worked for years cooking in a kitchen with a wood stove providing boarding house food for loggers in densely wooded areas of completely wild forests in Arkansas and the Delta area.

Quoting from the fly leaf of the book:
"Near the end of her life, Mary Mann Hamilton (1866- 1936) was encouraged to record her experiences as a female pioneer. The result is the only known first-hand account of a remarkable woman thrust into the center of taming the American South - surviving floods, tornadoes, and fires; facing bears, panthers and snakes; managing a boarding house in Arkansas that was home to an eccentric group of settles; and running a logging camp in Mississippi that blazed a trail for development in the ...Delta. All this  while caring for her children, several of whom didn't survive the perils of pioneer life.  The extreme hard work and tragedy Hamilton faced are eclipsed only by her emotional and physical strength; her unwavering faith in her husband Frank, a mysterious Englishman; and her tenacious sense of adventure."

I think I learned about this book during my reading of the "True Women" book about early settlers of Texas, so it appears I have been delving into early American history quite a bit. Women with a lot of grit and gumption. An absolute necessity in order to survive in those times and places when everything you had, wore, ate was physically wrested from the environment. Making me very thankful for today's amenities like hot water for showers, washers and dryers, a pantry full of canned goods and staples.

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