Bachelor Bess: The Homesteading Letters of Elizabeth Corey, 1909-1919

Philip L. Gerber, Editor, Wayne Franklin, Designed by, Paul Corey, Designed by University of Iowa Press $44.95 (462p) ISBN 978-0-87745-302-4
Early in this century, a person with determination could change the course of a life by heading west to homestead in places like South Dakota--and, as Elizabeth Corey demonstrates in letters to her family in Iowa, that person could be a single woman. A lively and informative correspondent, Corey uses a multitude of details to flesh out the quotidian activities on her 160-acre claim: designing a brand to mark her stock, sitting for exams to maintain her teaching credentials, juggling meager funds for building materials to improve her property, shooting a rabbit in her garden (``I had to give him a little persuasive gun talk to get him to stay for dinner'') and dressing in ``three layers of wool all over'' as protection from the bitterly cold winters. Often her descriptions bubble with good humor: she suggests a law requiring that all marriage proposals be oral; when they're written, there's no way to stop the man from asking. However, elsewhere Corey ends with the plaintive postscript, ``I'm so homesick.'' Gerber's work includes Critical Essays on Robert Frost. Illustrations not seen by PW . (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1990
Release date: 10/01/1990
Paperback - 540 pages - 978-0-87745-303-1
Open Ebook - 533 pages - 978-1-58729-079-4
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