Texas Women on the Cattle Trails
Texas History - Ranching
6 x 9, 336 pp.
36 b&w photos., 2 maps.
Pub Date: 08/09/2006
Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Commerce
Price:        $29.95


Published by Texas A&M University Press

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2006 Liz Carpenter Award, presented by the Texas State Historical Association

Texas Women on the Cattle Trails

Edited by Sara R. Massey

Texas Women on the Cattle Trails tells the stories of sixteen women who drove cattle up the trail from Texas during the last half of the nineteenth century.
Some were young; some were old (over thirty). Some took to the trails by choice; others, out of necessity. Some went along to look at the stars; others, to work the cattle. Some made money and built ranching empires, but others went broke and lived hard, even desperate lives.
The courage of Margaret Borland and the spunk of Willie Matthews, the pure delight of Cornelia Adair viewing the buffalo, and the joy of Mary Bunton gazing at night constellations on the open range offer new insights into women's experiences of the West.
For the most part, these were ordinary women doing the best they could in difficult frontier conditions. They did not see themselves as living in unusual times or participating in "romantic" lifestyles, although the women who actually took to the trail were few in number.
Like the cowboys on cattle drives, they faced dust and heat, thirst and exhaustion, rustlers and Indians, stampedes and prairie fires. Drawing heavily on the accounts of the women themselves, the authors of these chapters vividly illustrate the complexity and diversity of women's experiences on the cattle trails. Their stories of cattle drives and moving cattle to distant pastures add an important chapter to the story of life in the real Old West.

Volume editor Sara R. Massey served as editor of Black Cowboys of Texas. While on the staff of the Institute of Texan Cultures, she was also the supervising editor for five books on Texas ethnic groups, the Texans All series published by Texas A&M University Press. She holds a doctorate from the University of Northern Colorado.

What Readers Are Saying:

“In these pages, you won’t find a single damsel in distress. There are no dance hall queens or saloon floozies either. The 16 women profiled here validate the importance of ordinary lives and offer new insights into the reality of the frontier West.”--Victoria-Advocate

“Over the past several decades, historians have acknowledged women’s contributions to the history of the west and to cattle drives across the United States. But what separates this book from other publications is that it offers specific names, faces, and stories of an assortment of women who took to the Texas cattle trails between 1868 and 1889.”--East Texas Historical Journal

“Some of the women (like Matthews) are scarcely known, while others made a name for themselves during their own lifetimes, such as Molly Goodnight, wife of the co-creator of the Goodnight-Loving Trail. Interestingly, many were known by their contemporaries as the first woman ever to ride with the herds. This clearly indicates how valuable such a work as Texas Women is; it brings together a previously scattered wealth of information into one book. As a result, the work benefits both pleasure reader and researcher. . . . Americans continue to scrutinize the American West into the twenty-first century. Its myths and its truths will always draw an eager audience. In the ever-growing mass of Western scholarship, Texas Women provides an enjoyable exploration of a field only recently expanded.”--Southwestern Historical Quarterly

“Readers will find it hard to resist becoming fascinated by the risks that these women took, and the degree of market savvy they possessed.”--Western Historical Journal

“The decades’ long work of women historians directing attention to the role their gender played in developing the West is splendidly realized in Texas Women on the Cattle Trails, edited by Sara R. Massey. Sixteen lively, well-researched biographical essays concerning women who accompanied Texas cattle drives between 1868 and 1889 testify to the grit of these individuals.”--Mexico Historical Review


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