Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West
Nothing Daunted The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West Author:Dorothy Wickenden Dorothy Woodruff and Rosamond Underwood attended grade school and Smith College together, spent nine months on a grand tour of Europe in 1910, and then, bored with society luncheons and chaperoned balls and not yet ready for marriage, they went off to teach the children of homesteaders in a remote schoolhouse on the Western Slope of Colorado. Th... more »ey traveled on the new railroad over the Continental Divide and by wagon to Elkhead, a tiny settlement far from the nearest town. Their students came to school from miles away in tattered clothes and shoes tied together with string.
Dorothy Woodruff was the grandmother of New Yorker executive editor Dorothy Wickenden. Nearly one hundred years later, Wickenden found the buoyant, detailed, colorful letters the two women wrote to their families. Through them, she has chronicled their trials in the classroom, the cowboys and pioneering women they met, and the violent kidnapping of a close friend. Central to their narrative is Ferry Carpenter, the witty, idealistic, and occasionally outrageous young lawyer and cattle rancher who hired them, in part because he thought they would make attractive and cultivated brides. None of them imagined the transforming effect the year would have -- on the children, the families, and the teachers.
Wickenden set out on her own journey to discover what two intrepid Eastern women found when they went West, and what America was like at that uncertain moment, with the country poised for the First World War, but going through its own period of self-discovery.
Drawing upon the letters, interviews with descendants, research about these vanished communities, and trips to the region, Wickenden creates a compelling, original saga about the two intrepid young women and the “settling up” of the West.« less
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I read this book in two days, because I just couldn't put it down! Two young women in 1916, flaunting the social mores of their time, go to the wild west to teach young children in a mining town. They are both delightful and their story, told by the granddaughter of one of them, comes to life through their letters and journals. A good read!
booksaverb reviewed Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West on
Helpful Score: 2
This is an enjoyable read. Wickenden provides a well-researched glimpse into 1916 Routt County Colorado history and the upper reaches of back country society, as experienced by two recent Smith graduates from Albany, NY. Though the girls came from a wealthy and pampered upbringing, and had no previous teaching experience whatsoever, they changed lives among their students and school families during a year spent teaching in the mountains above Hayden.
We all should be so lucky as to have our mothers/grandmothers hand us a folder of personal letters to backbone research for such a lively book! Heard Ms. Wickenden speak at THE TATTERED COVER in lower downtown Denver--she did an excellent job of interweaving Routt County/Western Slope ranch and mining history with stories of the growth of Denver, Colorado's second choice of capitol. Drew a capacity crowd.
Too bad someone stole the audio visual equipment--so no illustrations.
A wonderful story which really pulled me along. How some of the children got to school every day was amazing. Old timers tell stories about walking miles through snow, but some of these children had to do that in snow drifts up to their necks. They knew the value of education and wanted to be taught!
This book would make a great mini-series, except there are no vampires or zombies. :-)
I don't understand the poor reviews given here. What those reviewers saw as 'padding' was to me some of the best parts of the book. It helped flesh out and provide background for the stories of the two young women teaching for the first time. If it had just been about the teachers the book would have been boring.