Book Review: More Than Petticoats: Remarkable Montana Women (Gayle C. Shirley): WW | HistoryNet MENU

Book Review: More Than Petticoats: Remarkable Montana Women (Gayle C. Shirley): WW

8/12/2001 • Reviews, Wild West Reviews

Lucia Darling’s first look at Bannack City in 1863, as she later wrote, “was not an inspiring one.” But the 23-year-old womanfrom Ohio proved to be an asset to the wild boom town that would become the first territorial capital of Montana. Darlingbecame, according to author Gayle Shirley, “the first Montanan to teach a full term of school in a building erected solely forthat purpose.” Sheriff Henry Plummer, the alleged mastermind of a road agent gang, was hanged on January 10, 1864, withinsight of Darling’s home and classroom. Darling (1839?1905) returned to Ohio the next year, but her short stay in Montana hadbeen an inspiring one. “By bringing with her to the West the influence of education,” Shirley writes, “she helped the territorymold its new citizens and fostered hope for its future.” Darling is one of 14 inspiring women from Montana’s past (all were bornbefore 1900) presented in this interesting 142-page book. You’ll also find a chapter on champion bronc rider Fannie SperrySteele, who also happens to be the subject of “Westerners” in this issue of Wild West (P. 14); Mary Fields, a blackfrontierswoman who was the “Westerner” in the February 1996 issue (P. 32); and Fields’ good friend, the Catholic nun andmissionary Mother Mary Amadeus. Some of the other inspiring women whose stories are told include Pretty Shield, a Crowhealer; Nancy Cooper Russell, who married and inspired artist Charles M. Russell; Evelyn Cameron, frontier photographer;and Helen P. Clarke, Indian advocate.


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