The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993

Book Reviews

disintegration of small-farm culture as well as a conspicuous lack of consistent
concern for their welfare from the government and the private sector.
Jensen's collection of essays has a political as well as an educational purpose,
in the sense that she is committed to ensuring that the information which she
has uncovered will be used to incorporate the needs of women into the formula-
tion of public agricultural policy. Thus her work can be as important to the fu-
ture as it is to social history, women's history, and economic history.
Southwest Missouri State University SYLVIA D. HOFFERT
I'll Gather My Geese. By Hallie Crawford Stillwell (College Station: Texas A&M
University Press, 1991. Pp. xii+153. Preface, black-and-white photographs.
$18.50.)
There are not many places on the West Texas plains to hide from the brilliant
sun, and in her autobiography, ranchwoman Hallie Crawford Stillwell makes no
attempt to conceal the ups and downs, twists and turns of what she calls her
"roller coaster" life (p. 101). I'll Gather My Geese is an honest story of relation-
ships between people and land, men and women, husbands and wives, parents
and children, families and neighbors. In a refreshingly straightforward manner,
the author expresses her feminine perspective on everyday experience in a tradi-
tionally masculine way of life.
Hallie, born in 1897, was raised by her mother to become a Southern lady,
but her first steps away from her parents' home in Alpine in 1916 set her on a
different path. Armed with a high school diploma, a teaching certificate, and
her father's best six-shooter, the determined young woman headed for Presidio,
where the routine of teaching was frequently interrupted by hordes of refugees
pouring across the Mexican border to escape Pancho Villa's marauders. The
next year Hallie taught in Marathon, where she met and fell in love with Roy
Stillwell, an established rancher twenty years her senior. After a whirlwind
courtship and impulsive elopement, Roy escorted his bride to the Stillwell
Ranch, twenty-two miles north of the Rio Grande. Because it was safer for her to
spend the day with Roy and his cowboys than to stay alone in a crude cabin so
near the border, Hallie began riding range and working cattle on her first day
on the ranch. She had much to learn about ranch work, beginning with how to
wear pants, and Roy was a stern teacher, preferring to let his wife and hands
work out problems on their own. In enlightening detail, Hallie describes her
fight to prove her merits as ranch hand and wife. Her struggle, often humorous
and occasionally angry, spanned two world wars, the Great Depression, and the
devastating droughts of the 193os and 1950s.
I'll Gather My Geese furnishes an original account of twentieth-century family
ranching in the Big Bend region. The author writes much as she talks, and her
book is a record of Western folklore expressions as well as history. The stark im-
ages which occasionally jump from her narrative, such as her description of her
feelings as the birth of her first child approached: "I stepped into September hot
and large" (p. 68), echo the sudden surprises in her career, like her brief stint

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101215/. Accessed November 26, 2014.