The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993 Page: 626

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Southwestern Historical Quarterly

When the Stoners made the month-long trip west to Edwards County in 1881
to seek out new farming land, they spent a short time in San Antonio, which An-
na described in a letter to her mother as "the crookedest town" she had ever
seen, referring to its many saloons and gambling halls. Later she saw more of the
city and liked it better, pronouncing it charming.
Living in tents, the Stoners bought sheep and goats and set up housekeeping
in the upper Nueces River canyon. When Anna was pregnant with their third
child in 1884, Clinton died; she lived for seventy more years, founding a 3,000-
acre ranch in Uvalde County and becoming only the sixth female member of the
American Angora Goat Breeders Association.
The volume is valuable to scholars of the nineteenth century and women's
studies, but it also has merit for the general reader, who will wish for more ex-
cerpts from the letters and perhaps think of that packet stashed away in the attic.
Promise to the Land: Essays on Rural Women. By Joan M. Jensen (Albuquerque: Uni-
versity of New Mexico Press, 1991. Pp. xii+319. Preface, introduction, black-
and-white photographs, map, tables, notes, index. $27.50.)
Since the emergence of women's history in the early 197os, a great deal of at-
tention has been paid to American women of all classes who lived in the towns
and cities. Joan M. Jensen's work in the past fifteen years has encouraged histori-
ans to pay closer attention to women in rural America whose lives have been less
well documented. Promise to the Land is a collection of seventeen essays, about
half of which have been previously published. It begins with a survey of the liter-
ature on farm women and ends with two historiographical discussions which
point the way to further research. In between, Jensen includes essays that range
from a description of her own experiment in communal agriculture in southern
Colorado in the 970os to a discussion of the role of women in sixteenth- and sev-
enteenth-century Pueblo villages in New Mexico.
By her own admission, Jensen's interest in the lives of rural women is very
much a product of her own experience and heritage. Because rural women can
be relatively inarticulate, Jensen has used a wide variety of methodologies. Her
discussion of the life of a Lithuanian farm woman in upstate New York is based
on oral history. The reconstruction of her grandmother's experience as a farm
wife in Wisconsin in the early twentieth century combined oral history and ge-
nealogical research based on government records. She also uses census data,
photographs, and various examples of material culture combined with archeo-
logical research to reconstruct the lives of women whose experiences have
heretofore been hidden.
The picture that Jensen is able to piece together shows hard-working rural
women struggling to maintain their own culture while they remain on the land.
It shows the strength of farm women's commitment to their family, community,
and life-style. While they contributed to both the family economy and the mar-
ket economy in myriad ways, they faced the constant threat of poverty and the


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993, periodical, 1993; Austin, Texas. ( accessed October 25, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.