Women’s History Month: The Strong, Independent Women in My Life

I have a great legacy of history from my grandmother and my mother.

My grandmother was a true cowgirl. She was not famous like Alice and Margie Greenough, Prairie Rose Henderson or Bonnie McCarroll, but she did ride steers in rodeos in the 1920s and ’30s, and she was an avid horsewoman. I like to say that I believe she was more at home on the back of a horse than behind a dustmop. Her life was hard, enduring the social stigma of rodeo cowgirls, who were considered “loose women” because they dressed like men and traveled around the country with men, competing with men. She and her family also endured the drought and Great Depression of the 1930s, at one point trailing their herd of horses from Northern Montana to Salmon Idaho, looking for grass to feed them.

I admire her “cowgirl attitude” (to do the hard thing, the right thing and not whine about it) and it is something I’ve tried to live by.

My mother was not a cowgirl, but she knew how to “cowgirl up.” She was a courageous woman who came to the “wilds” of eastern Montana from Germany after World War II to find a better life. She was a nurse and my dad met her while serving in the Army as part of the American Occupation in Germany. When he returned to the States, he wrote and asked her to come to Montana and marry him. She said yes, and then it took two years before she could wade through all the red tape and paperwork to get here. I’ve often thought about how difficult it must have been to immigrate to a new country, learn a new language, new customs, come from an urban setting to an extremely isolated rural area, where people still considered Germans “the enemy,” and where she knew no one except a man she hadn’t see for two years!

I’ve had two novels published based on my grandmother’s life: Cowgirl Dreams and Follow the Dream, and I am working on a third. The fourth book in the series will chronicle my mother’s courageous journey.

I don’t feel like I’ve had to draw on the same well of courage that my grandmother and mother did, and I can only hope that I’m leaving something of note for my nieces and nephews.

Autographed copies of Cowgirl Dreams and Follow the Dream are available from my website http://www.heidimthomas.com They are also available from my publisher, Treble Heart Books http://www.trebleheartbooks.com/SDHeidiThomas.html as hard copy books and e-books. Follow the Dream is available on Kindle.

My blog is https://heidiwriter.wordpress.com

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You certainly have women in your family worthy of your great books. Thank you for sharing them with us.

  2. Your grandmother and mother have divergent truths and strengths in what thye’ve contributed to you. You have the gift to see their stories as inspiration and model and convey that in your work. Great going, Heidi.

  3. I like your grandmother seem nice and a real hero she’s very…….A COWGIRL she’s one of a kind this story touch me please ….write more

  4. Many of the female characters in my novels are strong and independent…in different ways. Enjoyed reading about your real-life heroes. Mine are my mom, my sister, and my wife, as well as my 3 daughters-in-law. I can truly say they are each bulldogs…in their own way.


  5. You say: “I’ve often thought about how difficult it must have been to immigrate to a new country, learn a new language, new customs, come from an urban setting to an extremely isolated rural area”
    It’s actually my dream, but I haven’t figured out which country yet (because I haven’t met The Man yet)! 😉 But then I learned a second language as a child because my father was sent to work abroad fro 8 years, so moving to a different culture/country looks more appealing than daunting to me…

    • Given your interest in the West, how about Montana? Maybe you’d meet “the man” there!

      • Maybe my stay last year was too short… He didn’t show up… this year I’m going more south-west (Navajo, Hopi and Apache), we’ll see what happens! 🙂

  6. I was just over at another post and it was also about strong women. I much prefer women characters who are strong rather than the ones who are weak and victims.

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