Craig native’s work focuses on women homesteaders
Copies of "Women of Northwestern Colorado: Glimpses of Our Lives, 1890-1940" are available at Downtown Books, 543 Yampa Ave. and the Museum of Northwest Colorado, 590 Yampa Ave.
If they needed medicine, they brewed it themselves.
If they needed a well, they dug it by hand.
If they wanted a doll, they made it from pages from a catalogue.
These tasks were part of everyday life for some women living in Northwest Colorado from the late 1800s well into the 20th century.
Julie Jones-Eddy, a 1960 Moffat County High School graduate who now lives in Colorado Springs, has collected stories from women who homesteaded in Moffat and Rio Blanco counties. Her work, collected both in print and video, took center stage Saturday during a presentation at Craig City Hall.
About 10 people attended the event, in which Jones-Eddy explained the inspiration for her work and read excerpts from her book, “Homesteading Women: An oral history of Colorado, 1890 to 1950.”
Craig resident Carol Jacobson, who teaches an oral history course at Colorado Northwestern Community College’s Craig campus, organized the presentation.
“Homesteading Women,” which was published in 1992 and is now out of print, was Jones-Eddy’s attempt to capture what life was like for women who either chose or were born into the homesteader’s life.
Her perspective on local history differed from that of her peers.
“The histories that were written of this area, up until I did this, were primarily about the men,” she said.
Using grants from the Colorado Endowment for the Humanities, Jones-Eddy collected oral histories from 47 women in Craig, Meeker and Rangely. From those interviews, she created both the book and a video entitled, “Women of Northwestern Colorado: Glimpses of Our Lives, 1890-1940.”
The book and video gave a glimpse into what life was like for women and young girls living on homesteads in rural Northwest Colorado.
Take Audrey Oldland, for instance, a late Meeker resident.
“There were chores the boys did and chores the girls did,” she said in an interview with Jones-Eddy, “but it always seemed to me that I wasn’t considered a boy and I wasn’t considered a girl.”
During the day, Oldland would rake hay in the fields.
At night, when she had returned home, she helped her sisters with household chores.
At one point, she worked for a local woman, earning 50 cents a day. While her employer worked in the hayfields, Oldland remained in the house, washing the breakfast dishes and preparing the noon meal.
Oldland was 12 years old at the time.
Jones-Eddy’s video, which she showed to her audience Saturday, described aspects of a homesteading woman’s life, from the homemade cures with which they doctored their families to the entertainment they created.
Photographs played on the screen to demonstrate her point.
Some scenes showed sprawling, empty landscapes dotted with sagebrush – settings in which pioneer women lived their lives.
Others showed pictures of the women themselves: Girls in simple dresses warming themselves by the fire or a pair of women in plain dresses and aprons.
In one black-and-white photograph, a woman wearing a close-fitting vest and a white shirt stood with her hands on her hips, smiling into the camera.
Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org.