Letters on an Elk Hunt

Elinore Pruitt Stewart (1878 - 1933)

This is a sequel to Letters of a Woman Homesteader in which Elinore Rupert (Pruitt) Stewart describes her arrival and early years on a Burntfork Wyoming ranch in 1909-1913. The letters are written to her elderly friend, Mrs. Coney, in Denver. In the present collection of letters, Elinore describes a lively excursion on horseback and wagon into the Wyoming wilderness during July-October 1914. Her traveling companions are her husband “Mr. Stewart,” their three oldest children, and kind-hearted, opinionated neighbor Mrs. O’Shaughnessy. Mr. Haynes (organizer of the hunt) and his friend, Mr. Struble (the cheerful big man of the party) lead the group, and are also joined by physician Dr. Teschall, “a moving-picture man” Mr. Harkrudder, Professor Glenholdt seeking “the tip-end bone of the tail of a brontosaurus” and his students (“two geological fellows” who “talk of nothing but strata and formation”). Also joining the group is Mr. Murry with his tiresome accordion.

Although some hunting is accomplished on the trip, the overarching focus of Elinore’s letters is on descriptions of awe-inspiring Wyoming scenery and the interesting people she encounters. With her familiar wit and wisdom, Elinore also writes of tragedies and romances she observes during her trip -- that is, whenever Elinore’s effort to observe is not thwarted by “the good mon” Mr. Stewart. In one letter Elinore complains to Mrs. Coney that “Mr. Stewart is the queerest man: instead of letting me enjoy the tableau [the reunion of two long-lost lovers], he solemnly drove on, saying he would not want any one gawking at him if he were the happy man. Anyway, he couldn’t urge Chub [the horse] fast enough to prevent my seeing and hearing what I’ve told you.”

By the time the adventurers are homeward bound with their supply of elk meat, Elinore is homesick for her youngest child, Junior, at home with his grandmother; Mrs. O’Shaughnessy has taken in two young orphans; and quiet, young Mr. Haynes complains good-naturedly about having to travel along with a rolling nursery.

Elinore’s letters capture an interesting transition point in history. People traveled by horse and wagon, there were cowboys and cattle stampedes, and medical care was rustic. At the same time, automobiles and modern medicine, archeology and motion picture making were entering the scene and war was commencing in Europe. (Note to more sensitive readers: Elk hunting is described in Chapters 7 and 8.) (Summary by Lynne Carroll)

Genre(s): Letters

Language: English

Section Chapter Reader Time
Play 01 01 - Connie Willis Lynne Carroll
Play 02 02 - The Start Lynne Carroll
Play 03 03 - Eden Valley Lynne Carroll
Play 04 04 - Crazy Olaf and Others, Part 1 Lynne Carroll
Play 05 05 - Crazy Olaf and Others, Part 2 Lynne Carroll
Play 06 06 - Danyul and His Mother, Part 1 Lynne Carroll
Play 07 07 - Danyul and His Mother, Part 2 Lynne Carroll
Play 08 08 - Elizabeth's Romance Sherri Vance
Play 09 09 - The Hunt Sherri Vance
Play 10 10 - The Seventh Man Lynne Carroll
Play 11 11 - An Indian Camp Lynne Carroll
Play 12 12 - The Tooth-hunters Lynne Carroll
Play 13 13 - Buddy and Baby Girl Lynne Carroll
Play 14 14 - A Stampede Lynne Carroll
Play 15 15 - Nearing Home Lynne Carroll
Play 16 16 - The Memory-bed Lynne Carroll