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Women played a vital and, until recently, frequently overlooked role in the settlement of the American West. They were not only mothers, schoolteachers, and nurses, but also cowgirls, outlaws, and ranchers. Mary Rak's career as a ranchwoman, and eventually an author, began in 1919, when she and her husband Charles Lukeman Rak purchased a 22,000-acre spread fifty miles north of Douglas, Arizona. She went on to recount her struggle to learn the cattle business and cope with the numerous problems of life on an isolated ranch.
The new introduction to this rangeland classic was written by the late Sandra L. Myres. Her research into the lives and writings of ranchwomen provides an excellent background for understanding Mary Rak and her work.
Originally from Tennessee, Washington and Mary West moved to Lavaca County, Texas, in the early 1850s. There they raised three sons who were destined to leave an indelible mark on the Texas cattle industry. At the end of the Civil War, George, the eldest, made his first trail drives as so many Texans did. But unlike many who made the trip, George saw the venture as the business of moving cattle to market and became a professional drover. As his brothers Sol and Ike came of age, George brought them into his already growing business of trailing cattle herds north. The brothers became some of the most important drovers in cattle business, standing out during the era of the great trail drives. In their lifetimes their accomplishments were legendary, but today they have been largely forgotten. Their history and achievements are examined in this beautiful volume illustrated with photographs and personal effects from the family.