Synopses & Reviews
Now in paperback, the acclaimed and captivating true story of two restless society girls who left their affluent lives to "rough it" as teachers in the wilds of Colorado in 1916.
In 1916, Dorothy Wickenden's grandmother, Dorothy Woodruff, and her best friend, Rosamund Underwood, left society life in New York to become teachers in a new school — in the wilds of Northwestern Colorado. Traveling by train to Denver and then on horseback for three days, they arrived at the remote outpost of Elkhead, where their students, the children of homesteaders, came to school in rags and bare feet.
Central to their experiences is Ferry Carpenter, the shrewd, witty, and occasionally outrageous young lawyer and cattle rancher who hired them — in part as would-be brides for the locals. Dorothy becomes engaged to a banker in Chicago on their way West, while Rosamund is courted by both Carpenter and his best friend, a handsome mining engineer and the son of one of Denver's wealthiest industrialists.
Nearly 100 years later, Dorothy Wickenden came across the extraordinarily detailed letters these two women sent home to their families, and she reconstructed their adventure. Nothing Daunted is an intimate, quirky story about two intrepid women on a journey that would change their lives forever.
In the summer of 1916, Dorothy Woodruff and Rosamond Underwood, close friends from childhood and graduates of Smith College, left home in Auburn, New York, for the wilds of northwestern Colorado. Bored by their soci-ety luncheons, charity work, and the effete young men who courted them, they learned that two teach-ing jobs were available in a remote mountaintop schoolhouse and applied — shocking their families and friends. “No young lady in our town,” Dorothy later commented, “had ever been hired by anybody.”
They took the new railroad over the Continental Divide and made their way by spring wagon to the tiny settlement of Elkhead, where they lived with a family of homesteaders. They rode several miles to school each day on horseback, sometimes in blinding blizzards. Their students walked or skied on barrel staves, in tattered clothes and shoes tied together with string. The man who had lured them out west was Ferry Carpenter, a witty, idealistic, and occasionally outrageous young lawyer and cattle rancher. He had promised them the adventure of a lifetime and the most modern schoolhouse in Routt County; he hadn't let on that the teachers would be considered dazzling prospective brides for the locals.
That year transformed the children, their families, and the undaunted teachers themselves. Dorothy and Rosamond learned how to handle unruly children who had never heard the Pledge of Allegiance and thought Ferry Carpenter was the president of the United States; they adeptly deflected the amorous advances of hopeful cowboys; and they saw one of their closest friends violently kidnapped by two coal miners. Carpenters marital scheme turned out to be more successful than even he had hoped and had a surprising twist some forty years later.
In their buoyant letters home, the two women captured the voices and stories of the pioneer women, the children, and the other memorable people they got to know. Nearly a hundred years later, New Yorker executive editor Dorothy Wickenden — the granddaughter of Dorothy Woodruff — found the letters and began to reconstruct the women's journey. Enhancing the story with interviews with descendants, research about these vanished communities, and trips to the region, Wickenden creates an exhilarating saga about two intrepid young women and the “settling up” of the West.
The acclaimed and captivating true story of two restless society girls who left their affluent lives to and#8220;rough itand#8221; as teachers in the wilds of Colorado in 1916.andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;In the summer of 1916, Dorothy Woodruff and Rosamond Underwood, bored by society luncheons, charity work, and the effete men who courted them, left their families in Auburn, New York, to teach school in the wilds of northwestern Colorado. They lived with a family of homesteaders in the Elkhead Mountains and rode to school on horseback, often in blinding blizzards. Their students walked or skied, in tattered clothes and shoes tied together with string. The young cattle rancher who had lured them west, Ferry Carpenter, had promised them the adventure of a lifetime. He hadnand#8217;t let on that they would be considered dazzling prospective brides for the locals.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; Nearly a hundred years later, Dorothy Wickenden, the granddaughter of Dorothy Woodruff, found the teachersand#8217; buoyant letters home, which captured the voices of the pioneer women, the children, and other unforgettable people the women got to know. In reconstructing their journey, Wickenden has created an exhilarating saga about two intrepid women and the and#8220;settling upand#8221; of the West.
About the Author
andlt;Bandgt;Dorothy Wickendenandlt;/Bandgt; has been the executive editor of andlt;iandgt;The New Yorkerandlt;/iandgt; since January 1996. andnbsp;She also writes for the magazine and is the moderator of its weekly podcast and#8220;The Political Scene.and#8221; She is on the faculty of The Writersand#8217; Institute at CUNYand#8217;s Graduate Center, where she teaches a course on narrative nonfiction. A former Nieman Fellow at Harvard, Wickenden was national affairs editor at andlt;iandgt;Newsweekandlt;/iandgt; from 1993-1995 and before that was the longtime executive editor at andlt;iandgt;The New Republic.andlt;/iandgt; She lives with her husband and her two daughters in Westchester, New York.