Guest blog by: Inger Koppenhaver
Picture this . . . it is the early 1900’s. You have chosen to immigrate to the wild prairie ranch land in Montana. Your goal is to try your hand at raising ponies for the game of polo back in England along with your husband, Ewen, an ornithologist and naturalist. You grew up in an affluent family in which, as a child, you had a dedicated servant to help you with such tasks as brushing your hair. If this sounds familiar, you may also have the title “Lady” spoken before your proper name.
Do you know which frontier photographer matches this description by now? Until the early 1990’s, her name was only shared locally in and around the Terry, Montana area. But, a Time Life books author, DONNA M. LUCEY, was granted permission to view the extensive journals, photographs, and glass plate negatives which were bequeathed to her loyal friend Janet Williams. This large discovery was monumental and it was at that moment the legend of Lady Evelyn Cameron was finally uncovered.
The first time I heard Evelyn Cameron’s story was when I moved to this small picturesque town with its own set of badlands outlining the town which is nestled by the YellowstoneRiver. Viewing the photographs and watching the PBS documentary, “PICTURES FROM A WORTHY LIFE”, has shed light on the fascinating story of her rugged life on the prairie on the Eve Ranch which lies outside of Terry. During a recent viewing of the documentary, I could not help but think of Molly Green and Midge as I learned more about her life.
From growing up in a home with money to spare to moving out on the prairie where they had to scrimp & save to pay for their daily needs and pay for their property; her life became the ultimate example of living frugally and managing a life of sustainable living. Like Midge, Evelyn had to learn the art of homemaking and the tricks of the kitchen and garden which mothers in those times most likely passed along to their children while on the prairie. Even though her neighbors were at times miles away or further, she asked questions, took detailed notes of her daily living, and tried her best to manage her household with limited help from her husband. In her later years, she was able to help others, like Janet Williams, learn the ways of prairie life. I imagine her as a bit like a Molly Green on the Western frontier.
Evelyn Cameron once said that she hoped to live a worthy life. But, she felt like she had missed the mark on her goal. Yet now, with her frontier photography re-discovered and her writings being transcribed, many believe her hopes for life have now become true. Her life was worthy and one from which we can learn (and take notes on!).
Are you familiar with the story of Lady Evelyn Cameron? Which historical figures inspire you? Have you, like Evelyn, crafted a vision for your life and set one goal which you hope to attain?
Recently, I wrote a brief K-5th curriculum for Schoolhouse Teachers called Ditch the Desk ~ Evelyn Cameron. In this curriculum, you can step back in time with your children and learn more about this captivating woman and her tremendous frontier spirit. If you would like to learn more about this frontier photographer and this period of time, you can click on this link: DITCH THE DESK ~ Evelyn Cameron and you can watch the full documentary for free here: “PICTURES FROM A WORTHY LIFE” For more information, click here: EVELYN CAMERON FULL BIOGRAPHY
Inger grew up in a city by the beach in California, but loves living in her small Norman Rockwell kind of town on the prairie in Montana. She is a published author, a homeschool mom of four adorable children who just happens to own a 50′s style café with her mother-in-law. Inger currently writes DITCH THE DESK., a hands-on monthly themed curriculum for K-5th grade. She also writes consistently for Molly Green Magazine and on her PERSONAL BLOG. You can find her cafe HERE.