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“A dandy account of a cowboy’s life in the 1880s and 1890s.”—American Cowboy
“Plumb interesting reading. . . . These were the days most of us dream about and treasure but couldn’t survive. Days better dreamed about. You’ll enjoy this one.”—Tri-State Livestock News
“Dakota is rich with the details of ranch life during the period. Hamilton’s own experience mirrored what was happening in the region at the time, when the open range was giving way to smaller ranches. He was a careful observer, who recorded his memories of the weather, soil, wildlife, and landscape in a way that makes this a valuable addition to the historical record of the time.”—South Dakota Magazine
“A remarkable first-hand account about the evolution of agriculture on this far western Dakota frontier. . . . Those interested in getting not just an understanding but a feeling for what it was like to be a farmer and rancher on the late-nineteenth-century far western Dakota frontier will want to read this very readable autobiography.”—Annals of Wyoming
Wolves, mosquitoes, and gumbo were among the challenges confronting pioneer rancher W. H. Hamilton in Dakota in the 1880s and 1890s. A trailblazer in the transition from the open range to the small ranch, Hamilton loved the free cowboy life and the wild country between his Belle Fourche River homestead and his Cave Hills ranch.
Written many years after he left northwestern South Dakota, Hamilton’s autobiography is rich with details of farming, ranching, stock handling, hunting, and extended family life and abounds with observations about weather, soil, wildlife, and the landscape.
In an Introduction, agricultural and folkways historian Thomas D. Isern, professor of history at North Dakota State University in Fargo, provides background on the range cattle industry and describes the landscape of the country that W. H. Hamilton called home. Virginia Hamilton Baldwin, a granddaughter of W. H. Hamilton, contributes the Foreword.