When Leroy Carpenter left his home in Iowa in April 1871 to pursue farming in Greeley, Colorado, he left behind Martha Bennett, a young lady from De Witt, Iowa. The two had been introduced the previous fall and began writing letters to each other in December of 1870. Over the next sixteen months their correspondence would blend romantic elements with the practical challenges of frontier life, eventually leading to their marriage, which would last fifty-five years. This compilation of fifty-four letters exchanged between Carpenter and Bennett reveals the societal changes facing men and women in the late-nineteenth-century West and provides an alternative to studies of class and gender that tend to focus on the more urban and industrialized Eastern seaboard of the time. Their correspondence reflects their roots in agrarian culture, offering a glimpse into the private world of middle-class, rural America and the social, political, religious, and economic landscape that affected their lives.
Daniel Tyler is emeritus professor of history, Colorado State University. He is the author of eight books, including The Silver Fox of the Rockies: Delphus E. Carpenter and Western Water Compacts and The Mythical Pueblo Rights Doctrine: Water Administration in Hispanic New Mexico. Betty Henshaw assisted Tyler in the transcription and analysis of Leroy's and Martha's letters. She resides in Cincinnati, Ohio.