Trials of the Earth

The True Story of a Pioneer Woman


By Mary Mann Hamilton

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The astonishing first-person account of Mississippi pioneer woman struggling to survive, protect her family, and make a home in the early American South.

Near the end of her life, Mary Mann Hamilton (1866 – c.1936) began recording her experiences in the backwoods of the Mississippi Delta. The result is this astonishing first-person account of a pioneer woman who braved grueling work, profound tragedy, and a pitiless wilderness (she and her family faced floods, tornadoes, fires, bears, panthers, and snakes) to protect her home in the early American South.

An early draft of Trials of the Earth was submitted to a writers’ competition sponsored by Little, Brown in 1933. It didn’t win, and we almost lost the chance to bring this raw, vivid narrative to readers. Eighty-three years later, in partnership with Mary Mann Hamilton’s descendants, we’re proud to share this irreplaceable piece of American history. Written in spare, rich prose, Trials of the Earth is a precious record of one woman’s extraordinary endurance and courage that will resonate with readers of history and fiction alike.


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by Helen Dick Davis

I FIRST SAW Mary Hamilton on a raw November day. The wheels of our Ford had mired down to the running board in the black gumbo mud of the Mississippi Delta and had been dug out twice in the course of the four miles that lay between our house and that of my friend Edris. The third time it stuck we abandoned the car, my husband and I, and walked the remaining half-mile. Clumping across the wide open hall that extended the full length of the house, our feet still heavy with gumbo although we had scraped pounds of it off outside, we opened the door upon a tiny, hunchbacked, white-haired old lady sitting by the fire. She was patching some hunting pants and at the sight of us gathered them hastily into her arms, as if to protect them, since she could not protect herself from our gaze, which clearly embarrassed her. She spoke a little breathlessly, getting quickly to her feet.

"You must be Helen. Edie never dreamed you'd get here—it's such a bad day. I'll go tell her."

And with a step surprisingly strong for one who looked so desperately frail, she swung down the hall towards the kitchen. I knew it was Edris's mother, but I didn't see her again that day. When I knew her better and saw her run always at the sight of strangers, I knew she did it because she is as vain as a girl and is embarrassed by the hump on her back, caused by a bad fall about fifteen years ago. She is afraid she doesn't look just right, with the hump and with her soft white hair that will hang in a fringe around her forehead no matter how many times a day she combs it. I came to know this about her, because when spring came and the four miles of gumbo between our house and Edris's dried out from a bottomless loblolly to a surface so hard you couldn't drive an axe into it, I saw Mary Hamilton often. She began to talk to me of her life nearly half a century ago in this same Mississippi Delta where we live now, and which then was a wilderness of untouched timber and canebrakes, a jungle of briars and vines and undergrowth.

At first she talked to me only in snatches, half apologetically, as if expecting to be interrupted any minute. I realized she had never before talked of those old days to anyone but her children, to whom the events she described must have been harrowing enough at the time. Hearing the stories retold must be difficult, because her children are all still young enough to dream of a future easier than the past. But to me those memories were more fascinating than any tales I had ever heard, and hearing them firsthand added to the enchantment. I would listen to her, spellbound, for hours.

From the beginning, her life has been one of tragedy, violence, and incredible adventure, although it would be hard to imagine anyone seemingly less fitted for that kind of life than Mary Hamilton. But if Henry James is right, and I am inclined to agree with him, that we carry in our own souls or egos or cores of our beings the germs of every event that happens to us, then Mary Hamilton's essence must be tragedy and courage. For as Stephen Crane once wrote of a Canadian gentleman, "Destiny sets an alarm clock so as to be up early and strew banana peels in front of him. If he trusts a friend, he is betrayed; if he starts a journey, he breaks an ankle. If he loves, death comes to her without a smile."

Nevertheless, this is not a book of repining; it is a tale simply told of what one woman has lived through in the Mississippi Delta. I say "lived through" because at times this history reads like a record of the extreme limits of human endurance. One of its most amazing qualities is the writer's own unawareness of this fact. At the very end of the book, when she speaks of dying, she is still able to say, innocently and with no thought of irony, that she will soon be going to a better world if such can be. The italics are mine. In spite of everything, Mrs. Hamilton has found this world good, and so this is a book of much laughter as well as tragedy. For a picture of courage and a spirit that can know no defeat, I do not know its equal. It was always the dream of a home that carried her through the hardships of pioneering, seemingly unbearable tragedies with her children, and a relationship with her husband that was, to the end, filled with mystery. Yet she remains today, as she has been all her life, homeless. In that sense it is a record of defeat, but only in that sense.

When I began to beg her to write down the account of her life, if only as a record for her children and grandchildren, she did it just to please me. She wrote it piecemeal at first, just scattered experiences, ten or fifteen pages at a time written with pencil on cheap tablet paper: stories of terrible floodwaters, cyclones, feuds to the death, escaped Negro convicts. I became zealous about letting a larger audience have a chance to read so unique and interesting a record. When I first made the suggestion, Mrs. Hamilton hesitated. It looked like too big an undertaking. She write a book? Why, she'd never written more than a few letters in her life until she began writing those little sketches for me.

But the following fall she had a severe hemorrhage while visiting at her son's home, and on the first day that she was able to write, I got this letter from her:

Dearest Helen,

This is the first day I have sat up and I am going to write you the very first one, my best friend. I am convinced I am a selfish old lady, and it was a dream I had yesterday morning convinced me.

I dreamed I was in a swamp. The ground was covered with black water and black moss, but no mud. On all sides of me rose lilies, white as snow. They grew on large jet black stems. It was a pretty sight, those big white lilies in such clusters and so close to the path they hung over it till I could see nothing but flowers and the rank black bushes, with just a glimpse of the sky above, bright and full of stars. The path was so narrow I couldn't turn around.

There were two children, yours, Helen, laughing and crowding so close behind me. I began breaking off the flowers—the stems were hollow—and handing them back to the children. I had them loaded down with those great white blossoms. I was tired and wanted to rest, but they kept crowding so close and saying, "More, please, more." At last I came to where the path was closed with a tangle of the same lilies only larger, finer. I spoke for the first time. "You get no more, children. This last is mine." As I spoke I reached for the very finest one for myself. But when I broke it off the ugliest black snake head popped out from the hollow stem, bit at my finger, but just grazed it. I screamed and fell back against little Nick, still holding my own broken lily. He looked at me with a sweet smile on his face, his arms loaded with those beautiful flowers, and said, "It's all right, Hampleton. You all right." Louvica's arms too were filled with flowers, but she only smiled.

I woke with a start. Was I going to die? Was that snake head that just grazed my finger, Death? I woke Edie, sleeping on the side of my bed to take care of me, and told her I was afraid I was fixing to have a hemorrhage, for you know since the fall that crippled me I have so many of them. She jumped up, lit the lamp and said, "Mamma dear, you had that several days ago. You are better now." She bathed my head with cold water, and told me to go back to sleep. Said it was just five o'clock. But I lay awake thinking about my dream, and when the late mail that day brought your letter to Edris I felt sure that my dream meant something and I had been spared for some purpose. Do you remember in your letter you said that Nick woke you at five o'clock calling my name and reaching up his hand to greet me as he always does? I can't help believing that my little friend Nick, himself so lately from the Beyond, by coming to me in my dream and laughing at my selfishness, has given me courage to work on to the end of the trail. I believe that I have been spared to gather for myself that last and largest white lily, the writing down in a book the memories of a lifetime.

So I will write down for you the true happenings of my life, and if I succeed all honor goes to Nick. I can hardly wait till I get home to start work and to see you. I love you.

Your friend

Mary Hamilton

This letter was written in September of 1932. By spring of 1933 Mary Hamilton had given me 150,000 words on this book. I have edited it, worked over it with her, and guided her in her choice of material, but I have in no case added to nor changed what she wrote. My whole work has been to cut down, for once she started remembering there was nowhere to stop. The memories of the busy difficult days of her wifehood and motherhood have been minutely stored in her brain, as bees store honey, so that every smallest event of every day of her life is there: what they had to eat at each Thanksgiving dinner, what became of every neighbor they had in the wilderness of the woods. It has been my task to strain the comb from the honey, removing the less interesting material and leaving in the dramatic and moving events that happened to Mary Hamilton herself, her husband, and her children.

I want to reassure the reader that my presence does not enter the book. I have not touched her style, nor embellished her material. It is a direct and simple autobiography. Deep in her heart I think there remains a wistful, unadmitted hope that the book if published may fall into the hands of someone who will be able to tell her children the full identity of the man who was their father. For that mystery has remained the abiding tragedy of her life and theirs.

Philipp, Mississippi


Part One

The Wild Country of Arkansas

The Binding

IN THE EARLY 1880s my father brought his family from Missouri down into the wild country of Arkansas that was just beginning to settle up. The Kansas City and Memphis [Railway] was just being graded through, and trains were running only as far as the little sawmill town of Sedgwick, so there we stopped to wait until the road was completed into the prairie country near Jonesboro, where my father expected to buy a home. Within a week he took pneumonia and three days later died, leaving my mother and six children stranded and helpless in a strange country.

Sam and Billie, my older brothers, went to work at the sawmill, and as we had the only livable house in town, we took a few boarders. I was seventeen, and with the help of my sister Lucy, thirteen, and a Negro woman, I did all the cooking. Jane, the sister between Lucy and me, had been a cripple for five years, and had never walked a step without the aid of a crutch. At the age of nine she had been thrown against an elm tree that had been twisted off in a storm, and a sliver ran almost through her ankle and broke off. The bone was affected and the leaders* drawn, and we thought her a cripple for life. But she was lots of help and comfort to us all.

I was timid and bashful, getting just the right age to be thinking about boys, or rather to be teased about them, and my brothers and younger sisters never missed a chance. One day just a few weeks after Father died, Jane opened the living room door and called me from the kitchen. I thought something was wrong and so never stopped to take off my apron. My sleeves were rolled up and flour was on my hands. I went rushing like a whirlwind into the front room, where I almost ran over a man standing in the middle of the room, his hat in his hand. He bowed, amused at my embarrassment. Jane said, "Mary, this gentleman wants to board with us two or three weeks, and as you are the cook, can we keep him?"

The man laughed, introduced himself as Frank Hamilton, and said, "You seem to be the boss as well as the cook. I have three men with me. We only want meals, for two weeks. We have our own camping outfit."

Just then my mother came in and I turned to her and said, "Yes, we can manage their meals," and with my face burning with embarrassment, I flew back to the kitchen. I knew I looked a sight on earth, and to make it worse I could hear him and Jane laughing and talking, for they were good friends from the start.

I didn't think I could ever face him again, but as I had to wait on table I couldn't help it. He was about thirty years old, of medium height and build, with a light complexion, brown hair, and piercing steel-gray eyes. He carried himself as straight as a soldier or athlete. We knew from the way he talked he was an Englishman.

The more I saw of him the more I disliked him, but I don't know why and didn't know then, for, although he held himself aloof, he was friendly enough with all of us and took the greatest interest in little Jane. He gave her books to read, helped her with her lessons, and was always doing kind things for her.

Before his two weeks were up he took down with rheumatism, and the superintendent of the mill, Mr. Gray, persuaded him to throw up timberwork for the railroad and go to bookkeeping for the mill company. Frank told me years afterwards his object in staying was me. Yet up to that time I had never spoken to him except when I had to, although he had won my respect and gratitude and all the family's for what he did for Jane. He persuaded my mother and brothers to get a doctor of his choice to come and operate on her at home. Hospitals weren't so plentiful in those days. He said the doctor would operate for twenty-five dollars and if he didn't cure her, he wouldn't charge anything. Jane begged so hard Mother gave her consent.

The day the plaster cast was taken off, she took her first step in five years and walked straight to Frank, her eyes full of tears. "I will always think of you as the best man on earth. I have you to thank for my life."

Frank said, "No, it is the doctor you have to thank, not me."

All the family but me crowded around Frank and the doctor. I slipped out to keep from thanking him, for something about him made me know he held himself above us, didn't want or need our thanks, for all his kindness. I respected him more than ever but disliked him more, for now we were all under obligation to him, as I knew that operation had cost more than any twenty-five dollars. When I saw him slipping out a few minutes later—he was sick and looked so pale and lonely, but self-sufficient—was the feeling that stirred in me for him hate, or was it love? Oh no, not love; I was sure I didn't love him, yet something seemed to say, "It is fate, and it will bind your life to his to the end of the trail." I wonder if that was love and have wondered hundreds of times since.

About that time the mill was being enlarged, work was pushing farther out into the woods, and Frank was taken on as assistant superintendent, in addition to his other work as bookkeeper. He was never very popular with the men. They thought him a bigheaded dude, a man of mystery, for the simple reason that he stood for no interference and tended to his own business. He was polite to everyone but claimed no friends.

My oldest brother, Billie, held a good job and made good money; Sam, my next brother, had a better job than Billie's and made more money but wasn't steady, didn't work regular. He had a small crop of wild oats to sow and never let his work interfere with his oat sowing, so we couldn't depend on him for much. But we were able to live now without keeping boarders, and as that left me very little to do, Mother sent me back to her old home in Illinois to go to school. When I got there and saw how far behind others my age I was, I wouldn't go to school but went to work instead for a cousin of mine in her dressmaking and tailoring shop to learn the trade.

Up to the time I left, Frank and I had been cool and polite to each other, but we were not friends. So I was surprised when I got a letter from him soon after I got to Illinois. Just a nice friendly letter telling me all the news about his work and how they all missed me, especially my baby brother, Johnny, who was just six. In it, Frank said how sorry he was that I wasn't going to school. Important as it made me feel to think that proud Frank Hamilton would write to me, that part about my not going to school made me mad. He was no friend of mine and it was none of his business. When I answered his letter I didn't mention school. As the months went by, I got a letter from him every week. I never wanted to see or talk to him again, but I was glad to get his letters.

Three months from the time I left Arkansas, I got a telegram saying my mother and Billie were dying of pneumonia and to come home at once. My brother died two days after I got there, and my mother followed him in just one week. But before they died, they each begged a promise from me. When I first went in the room to see Billie, dying quietly so Mother in the next room wouldn't know it, he sent the others out and said to me straight out, "Mary, I am dying and my death will kill our mother. If Sam was a steady boy you could keep the family together, but he isn't. Mary, do you like Hamilton enough to marry him? If you do he will give the children a home until they get homes of their own."

It was a terrible shock to me. I told Billie that Hamilton couldn't care for me, and if he did it was asking too much of him. But Billie said, "Frank does care for you. We talked this over yesterday and he himself proposed doing this for the children. He asked Mother and me for you long ago. He is a man of too much honor to speak to you without having got our consent first."

I had the strangest feeling that I had known all along, since the first day I saw him, that something like this would happen, but that didn't keep me from resenting it. Why was Frank Hamilton always trying to put us under obligation to him? How could I promise to marry him, disliking him as I did? But Billie was dying, and I promised. That evening my mother begged me for the same promise. Twice in one day I promised to marry Frank Hamilton, and he had never asked me.

A week later we sold all our worldly goods to pay the funeral expenses and doctor bills. We children were heartbroken and alone, not knowing which way to turn. Sam was nineteen years old, but he wasn't steady. Neighbors came and gave their advice and sympathy, but that didn't solve our problem.

Frank said nothing to me about marriage, and I hoped and prayed he wouldn't. I wanted to forget the promise I had made my mother and brother. If Frank had asked them for me I felt it was because I was healthy and strong, a good cook and nurse, and yes, I was not bad-looking. He had as much as told me I was good-looking in a letter he wrote me urging me to go to school. "You will marry someday," he wrote, "and all men want an educated wife, not a tailor."

Two weeks after Mother died, he came to me and asked me to marry him. I told him, "No, you want an educated wife, not a tailor."

He said, "I would prefer your having more schooling, but I can teach you, and very few girls in this country have the common sense you have. You must use it now for the good of both of us, Mary. I talked to your mother, told her how tired I was of boarding around from pillar to post, with nowhere I could call home. You can make a home for me and for your sisters and brothers."

I tried to understand my feelings for him. To be honest, I admired him more than any man I had ever seen, but I did not love him, and I couldn't believe he loved me. Lucy said I did love him but just didn't have sense enough to know it.

I said, "But he thinks he is so far above us."

Jane said, "He is above us. He can't help knowing it, but he has never mentioned it or acted like it. He knows we are honest and straight. You had better marry and settle down, take Johnny and Lucy. Sam has promised to work and send me to school in Kansas."

Everything and everybody was trying to crowd me into a marriage I didn't want. As I look back, I believe I loved him even then; but I was young and had a will and dreams of my own. I was eighteen that May, and one afternoon in July Frank came to me with a marriage license. Said we would wait no longer. There was no word of love on either side. I remembered my promise to my mother and determined to do my best to make the home Frank had talked to my mother about wanting as near perfect as I could. We were married that day.

He had built rooms onto his office, and we were to live there. Lucy and Johnny were to live with us. Sam was working steady and had sent Jane to school in Kansas. The rooms were nicely furnished, and the kitchen and pantry were stocked with everything to eat. I was glad. I was a good cook and never happier than when cooking. After the first meal I cooked, Frank came into the kitchen and said, "Mary, I want you to cook my way for me, but don't let that stop you cooking for yourself Yankee-style. I can't stand anything fried in lard nor boiled with fat meat. I have had fat meat and bacon shoved at me so much the five years I've been in this country I can't meet a hog in the road without shedding tears of grease. Use butter in my food instead of lard."

I was glad to try and suit him. He liked a cup of coffee when he got up of a morning, then a breakfast of toast, coffee, and eggs at eight; dinner at twelve, of beef in some form, soup, and vegetables seasoned with butter. At four o'clock he wanted a bit of cheese, bread and butter, and a glass of beer; then supper. It took me a long time to get used to his way of cooking, but I tried hard to learn and he took great pains showing me. I knew I pleased him, but he never praised me in one thing, and he gave me to understand that he picked our friends. When a gossipy man or woman came to see us, he would be so cool they never came again. Then he would say to me, "It is better to treat them so. They are just trying to pry into my business and the company's."

He even chose the books I read, books I had never heard of before: Kipling, Charles Lamb, Dumas, Robert Burns. To me he seemed like a man that had taken a silly child to raise rather than a wife. I didn't even know what salary he was getting for a year after we were married. As time went on I found there were plenty other things I didn't know, too.

The first thing I found out was that he drank. It was funny the way I found it out. I had heard he drank but didn't believe it, and as I had never seen a drunk man, I wasn't hard to fool. Frank had one man he called his friend then, Jim Thompson from Michigan. Jim was a machinist working for the mill company. He took supper with us one night in September, and he and Frank went out together after supper. Frank told me they had some business to attend to and he would be late, so Lucy and I went on to bed. Business often kept him out late, but I had thought nothing of it.

About eleven o'clock someone knocked on the door, and I called, "Is that you, Frank?"

Jim Thompson answered, "Yes, Mrs. Hamilton, Frank is bad sick."

I opened the door so quick. There was Frank leaning on Jim and groaning terribly. Jim said, "He has had a hard chill and must get to bed quick," and he started to take him to his bedroom. But I happened to know something about chills so I took charge.

"You put him right down on that sofa, and you go for a doctor quick as you can."

Jim helped him onto the sofa and rushed off, I thought for a doctor, but found out afterwards it was to keep from bursting out laughing, for he saw what Frank was in for. I covered Frank up good and warm, wheeled him up to the stove, threw in wood and kindling, poured coal oil over it, and set it afire. He stood it about fifteen minutes, then threw off the cover, jumped up, and started for the door, me right after him begging him to come back. I thought he was delirious and almost dead. Lucy was helping me try to get him back on the sofa, but he fought us off and got to the edge of the gallery. Then I saw why he'd been in such a hurry. Between spasms he yelled at us to let him alone, he wasn't sick, but "drunk, just plain drunk," and all he wanted was to be let strictly alone.

Well, he was let strictly alone. I shoved the sofa back from the fire, put the fire out, raised the windows, and went to bed. I thought the shock of seeing him like that would kill me.

Next morning I got up at five o'clock as usual to make him coffee and get our breakfast. I took him his coffee and asked him how he felt.

"All right," he said. "Why shouldn't I feel all right?"

"Don't your conscience hurt you, deceiving me like you did?" I began.

But he waved me away, saying, "I know I acted dirty, damn dirty, but I must tell you right now preaching won't do any good. I don't believe in lady preachers. I came to America because it's a free country, and because I couldn't stand petticoat government any longer."

I said, "Wait, I don't believe in women preachers either, but I want to say one thing. I am not asking you to quit drinking if you can't. But I do ask you to bring your liquor home. I won't nag you, and when you get too helpless to get up and get it, I'll bring it to you. Just don't let anyone else see you as I saw you last night."

He looked at me so hard and said, "That is a bargain. You live up to your part and I will do mine."

From then on I began to see he needed me far more than I needed him. He had rheumatism and would take spells that would last for days. Sometimes it was in his limbs and again it would strike in his chest, or the blood would rush to his head. His suffering at those times was terrible, and I tried so hard to do all I could for him. The only relief he got was from drawing the blood from his head by what was called in those days "dry cupping."

I will never forget the first time I used the dry cups on him. He showed me and told me how to do it, but it looked so cruel. I was nervous. The glasses used were made much like jelly glasses but were thin as watch crystal. I was to take a little soft brush, dip it in alcohol, wet the inside of the glass with it, and set the glass afire. When it got to burning good I was to press it down on the shoulder near the spine. It would draw the blood and flesh up into the glass till the glass was full; then I was to take a little ivory knife, slip it under one side of the glass to let air in, and the glass would come off easy. But that first time I lost my head, and when the cup filled with flesh, I threw the knife down, grabbed a cloth and wrapped it around that glass, and began to pull. I was strong, and fear lent me extra strength, so in spite of Frank's groans and struggles I got the glass off but left a blister as big around as a saucer on Frank's back. It made a scar he took to his grave. He didn't scold, but a few days later when I told him I thought his head got better quicker that day than it had before and that was the way the glasses were meant to be used, he looked at me so straight and said, "You know jolly well no doctor expected me to have my back barbecued."


  • One of the Best Books of the Year, The Chicago Tribune
  • "It's the backstory that will first grab a reader, but it's Hamilton's gift for storytelling in her blunt voice that makes this memoir such a standout. . . . Beyond everything else, this memoir impresses on readers just how easy it was to vanish in an earlier America.... How fortunate that the manuscript of Trials of the Earth didn't meet that same fate."—Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air
  • "A riveting and instructive read.... Hamilton is a natural-born storyteller.... [Her] first-person accounts are important testimonials about what used to be."—Melanie Kirkpatrick, Wall Street Journal
  • "Magnificent. Told with precision and searing honesty, Hamilton's captivating and cinematic autobiography deserves to be a classic."—Ann Weisgarber, author of The Personal History of Rachel DuPree and The Promise
  • "Wherever there is men's work, you can bet women's work is happening invisibly in the background. Trials of the Earth is a firsthand account of this backbreaking labor.... It's impossible not to root for this woman."—Amy Gentry, Chicago Tribune
  • "A reminder of how punishing the physical struggle could be, and how unspeakably lonely a woman's life was when men were clearing the land."—Rosellen Brown, New York Times Book Review
  • "This compelling, no-frills posthumous memoir...reveals the hidden nature of late 19th century American life.... Mary's unsentimental story crackles with personality, putting a face on the unsung, nameless tillers of the soil."—Publishers Weekly
  • "Draws the reader right into the hardscrabble minutiae of the daily struggle for survival on an untamed and unforgiving frontier.... Hamilton's rich personal tapestry is a testament to endurance and to the indomitable spirit of the often overlooked American pioneer woman."
    Margaret Flanagan, Booklist
  • "A unique story."
    Crystal Goldman, Library Journal
  • "Hamilton's matter-of-factness wins you over almost immediately, and unexpectedly.... Most remarkably, this book somehow enables a reader not to feel abject guilt at complaining about the temperature of their latte, but only a genuine gratefulness and admiration for those who went before."—Kim Ode, Minneapolis Star Tribune
  • "Fast-paced, inspirational and fascinating.... Mary Mann Hamilton's life was an endurance test and Trials of the Earth is her remarkable story.... Modern women will marvel at Hamilton's grueling daily schedule.... There are valuable lessons to be gleaned from Hamilton's pioneer code of conduct."—Patricia Dawn Robertson, Toronto Star
  • "Much has been written about the bold, gritty women who helped settle the American West. Much less attention has been paid to the female pioneers who muscled their way into other unsettled regions during the late 1800s. Trials of the Earth...goes far in filling that gap.... [and] underscores the huge power of unvarnished storytelling.... This is an unblinking narration of a life hard-lived by a woman who never lost her strength, humor or morality."—Sharon Peters, USA Today (3/4 stars)

On Sale
Jul 3, 2017
Page Count
336 pages
Back Bay Books

Mary Mann Hamilton

About the Author

Mary Mann Hamilton was one of the only women to write about homesteading in the Mississippi Delta. Her legacy lives on in her children and their descendants, many of whom still live in the area Hamilton writes about.

Learn more about this author