In the middle of the Great Depression, Montana native Julia Bennett arrived in New York City with no money and an audacious business plan: to identify and visit easterners who could afford to spend their summers at her brand new dude ranch near Ennis, Montana. Julia, a big-game hunter whom friends described as “a clever shot with both rifle and shotgun,” flouted gender conventions to build guest ranches in Montana and Arizona that attracted world-renowned entertainers and artists.
Bennett’s entrepreneurship, however, was not a new family development. During the Civil War, her widowed grandmother and her seven-year-old daughter—Bennett’s mother—set out from Missouri on a ten-month journey with little more than a yoke of oxen, a covered wagon, and the clothes on their backs. They faced countless heartbreaks and obstacles as they struggled to build a new life in the Montana Territory.
Burning the Breeze is the story of three generations of women and their intrepid efforts to succeed in the American West. Excerpts from diaries, letters, and scrapbooks, along with rare family photos, help bring their vibrant personalities to life.
About the Author
Lisa Hendrickson is the owner of Lisa Hendrickson Communications and a former corporate and nonprofit public relations director. She has written or edited five books, including Indiana at 200: A Celebration of the Hoosier State and Kiritsis and Me: Enduring 63 Hours at Gunpoint.
"Women's history buffs will find plenty of drama and adventure in this thoroughly researched account of how one family's 'spirit of resilience' helped form the character of the American West."—Publishers Weekly
“[A] remarkable blend of history and biography. There’s a Ken Burns or Willa Cather–like feel of both intimacy and sweep to the storytelling, and a touch of the heroic. When I finished reading, I felt not only as though I knew these women (and was inspired by them) but that I had a deeper understanding of American history.”—Susan Neville, author of Fabrication: Essays on Making Things
“Only enormously gifted women could have won the contest between financial disaster and hard-earned success. This book is a wonderful read. You won’t be saddle sore, but you will be thrilled by the ride.”—Pierce C. Mullen, professor emeritus of history at Montana State University
“Julia Bennett sure did ‘burn the breeze’ as she rode at full speed though a long life. . . . [Hendrickson] vividly portrays the ups and downs of a remarkable woman, sprinkled with a dash of scandal.”—James H. Madison, professor emeritus of history at Indiana University
“Hendrickson meticulously fleshes out the larger-than-life Bennett, a woman who overcomes financial woes to set up and operate early dude ranches, catering to elite and monied early twentieth-century blue-blood Americans seeking diversion and adventure in the West.”—Betsy Gaines Quammen, author of American Zion: Cliven Bundy, God, and Public Lands in the West