American Grit: A Woman’s Letters from the Ohio Frontier. Edited by Emily Foster. (Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky, 2002. vii, 368pp. Cloth, $45.00, ISBN: 978-0-8131-2265-6.)
In 1826, Anna Briggs Bentley, her husband Joseph, and their six children left their home in Maryland for the frontier of Columbiana County, Ohio . Anna Bentley was from a wealthy and well-connected Quaker family, her father was closely associated with President Thomas Jefferson, and when President James Madison fled Washington D.C. just ahead of the British army he took refuge with members of the Briggs family. However, with the death of Isaac Briggs, the family patriarch in 1825, the family fell upon difficult times. In the hope of making a better life for themselves and their family Anna and Joseph Bentley joined countess other pioneers in moving west, eventually settling on a farm they named Green Hill in the wilderness of Ohio . From her new home, Anna Bentley wrote long letters to her family back in Maryland. These letters detail farm life on the frontier, her struggles to raise her growing family, the generosity of her neighbors, and her desire not to be forgotten by her Maryland family.
Emily Foster’s American Grit is a collection of those letters, written from 1826 to 1858 that. Foster, a director of research and writing services specializing in public affairs communications, allows Bentley’s natural storytelling ability to shine. Continue reading