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  • Writer's pictureNotes From The Frontier

My Pioneer Mother

Updated: May 11, 2023

Happy Mother's Day to Pioneering Women--Past & Present!

Both my mother and my mother-in-law grew up on Iowa farms and attended one-room country schools. And both grew up raising all kinds of critters.

Here's my mother, Dorothy Staskal (Hufford) in Linn County, Iowa, about 1938, and my mother-in-law, Erla Enochson (Jones), (bottom right) in Johnson County, Iowa, about 1927. I loved their stories about growing up.

Erla talked about waking up winter mornings and having to crack the ice in her water pitcher on the wash basin. And my mother recounted walking cross country to her one-room school house and being chased by a mean bull. I'm so proud of both of them: strong, smart, classy, gutsy. To give you an idea of just how gutsy, I'll share one of my mother's favorite childhood stories.

When she was growing up on the farm during the Depression, there were many hobos traveling the rails and escapees from the prison in Annamosa who camped in the big woods on her dad's farm. She babysat her siblings out on the farm every Saturday night, while her parents went dancing. One night, when she was 13 years old, she was reading a book in the living room when she looked up and saw a strange man in the front window. My mother knew there was no lock on the front door. She calmly pulled a chair over to the closet, climbed up on the chair, got out her dad's rifle, loaded some cartridges, then sat back down in her rocking chair with the rifle across her lap and began reading her book. The man disappeared.

Happy Mother's Day to strong women everywhere!


"Pioneer Mothers" was originally posted May 12, 2019 on Facebook and (second post of newly launched Notes from the Frontier!) 32,732 views / 2,875 likes


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Deborah Hufford

Author, Notes from the Frontier

Deborah Hufford is an award-winning author and magazine editor with a passion for history. Her popular blog with 100,000+ readers has led to an upcoming novel! Growing up as an Iowa farmgirl, rodeo queen and voracious reader, her love of land, lore and literature fired her writing muse. With a Bachelor's in English and Master's in Journalism from the University of Iowa, she taught students of Iowa's Writer's Workshop, then at Northwestern University, Marquette and Mount Mary. Her extensive publishing career began at Better Homes & Gardens, includes credits in New York Times Magazine, New York Times, Connoisseur, many other titles, and serving as publisher of The Writer's Handbook


Deeply devoted to social justice, especially for veterans, women, and Native Americans, she has served on boards and donated her fundraising skills to Chief Joseph Foundation, Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW), Homeless Veterans Initiative, Humane Society, and other nonprofits.  


Deborah's soon-to-be released historical novel, BLOOD TO RUBIES weaves indigenous and pioneer history, strong women and clashing worlds into a sweeping saga praised by NYT bestselling authors as "crushing," "rhapsodic," "gritty," and "sensuous." Purchase BLOOD TO RUBIES online beginning June 9. Connect with Deborah on, Facebook, and Instagram.

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