Susan Clardy discovered her great grandfather’s carefully preserved letters and diaries in a trunk in her parents’ attic. Frank Hammon was an ordinary, hard-working man who got caught up in the boom, bust and chronic violence of his era and left a record of these hectic days.
The accounts are quite bland, but there is much sadness and history underlying the words. Hammon lost his beloved wife Daisy to childbed fever. He had to let his children be raised in faraway Illinois. Eventually, Hammon even became embroiled in the gory Pleasant Valley War between cattlemen and sheepherders. Clardy begins each chapter with an evocative comment on her own experience tracking down Frank’s history. It is a gracious, literary touch. —Cynthia Green