Wednesday, May 16, 2018


For this post I thought it might be fun to 'interview' Helen Hunt Jackson using her own words. Helen was born in 1830 and died in 1885. She began writing in earnest around 1865. Enjoy the interview. 

You traveled a great deal, as we know. What were your observations on your trips west?

Prairie, unfenced, undivided, unmeasured, unmarked, save by the different tints of different growths of grass or grain; great droves of cattle grazing here and there; acres of willow saplings, pale yellowish green; and solitary trees, which look like hermits in a wilderness. These, and now and then a shapeless village, which looks even lonelier than the empty loneliness by which it is surrounded, - these are all for hours and hours. We think, “now we are getting out into the great spaces.” “This is what the word ‘West’ has sounded like.”

You talk about the places you have traveled, the beauty and grandeur, but lower elevations seem special to you also. Why is that?

I think that true delight, true realization, of the gracious, tender, unutterable beauty of the earth and all created things are to be found in outlooks from lower points—vistas which shut more than they show, sweet and unexpected revealings in level places and valley, secrets of near woods, and glories of every-day paths.

You are quoted as saying there are nine places of worship in Colorado Springs. What are they?

There are nine “places of divine worship” in Colorado Springs, -- the Presbyterian, the Cumberland Presbyterian, the Methodist, the South Methodist, the Episcopal, the Congregationalist, the Baptist, the Unitarian, and Cheyenne Canyon.

Do you enjoy winters?

... winter..... memory and fancy will have their way; and, as we sit cowering over fires, and the snow piles up outside our window sills, we shall gaze dreamily into the glowing coals, and, living the summer over again, shall recall it in a minuteness of joy, for summer days were too short and summer light too strong. Then, when joy becomes reverie, and reverie takes shape, a truer record can be written....
Now, if you don’t mind, I would like to spend some time with questions about your work for the Indians in the late 1870's and early 1880's.

First, in your article 'Oldest House' you mention the fate of the people who lived in the area prior to the Spanish residence in Santa Fe.

When Coronado explored Mexico in 1540, he found many Indian pueblos on the Rio Grande River, and speaks of several which must have been near the present location of Santa Fe. The one which it is generally supposed was on its precise site at the time stretched along its river-banks for six miles. Colorado reported that he found here a beautiful and fertile valley, under high cultivation by the Indians. It is hard to realize...that a race which, over three hundred years ago, had reached comfort and success in agriculture and pastoral occupations, should be today an abject, supine, wretched a melancholy comment on the injustices they have received.

Those are pretty harsh words. It is obvious you have strong feelings about the issue.

The book, Century of Dishonor, as its title indicates, a sketch of the United States Government's dealings with some of the..tribes.

Right sentiment and purpose in a senator..representative here and there, are little more than straws which make momentary eddies, but do not obstruct the tide.

a..states representative argued in Congress that is is very hard if the government will not for..advantage, break a few treaties when it has broken so many for the advantage of other states....what a logic of infamy...because we have had one century of dishonor, must we have two?

What, if anything, do you think can be done?

The only thing that can stay this is a mighty outspoken sentiment and purpose of the great body of the people. ...for the American people, as a people, are not at heart unjust. If there be one thing which they believe in more than any other, is fair play. As soon as they understand....they will rise up and demand it...

Thank you Mrs. Jackson, for taking the time to share some of your thoughts and words with us.

I hope you enjoyed a bit of insight into this interesting, complex and fearless woman. Helen seemed to have no problem with stating her opinion, regardless of what others may have thought. She was a woman to be remembered.

(The 'interview' were from the writings of Mrs. Helen Jackson, also known as HH. The use of the name Helen Hunt Jackson was used primarily after her death in 1885.)

Helen’s words about the West help to influence why own writings. Both my haiku, novellas and the two novels "Chasing A Chance" and "Josie's Dream" came to fruition by her influence and determination to write and tell the story.
Enjoy this excerpt from “Chasing A Chance” and you may see Helen’s influence:

The closer Edwin came to his destination, the more nervous he felt. What if Mary weren't there,
or worse something had happened her? She hadn't deserved the hand that life dealt her. Edwin
felt guilty, for not being there to help her through. He cut his thoughts short. He'd enough of 
self-pity. He was doing what he could now, whatever that might be. But, what if she didn't want
help? The thoughts and questions fought each other as Edwin moved closer to his destiny.

           The two traveled in silence, each deep in their own thoughts about what was to come. The miles\
drifted by, heat waves rolling off the ground as they slowly made their way through the high
plains east of the mountains, barely visible off in the distance to the west.

           Taylor watched Edwin. He was wondering what it was that was pushing the man toward trouble 
instead of away.

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Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Member of National League of American Pen Women,
Women Writing the West,
Pikes Peak Posse of the Westerners

Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here
Photo and Poem: Click Here
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here


  1. A wonderful selection of quotes/passages. thanks so much for sharing these.

    1. You are welcome, Andrea. I love Helen and her work. I try to share it whenever I can. Doris

  2. What a glimpse into the past. Writings such as these are so important, in so many ways. Thanks for sharing, Doris. :-)

  3. You are welcome Kristy. As I've said before, I am passionate about Helen and her work, even though it was written in the 1800s. Doris