The Personal History of Rachel DuPree

by Ann Weisgarber

Think you know about strong women? Read this and think again. Life in the Dakota Badlands early in the 20th century must have been so hard. I didn’t know whether to cry or cheer for Rachel DuPree.


'At ease,' he said to Mary now, their hands still gripping the well handle. The rope was played out; Liz was at the bottom. Mary let go of the handle and shook out her hands and shoulders. She ran her palms down the sides of her skirt. She was almost 13 and tall for her age. She took after Isaac that way, but like me, she was dark. When Isaac had told her that he couldn't turn the handle without her, her back straightened and her chin went high. Isaac could do that to a person. He could give a person the worst chore and make that person feel honored to be chosen. I’ve had fourteen years to try to understand this about Isaac, about how he made this happen. This was what I'd come up with. It was because his eyes admired you for bearing up, and when he looked at you that way, there was nothing finer. And there was this too about Isaac. He didn’t shy away from any chore. He knew what had to be done, and he did it.


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