Doris Shannon Garst - Wyoming Writer

With the dreary weather and snow in the forecast, I spent the morning looking through a few old Wyoming reference books. It’s always fun to see how the stories of Wyoming change from one generation to another. Some accounts from the past become more important and others less so.

 I spent an hour or more paging through, and reading parts that struck me, a Wyoming History book that I believe was used for eight grade classes. I base this assumption on the fact that there is a name written in pencil on the first page followed by, 8 grade, and 1948-46. (In my years of teaching I numbered books by year, and then numbered them consecutively, so this made sense to me – Purchased in 1948, book number 46)

The Book, The Story of Wyoming And Its Constitution and Government, was written by Doris Shannon Garst was published in 1938, and printed by the Douglas Enterprise. It is a slim volume of 179 pages and is somewhat unusual in size, especially for a textbook, at 5 X 7.
Doris Shannon Garst
According to Garst’s, Wyoming Authors Wiki page, she was a teacher and principal but became a full-time writer after publishing her Wyoming History book. The Wiki site relates that she was told she would not be taken seriously because no one would read a western book by a woman. The settled by dropping the Doris and publishing the original as by, Shannon Garst. My copy, probably new, when numbered in 1948, does have her name as Doris Shannon Garst.

I think the writing and storytelling in this one holds up pretty well for being 78 years old. The beginning of each chapter is a bit more folksy and personal than I see in today’s texts, but I liked it. Here is an example, one I think students today would enjoy reading.
In fact, the mountain men got so that they weren’t at all particular about what they ate. Joe Meek, one of the famous trappers says: “I have held my hand in an ant hill until they were covered with the ants then greedily licked them off. I have taken the sole off my moccasins, crisped them in the fire and eaten them . . . the black crickets which are found in the country were considered game. We use to take a kettle of hot water, catch the crickets and throw them in, and when they stopped kicking, eat them.”

Ms. Garst, who spent the rest of her live in Douglas, went on to write many more books after her successful Wyoming Text Book. Amazon lists over 90 titles, some with co-authors and many are still available from used book stores. 

I found Doris Shannon Garst,  to be such an interesting person one that I plan to write another in another post –Coming soon!
Winter - A Great time to sit back in my recliner and read

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