About the Exhibition

Sara M. Gregg

The author would like to acknowledge the support of Montana historians in helping to shape this story, especially Mary Helland, who provided both shelter and inspiration during the early days of this research.  Mary’s boundless energy and passion for both place and history is a gift to northeastern Montana and to the Valley County Pioneer Museum, and I am grateful for that institution and its bountiful resources and generosity. The Montana Historical Society provided a first glimpse into the story of Lily’s claim, and its stewardship of the robust records of homesteading is a credit to the state. The author would also like to thank Don and Sheila Nelson for their willingness to accommodate a writer with no clear connection to their ranch, and Don, especially, for his tour of the property and the guidance he offered on the Nelson and Stensland families in Montana.

The Fellows of the Rachel Carson Center (RCC) provided an invaluable Work-in-Progress session dedicated to a chapter on Lily’s life in July 2017, and I am grateful to David Biggs, Cameron Blevins, Jenny Carlson, Simone Müller, Byron Santangelo, and Jim and Alison Webb for their engagement with this research during that session. More broadly, the support of the RCC was instrumental in permitting me to carve out the space to craft the larger book project, and I am indebted to Arielle Helmich, Annka Liepold, Christof Mauch, and Donald Worster for having helped in various ways to facilitate that fellowship. Finally, Jonatan Palmblad was an extremely patient editor, and I was lucky to have the opportunity to work with him both during my residency in Munich and over the years that followed.

About the Author

Sara M. Gregg (PhD, Columbia University) is an associate professor of history and environmental studies at the University of Kansas. Her current project, Little Piece of Earth: The Hidden History of the Homestead Era, examines the process of state formation from Native dispossession through the several US Homestead Acts using historical GIS and grassland microhistories of the homestead booms in Kansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, and Montana. She is the author of Managing the Mountains:  Land Use Planning, the New Deal, and the Creation of a Federal Landscape in Appalachia (Yale, 2010) and co-editor of the anthology American Georgics: Writings on Farming, Culture, and the Land (Yale 2011).