A Hard Won Life: A Boy on his own on the Montana Frontier
by H. Norman Hyatt
570 pages, 11 b/w photos, appendix
Based on the hand-written memoir of Fred Van Blaricom, this true story recounts a life of hardship and hope in the Montana Territory during the late 1800s. Told in Fred’s affable voice and rich with historical detail, A Hard Won Life is a coming-of-age story packed with adventures and grounded in the remarkable lives of the earliest homesteaders—men and women—of the Lower Yellowstone. Meet young Teddy Roosevelt, famed buffalo hunter Vic Smith, saloon owners, devious outlaws, and persistent sheriffs. Working as a cowboy, young Freddie broke horses, helped catch a horsethief, survived the cattle-killing winter of 1886, and at age ten rode alone 100 miles to work a season on a ranch in the Dakota Territories. Fred’s was a life of struggle against many obstacles, but he overcame them or abided them with no complaint. As he himself put it: “The hero was throwed, but the horse was tamed.” Meticulously researched and superbly written, A Hard Won Life is a tale of bravery, determination, and one boy’s embodiment of the spirit of Montana.