Arts and Entertainment

Telling the stories of ‘Women to Reckon With’

Fifth-generation Olympic Peninsula residents compile stories of the area’s first women settlers.

The title of the book aside, Olympic Peninsula authors Gary Peterson and Glynda Schaad are well acquainted with women to reckon with.

For the production of their first book “High Divide,” the brother and sister moved in with their page designer in a cabin along the Hoh River in the Olympic wilderness, working into the early morning hours on a computer that kept overheating.

It was the perfect setting for the story they were telling.

The story was that of Gary and Glynda’s grandmother Minnie Peterson — a name well-known throughout the Hoh Forest. She was a mountain guide and packer who traversed the back country with her horses well into her 60s. When friends and family told her that she should pack it up and retire, “not only did she not retire, but she moved from her house in Forks up to the Hoh River in a cabin with no electricity and no running water,” Schaad said.

On top of all that, she continued to pack into her 80s, Schaad said, adding that she was lucky enough to have gone along on her grandmother’s final excursion — which in turn inspired the book “High Divide.”

Now Peterson and Schaad have come out with a new book, a collection of stories about 12 other rugged women from the Northwest woods. It’s called “Women to Reckon With: Untamed Women of the Olympic Wilderness.” It’s an illustrated collection of historical accounts about the adventurous, bold, brazen, defiant and audacious women who settled the Olympic Peninsula in the 19th century.

The book’s subjects run the gamut from the first white woman in Washington — a Russian ship captain’s wife who was taken by the Natives as a slave in the early 1800s after their boat ran aground — to the first Washington woman who ran for the United States House of Representatives — “Thoroughly Modern” Minerva Troy.

Schaad and Peterson will be coming to Kitsap to give presentations on these women to reckon with Sept. 26 at Barnes and Noble in Silverdale and Sept. 27 at the Dauntless in Port Gamble.

“Fact really is stranger than fiction,” said Schaad, an adjunct professor of English at Peninsula College.

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