In 1916, Hallie Crawford went to teach school in Presidio, just
across the Rio Grande from Ojinaga, Mexico, which had been recently
captured by Pancho Villa. Hallie's father, considering this a
dangerous place for a young woman of nineteen to live alone, told
her he thought she was going on a wild goose chase. "Then I'll
gather my geese," she told him, with determination and
independence. These traits stayed with Hallie all her life, and
were indispensable in her role as a ranch wife. Raised as a
"proper" Southern woman, Hallie was not prepared for the
difficulties she faced when she moved to her new home, the
Stillwell Ranch, in 1918. But she quickly became an invaluable part
of the workings on the ranch. She watched and learned from her
husband, Roy Stillwell, and she adjusted to the new life-style that
she grew to love. The ranch hands, who thought she would only last
six months, came to respect her and her abilities to do as much
work as any man on the ranch. They became a family. Then Roy and
Hallie started a family of their own. Three children were a
handful, and the Stillwell family split its time between the ranch
and a home in town. On the ranch outside Marathon, near the Mexican
border, work was hard and joy came in the simple things. After
working cattle all day, relaxing under the arbor in front of the
house was a pleasure. Hallie had a favorite rock out behind the
house, and she often sat on it to watch the sun set, take a break
from her energetic youngsters, or otherwise gain some tranquility
and perspective.The ranch and its inhabitants survived two world
wars, the depression, droughts, an influenza epidemic, as well as
the everyday troubles of ranching in the Big Bend country. Hallie's
story, told in a personal and engaging way, is fascinating reading
for anyone interested in the history of pioneering ranching in
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