A Black Woman’s West: The Life of Rose B. Gordon

by Michael K. Johnson

Born in the Barker mining district of central Montana Territory, Rose Beatrice Gordon (1883–1968) was the daughter of an African American chef and an emancipated slave who migrated to the West in the early 1880s. This book tells the story of the Gordon family—John, Anna, Robert, Rose, John Francis Jr., George, and Taylor—and pays tribute to Rose, who lived most of her life in White Sulphur Springs. In her youth, Rose excelled academically and distinguished herself as a musical performer. As an adult, she established her economic independence as a restaurant owner, massage therapist, and caregiver. She made a place for herself in the public sphere through letters to the editor and eventually through a regular newspaper column for the Meagher County News—a remarkable undertaking at a time when Black women in America were largely denied a public voice. As a Black woman in the West, Gordon led a life that was both ordinary in its day-to-day struggles and extraordinary in its sum.

Paperback: 342 pages