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How the West Captured Her Heart

I’m thrilled to introduce to you this month’s Inspirational Western Woman. She’s my friend and 2024 Women Writing the West President. She’s one of the sweetest, caring, kindest gals you’ll ever meet and talented as a singer and musician too.

Let’s meet Gayle Gresham!

DillEsch Photography and Creations

The West has captivated me since I was a child.

My dad played trombone in the Air Force band and was stationed at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs when I was one year old.

Every couple of years my parents moved farther out of town until they lived twenty miles north of the Springs on a fifteen-acre farm in the ranching community of Cherry Valley. I attended a two-room elementary school.

My folks bought a small flock of sheep and raised lambs that I showed in 4-H.

I remember riding my bike in the ruts of the trail on our land and dreaming I was going West with a wagon train like my great-great-grandparents did when they were Colorado pioneers in 1861.

I married John Gresham 38 years ago.

Over the years we have been involved with his family’s farm in Elbert, Colorado while he worked as a rural electric lineman. We bought a tractor and leased a field to raise wheat for a couple of years.

John and I also have a small Red Angus cow-calf operation.

I have routinely done things I never dreamed of doing—plowing fields, raking hay, and driving cattle by horse and 4-wheeler.

I fed cattle off a truck one winter with my dog, Brody, who held the cattle away from the truck until I was done throwing the hay off.

My favorite thing about farming and ranching is the legacy John’s family has in Elbert County.

Both of our children and their families run a few cows with ours in the summertime. When our young grandchildren help with branding and working calves, I am reminded they are the seventh generation carrying on a family tradition.

And their 92-year-old great-grandfather still takes part in the cattle drives in his John Deere Gator!

Research, writing, and history are three loves I’ve had since high school.

I wrote a paper for my Colorado history class about my great-great-uncle who went to prison for stealing cattle in 1883.

His partner was hanged by vigilantes.

In 2006, I joined Women Writing the West when I started writing a book about the cattle rustlers. With the influence of Women Writing the West, I noticed the story of the widow of the hanged cattle rustler was quite remarkable and she became the protagonist in the book.

The book has changed from nonfiction to historical fiction and I am hoping to write “the end” before 2026.

I also write articles for Colorado Country Life, a Rural Electric Association magazine, and enjoy interviewing interesting people and writing their stories.

I have interviewed people who owned celebrity oxen, the man who developed Pueblo Chile, and last year I wrote an article about two young women who have a mural business with a dream to paint murals in the small towns of the Colorado plains.

The West encompasses such a large space and I am blessed to live a little piece of it through farming and ranching with family in Colorado and through sharing the stories of both historical and present-day people.   

About Gayle

DillEsch Photography and Creations

Gayle Gresham is the 2022-2023 President-Elect of Women Writing the West and a 2020 DOWNING Journalism Award finalist. She resides with her husband, John, in Elbert, Colorado.

Blog: http://ColoradoReflections.blogspot.com

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/GayleGreshamsColoradoReflections

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  1. Karen (K.S.) Jones says:

    Terrific post! I love the fact that Gayle Gresham grew up naturally loving the history of the land, people, and her own family. Strong roots make great people. Thinking about her childhood of riding her bike in the ruts of an 1800s wagon is just wonderful. I hope you’ll do another feature when she finishes her book about the widow of a cattle rustler. I’m looking forward to reading it.

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Great idea, Karen! Yes, I’ll have to scedule her again when the book comes out. It’s going to be fabulous!

    2. Gayle Gresham says:

      Hi Karen! I am so thankful for my childhood and for my parents who love history and passed it on to me. I’d love to be back on Carmen’s blog when the book is written!

  2. diana bobbitt says:

    Connections are always surprising to me. Gayle Gresham’s father is quite a remarkable person also. He captures scenes from his house and surrounding land of animal life, plant life, bug life, and bud life; anything that moves may show up in his posts, but especially the night sky.
    So the love of outdoors was passed on from father to daughter, and interesting things are shared with those of us who are on the receiving end of their talents.
    I am waiting for the book to be published and in my hands! Thank you for introducing Gayle to me.

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Diane, you’re welcome! Thanks for supporting Gayle. She’s remarkable!

    2. Gayle Gresham says:

      Diana, I agree with you that my Dad is quite remarkable! I am blessed to have a little of his photographic eye and enjoy photography, too. Thank you for your interest in the book!

  3. Great blog about a fascinating lady who’s sure to keep the flame lit—for future Gresham farmers and ranchers along with WWW writers of the women’s west.

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Betsy, I completely agree!

    2. Gayle Gresham says:

      Thank you, Betsy!

  4. Great interview and story! I’ve known you for a long time and have missed seeing you the past few years. I’m looking forward to you writing “The End” on your story as well. It should be a good one!

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Thanks for supporting Gayle with your kindness, Heidi!

    2. Gayle Gresham says:

      Thank you, Heidi! Hope to see you again soon!