Researching the West that was;
writing the West that is.

To learn more about my recently
published book click here

Like the stories of the pioneers who have fascinated me since childhood, my life story has been a westward journey. I was born in Missouri, not far from where Oregon Trail pioneers began their treks. Later, my family moved to Oklahoma where I grew up and was educated. 

My first westward adventure was as a college student working one summer in Yellowstone National Park. I fell in love with Wyoming’s mountains and open spaces then. Twenty years later an opportunity to teach at Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs finally gave me my chance to live in Wyoming. In the words of John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High,” I felt I had “come home to a place I’d never been before.”Teaching writing, western literature and western American studies at Western Wyoming Community College while living in the small city of Rock Springs and later in the rural area of Eden Valley, Wyoming have all been influences on my writing.

I still see the westernlandscape, wildlife, people, and history with the same sense of wonder I felt when I was first introduced to them.  For over thirty years I lived with my husband close to the Oregon Trail in Wyoming on ground homesteaded by the first settlers in Eden Valley and in the home they built over 100 years ago. Surrounded by reminders of the Oregon Trail and memories of pioneers, by the Wind River Mountains and the high plains deserts they knew, I found my voice as a writer and my heart’s home.   

In the fall of 2012,
I exchanged rural Wyoming life for suburban Colorado life. Now my mountain views are of the front range of the Rocky Mountains rather than my beloved Wind Rivers, and my daily walks are on paved paths instead of country roads.

I believe that places choose people and that Wyoming chose me. I was fortunate that I had 30 years to get to know it well. Leaving Wyoming felt like a betrayal. But, for practical reasons, I find myself in Colorado, in the process of getting acquainted with the state and discovering its many attributes. Like the women homesteaders in my book, I find I am meeting new challenges with inner resources I didn’t know I had.

“The Lady’s Parfleche” is an artistic creation by Connie Zullo of Columbia, Missouri which was inspired by reading Staking Her Claim: Women Homesteading the West. Ms Zullo explains: “I am creating an artist-made box, using authentic artifacts as well as contrived art pieces symbolizing the women homesteaders” in Ms. Hensley’s book.  “What an inspirational and enlightening book it is! It should be a required read…for all American history classes.”  

“The Lady’s Parfleche” was part of an exhibit in Columbia, Missouri in October, 2009.