The Rankins of Montana: Risk Takers, History Makers, American Dreamers
Katherine H. Adams
This is the story of the Rankins, a family that embodied the risk and ambition that transformed America. John Rankin arrived in the West chasing the adventure of gold mining but soon turned to ranching and building in the new town of Missoula. There he met Olive Pickering, who had left New Hampshire in 1878 to become a teacher and seek a husband on the American frontier.
John and Olive’s children continued to demonstrate their parent’s ambition and nerve. Their son became one of the biggest landowners in the country, one of the first personal injury lawyers, and a crusader against railroads and mining. Jeannette became the first woman in a national legislature, voted against two world wars and led marches protesting the Vietnam War. As a dean, Harriet helped develop the modern co-educational university. Edna traveled the world advocating for birth control. The Rankins faced both national adulation and condemnation for the choices they made. Their family story concerns independence and education, activism, the boundaries created by gender, religious choices, and the changing meaning of the West.