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My name is Clifford T. Ammons; I am the nephew of Edith Eudora Ammons Kohl, author of several historic books including “Land of the Burnt Thigh,” “The Sodbreakers,” “Woman of the Cavalcade” “Denver’s Historic Mansions,” “Denver’s First Christmas,” and “A Christmas on the Frontier.”

Her first book, “Land of the Burnt Thigh,” was originally published by the Funk and Wagnalls Company in 1938.

Prior to her death in 1959, Edith was writing the sequel and was under contract with a MGM producer for the movie rights to “Land of the Burnt Thigh” and a second book entitled, “The Sodbreakers.” No one in my family knew about the other two books, “The Sodbreakers,” and “Woman of the Cavalcade.” No movie was ever made.

At the time of her passing, I inherited an old, stinky, ratty-looking suitcase. That suitcase has been in my possession since 1959 and I opened it a couple of times to look at old pictures, some of Edith’s poetry, newspaper stories that she had written for The Denver Post, and letters from former U.S. senators and state governors.

My thoughts were, “This old suitcase is taking up space. I’ll get rid of it. But wait a minute! What’s in this old accordion folder?”

To my surprise and delight, I came upon her original typewritten manuscript of “Land of the Burnt Thigh” in addition to two other unknown typewritten manuscripts by Edith that had never been published. Treasures uncovered!

The titles of Edith’s two new books are: “The Sodbreakers,” and, “Woman of the Cavalcade.” “The Sodbreakers” depicts Edith’s life settling new ground near Lusk and Van Tassell, Wyoming. “Woman of the Cavalcade” takes her into the Judith Basin of Montana to start her fourth newspaper and to fight the big grain trusts which were robbing the farmers and forcing them into poverty by cheating them out of any profits on their first crops of grain.

She heroically fought for the farmers with the help of several U.S. senators and became involved with an organization called The National Farmers Union instead of the Farm Bureau.

Edith’s books are unique, first-hand, historic documents that take readers back in time with her to hear and see what she personally experienced … the exciting, difficult challenges she and other heroic men and women encountered in settling America’s West.

My Special Memories of “Aunt Edie”

As a young child of five and six years of age, I would accompany my father on his business trips to Denver and stay several days with Aunt Edie – as we affectionately called her – in her one room apartment in an old Victorian home close to downtown Denver.

One time when she was making pancakes for supper, Aunt Edie told me the pancakes were ready to flip when I could count seven bubbles popping up on the surface of the pancake. Several decades later, I still count seven bubbles every time I make pancakes. After we ate, I helped her with the dishes; I got to dry them. When we were finished, Aunt Edie took me – and a dish I dried – to three other ladies on her floor just to show them what a good job I had done. I felt like a celebrity!

At bedtime, Aunt Edie told me stories of children she knew on the homestead of South Dakota. The only name I remember now is Heine Christopherson. He was a little boy who always seemed to be in some kind of mischief. She would also tell me all about the Indians she knew, her horse Dakota, and a cowboy by the name of “Lone Star Len.”

Aunt Edie was an expert typist, extremely fast, even though she only used two fingers. She could definitely beat up a typewriter!

I also remember Thanksgiving dinner at my sister Ida’s home in 1957. Don, my brother-in-law, picked Aunt Edie up at her apartment in his “California Roadster,” as Aunt Edie called it; it was a 1957 Plymouth convertible.

Just as dinner was about to be served, Aunt Edie said, “I’m expecting a call from the governor; I gave him this number.”

It was only a few minutes later when the phone rang.

Don answered, then said, “It’s for you Edie … it’s the governor!”

I will never forget what she said to Governor Steve McNichols.

Aunt Edie said, “The Evanses are not giving YOU their mansion! They are giving it to the State of Colorado, and you DAMN WELL WILL accept it, whether you want to live in it or not!”

And she hung up the phone!

The “Evans Mansion” is now the Governor’s Mansion of Colorado. Aunt Edie was definitely not afraid to speak her mind.

Toward the end of Aunt Edie’s third book, “Woman of the Cavalcade,” she meets a man who becomes the love of her life, and her husband … Aaron Wesley Kohl. Unfortunately, I know very little about their life together, but I do know that they had a child who died at birth in April 1921, and Aaron died in April 1928.

Several years before her death, Aunt Edie gave me Aaron’s professional drafting equipment and I became a draftsman after high school and worked with architects and engineers for more than twenty years. I am over seventy years old now and still use those tools today designing my dream home.

My grandparents, my father, and uncle are a big part of “The Sodbreakers” and “Woman of the Cavalcade” stories. I never knew anything about this part of my family history until I found these manuscripts. My dad joined the army as soon as our country entered World War I, and my uncle, Thomas, joined a short time later as soon as he became of age. Thank God they both returned home safely after the war was over.

I feel so blessed to have discovered these truly historic books that lay unopened for well over half a century. The original stories contained within provide personal insight into the remarkable, amazing story of how the West was settled by people like my Aunt Edie and other family members. That is why I chose to publish all three of her books together for the very first time ever with all of Aunt Edie’s final changes and revisions exactly as she wrote them.

Each of my Aunt Edie’s three books were written precisely in the order she experienced those utterly difficult, remarkable times, “Land of the Burnt Thigh,” followed by “The Sodbreakers,” and then, “Woman of the Cavalcade.”

Feel free to email us with any questions.

I hope you enjoy reading my Aunt Edie’s three historic books that are published by PBJ Publishing in New York as thoroughly as I did.