Recommended Reads: ‘The Kemptons’ — a fascinating story about a real Montana ranch family

The Kemptons: Adventures of a Montana Ranch Family 1880 – 1964, by Trudy Kempton Dana

Author Trudy Kempton Dana will be signing books on Saturday May 11 from 11 a.m. to noon at the Edmonds Bookshop, so be sure to mosey on over to meet her and to hear more old western stories about The Kemptons. 

Delight in this memoir that is a storytelling of an intriguing period of history, and these stories are told as if by the different people themselves. The author brings the characters truly to life as they also share tales about each other. Pull up a chair and enjoy the exploits of The Kemptons and their friends in making Montana history, touching on slices of national historic events, and even adventuring in foreign lands.

What a treasure of information discovered in this collection of stories that are fascinating for readers young and old. The author really brings the people who made our history — their feelings, their everyday challenges and their dreams so real and relatable. This is a family with roots in immigration as well as in a Native American tribe. There are fun stories about settling the small town West, exciting Wild West show tours episodes, and anecdotes of the daily running of the Kempton Ranch and Hotel.

Along with the interesting glimpses into the family members’ lives, their friends in the towns and who work with them on the ranch and at the hotel are also compelling characters, who were real people. The Florida Cowboy and his horse Miami have such a fun and touching story recounted over a truly memorable Christmas Eve gift. President Theodore Roosevelt even has a direct connection with The Kemptons that adds to the humor that laces the tough lives memorialized here. At the end of each chapter, the author adds a note about the story told by the character, adding additional context that ties up any questions so effectively.

This memoir is generously endowed with historic photos of the people, memorabilia and places recounted. How fortunate to have such clear pictures to enhance the storytelling.

Author Trudy Kempton Dana grew up hearing stories of her father’s life on this incredible Montana cattle ranch. These stories captured her imagination and she’s combined that legacy with some historic research to bring to life a time that embraces humor, hard work, dreams, family and community. “Although the original ranch house, no longer occupied, has fallen into disrepair, you can still see the grandeur of the large, welcoming living room and dining areas,” she wrote. “Only the memories, the ghosts of the Kempton family, remain. . . . the Kemptons loved the land and it gave them life.” Fortunately we also have the tales of The Kemptons as well in this memorable book of biographical stories.

The author’s father, Jerry Kempton, was once told by his father, “We can’t live in the past. We have to make the present something we can be proud of and plan for the future.”

Although with this book, the past is a great place to visit.

— By Wendy Kendall

Wendy Kendall is a writer, project manager, wedding officiant and volunteer at the Edmonds Library.

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