Skip to main content
View Sidebar
Click on any book icon to see Table of Contents and/or to purchase a copy.
Eulalia (Sister) Bourne: Rancher Schoolteacher

Eulalia (Sister) Bourne: Rancher Schoolteacher

January 31, 2021

Dear WinkWorld Readers,

As many of you know, I have long been a fan of Eulalia Bourne, a.k.a., Sister, since I bumped into her work at The Singing Winds bookstore in the late 70s while living on the Cascabel Ranch and teaching in Benson, AZ.  I could not read her three books fast enough to please me.  And, I loved hearing the stories of her decades of teaching at tiny little schools on the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona. The purpose of this WinkWorld is to create an overview of who Sister was, and her impact today on a little two-room school on the prairies of South Dakota.

My beloved copies of three of Sister’s books.  Just the titles of the books tell us a lot about Sister Bourne.

Nine Months is a Year, Ranch Schoolteacher, and Woman in Levis

Several decades later I shared my treasured Sister books with Missy Urbaniak, the teacher of a  two-room school on the prairies of South Dakota. Missy was as captivated by the woman, as I had been earlier.

Missy fell in love with Sister also, and thus began a special bond between Missy and the students of Atall School and myself.

Read the following (click here) for a historical peak into Sister’s life, The University of Arizona library and local museum maintain and preserve all of Sister’s papers.  Many may believe that the tiny little one and two-room school is a thing of the past–not true.  Atall and others are as dynamic and central to the isolated ranching communities today on the prairies, as Sister’s were in the early to mid twentieth century in AZ.  Through the last half dozen years Missy and I  have attempted to save this history and to share it with others.

Below I am posting as few of the photos of the kids through the years.  In the first photo one of the students is now a sophomore at the state university; and four others are in the local (50 miles away) high school.

The photo above shows the students after I donated a few of my books to their school library. The following three photos were all taken during different years.
(Click on a photo to see a larger view.)

Little Cowpuncher was the name of the students newsletters, which Sister’s students often produced on old mimeograph machine.  When Missy and the Atall students learned of this, they, too, wanted to write and publish their own newsletter, which they named, Prairie School Post (PSP).

More about these student newsletters from Sister’s students and also from Missy’s students is available at the end of this paragraph. Many miles stretch from AZ to SD, but these students are the bridge which joins the desert and the prairies. Click here.

You have probably guessed that we are working on a book, and we have our work cut out for us.

In the space below, I am posting multiple other (wink)links which I have posted on this topic.  At times, my blog posts serve primarily as a digital library for me, and I think this is one of those times–just trying to get everything in one place.
This post has some photos of the kids at Atall school with me reading to them.
More Atall kids and photos here.


  • Chris Roe

    Always ready to hear your stories Joan! XoX

  • The building that housed the Baboquivari School at Pozo Nuevo is now on the Buenos Aires Nat’l Wildlife Refuge. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has abandoned the building and it is falling apart. I photographed it on March 18, 2021 and am putting together a photo essay about the place for a book review of “nine months is a year”. As of now, I am halfway into this book and am going to be sorry when I reach the end. Fun reading! If you want to see the photos, please let me know how I can deliver them to you.

    • Joan Wink

      Thank you so, so much for reaching out! If you follow my writing, you know that I fell in love with her books, the minute I read them. At that time, we were living on a ranch near Cascabel, AZ, and I was teaching in Benson, so her world was so familiar. Have you follow those newsletters, which her students created? I live on a ranch in South Dakota now, and we have 4 tiny little one-room schools in huge school district. The students in one of those schools are doing newsletter based on Sister Bourne’s work? Please just go to my main webpage and click on Contact Joan. Or, Thanks for all you are doing.

Leave a reply