The Bonnet Book: Diary of an Orphan Train Hatmaker



Sent away on an orphan train at fourteen, smart and lovely Blanche Spencer lands in St. Louis, Missouri as a nursemaid, wearing rags and sleeping in a pantry. To rise above her servitude, she begins a self-education program. A trade booth at the 1904 World's Fair and a Cobden, Illinois apprenticeship launch her into a hat-making career, which she documents in a tiny diary, The Bonnet Book.

An early example of self-determination and girl power, Blanche-now Bonnie-travels alone to the Wild West, where she's presented with the chance of a lifetime and the possibility of love-both rife with challenges that test her drive, purpose in life, and sense of self.

The Bonnet Book diary and other historical items in the novel are real-life touchstones in this gripping, inspiring story based on the life of the author's grandmother.

Product Details

Publish Date
September 01, 2020
5.24 X 7.99 X 0.82 inches | 0.92 pounds

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About the Author

Nancy Menees Hardesty was born in Jacksonville, Illinois and spent her childhood in St. Louis, Missouri. She moved to San Francisco, California in 1969 and practiced landscape architecture for twenty-three years. Nancy lives with her husband and remains close with her son and two foster sons. Nancy spent six years researching and writing The Bonnet Book. She had various family journals and artifacts and the extensive help of her mother, Mary Kay Menees, who was the daughter-in-law of Bonnie Spencer. The tiny Bonnet Book of hat sketches and the wooden hat-supply trunk are still in the author's possession.