LOUISVILLE – Farmers are the backbone of our nation. Women farmers are not only unrecognized, but virtually unknown, for their contribution to rural communities and local culture.
Kentucky author and Calloway County native, Bobbie Smith Bryant recently published her fourth book, “A Beautiful Star: The Life of Lois Etoile Brewer.” In this, her first biography, Bryant captures the simplicity of farm life from the turn of the century into the industrial age and beyond. The social and cultural elements of the family farm are firmly embedded in Kentucky’s heritage, and Bryant once again weaves ordinary daily farm life into the story.
While there are books about notable Kentucky women, very little has been published to feature rural women from Kentucky’s farmlands.
Bryant’s work is told through the life of one woman and her family in rural western Kentucky. It shines a light on the traditions and culture which develop around them as they go about living. The story follows Lois (Bryant’s great-grandmother), and her siblings, Talmadge and Bruce Robinson, on their parents’ small farm. The children attend school and the family works. They attend church and enjoy the social elements of their tight-knit community. Once married, Lois teaches her children her ways, sharing her love of the land through raising chickens and growing a garden while helping her husband, Sam, in the tobacco patch and row crops on the farm. Life for Lois is one of simplicity and strength, faith and struggle, grace and hard work.
For the past several years, Bryant has worked with her 10-generation farm family to draw attention to the rural traditions and culture that are fading away from Kentucky’s rural landscapes. She helped develop and produce a 2013 KET documentary about dark-fired tobacco farming in western Kentucky. In 2015, that project led to a full-color coffee-table book of the same title, “Farming in the Black Patch.” Each of these works were awarded the Kentucky Historical Society’s Kentucky History Award.