She had moved to the rural West in late March 1909 to remedy her own despair. Uneducated, orphaned early in life, and a single mother, Stewart had supported herself and her daughter Jerrine in Denver working as a furnace tender, housekeeper, and laundress. But the work did not satisfy and did nothing to improve her lot. By the time she was in her mid-thirties, she felt a baffling combination of captivity and homelessness. Homesteading in Wyoming offered her the alternative of a home of her own, adequate food, and as she said, the “blue veil of distance.” To that end, she hired herself out to housekeep for Clyde Stewart, a Scottish widower who owned a ranch near Burnt Fork, Wyoming.