Katherine Carter Swanson

I suppose the time has come to write a bit about my oldest sister, Katherine. It took me awhile because really! I never knew that much about her. Why? Because I only just met her for the first time in October of 1880. You might think that’s strange, but come to find out she took off when I was only about two years old, so you can’t expect somebody to remember from when they were that young, right?

Kathrine is two years younger than Chad, and together, Justin, Chad, and Mitch were called The Three Musketeers by Father because of all the mischief they used to get into when they were young. Katherine was the first girl, so of course, she was spoiled (she told me this later). But–believe it or not–Katherine hated the ranch, the dirt, the cattle, the roughness. She wanted to live in the city with Aunt Rebecca, but Father and mother said no. They knew Kate was very self-willed and very strong, stronger even than Aunt Rebecca.

Kate age 8

Well, a long and sad story made short . . . she ran away to the city, but Father brought her back. Then she met a very unprincipled young man named Troy Swanson, and she ran off with him when she was only 15 years old! She turned the family upside down, and it took years to get over it. By that time, Father didn’t want anyone bringing up her name. So that’s why I never knew about her. Kate made a huge mistake running off and marrying that no-good swindler Troy. She was 25 when she came home at last–to ask forgiveness and a place of safety for her 3 little kids. Those kids were as wild as can be. That Levi was horrid! But we’re friends now.

The other thing I didn’t like about Kate coming home was the fact that now I have to share Justin with her. I didn’t know that he’d missed her that much and that the two of them had been really close. Sometimes it’s really hard being the youngest. Everybody else has all these great memories and of course–as usual–I’m left out of them.

The good news is that I’ve come to love Kate (and even the kids). She  moved to San Francisco, and I was actually sad to see them go. They live with Aunt Rebecca (more’s the pity for them).

Kate’s Three Kids

Levi Swanson has had a hard childhood. When my nephew arrives on the ranch, he is a foul-mouthed, fighting brat, who has no use for girls of any kind. That suits me just fine, but I find myself stuck with him. Mitch gives Levi Patches, a paint horse, and eventually Levi and I become friends. He lives with his mother and sisters in San Francisco.  

Elizabeth Swanson (Betsy) is my 6-year-old tag-a-long. Whiny and stubborn, Betsy throws fits and gets into trouble. She adores me and follows me around whenever she can. Betsy has brown hair and brown eyes and likes to ride Coco, our old, old pony. She now lives with her mother, brother, and little sister in San Francisco.  

Hannah Swanson is a spoiled little 3-year-old, with golden curls and blue eyes. She likes to wreck my room, steal my locket, and in general cause all kinds of toddler problems for me. She is never without her doll, Tessie, and she likes to suck her thumb. She is a cuddly little girl and when all is said and done, I learn to love her a lot.


The kids have grown up. Here they are in 1889, during the setting of “Nanny Riley,” from Stranger in the Glade. Levi is 18, Betsy is 15, and Hannah is 12. Levi has grown up and reestablished a relationship with his father, Betsy is shy but good with children, and Hannah is a flighty dreamer.

Levi – 18
Betsy – 15
Hannah – 12
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