“I abhor buttermilk, but I adore Mrs. Roberts,” -Theodore Roosevelt

This month we’re recognizing a pioneer from the area. Reflecting on her story from a hundred years ago gives inspiration to us all as we yearn for this very long winter to end. Her husband disappearing in the hardest winter on record in the northern Great Plains (1886), Margaret Robert’s story reminds us of so many women who settled this area who truly had heroic qualities.

As a single mother, an immigrant, and a wife who lost her husband in unimaginable circumstances, she might be the most unlikely person to be described as a hero.

What really defines a hero, though? Leadership, someone who inspires others, or exhibits perseverance–the list goes on.

Imagine for a moment that your husband has disappeared, at the beginning of a winter of non-stop blizzards, and you’re living in an isolated area with no means of support, with five young daughters to provide for.

Realize, also, that most of the unmarried women in the town nearby rely on highly stigmatized and risky forms of financial support- there’s no Chamber of Commerce supporting women in business. You have no family nearby to ask for help–what do you do?

It’s easiest to see Margaret through the eyes of her daughters, and neighbors- especially Theodore Roosevelt.

T.R. called her “the loveliest little woman in the Badlands,” and wrote about Margaret’s generosity. She was known for offering travelers a drink, usually buttermilk.

Margaret’s daughter Kate wrote later that her mother could “knit in the dark, and did so to save kerosene,” selling mittens to the nearby cowboys for a little money, and raised her daughters into “good, decent womanhood.”

Sometimes heroism is simply doing what needs to be done each day and showing up for the people who look up to us.

Thank you, Margaret, for leaving an impact that inspires so many to tackle our own challenges.

You can learn more about Margaret by reaching out to Rolf Sletten, who has published a wonderful tribute to her in his book, Medora; or by visiting the Cowboy Hall of Fame.


Kudos is a program of the local nonprofit organization Women Empowering Women. The program recognizes the good work women do. These are women who’ve lived quietly, joyfully, or creatively to influence our lives. They are an inspiration and deserve to be recognized for their efforts and impact.

Women Empowering Women is dedicated to the collaboration of women to meet needs and help women become the best versions of themselves. To learn more, see https://wewnetwork.org.