Rough Enough by Richard McBee traces the life of Richard Clow from his time on his brother-in-law's farm in Massachusetts to his death in Eugene, Oregon.
|Battle of Petersburg|
In this part of McBee's biography, the author skillfully complements Clow's letters with narrative that explains comments in the letters. McBee's commentary provides a good model for author's wishing to publish dairies and correspondence.
Sadly, McBee had few first person resources for the rest of his biography. We have Clow's diary which is an interesting collection of songs, shopping lists, and notations. Unfortunately, this notebook requires McBee to draw on secondary sources to develop a rough picture of Clow's life after the Civil War. Happily, the author is able to use these references to recreate Clow's experiences in the west.
Following his military career, Clow starts life as a civilian in 1870 when he goes to work for the famous trader Charles Larpenteur at Fort Buford. Clow marries Larpenteur's stepdaughter Mary Bingham. Tragedy strikes in 1872 after the family moves to Little Sioux, Iowa. His new born daughter dies less than two months after her birth in January. Clow's wife soon joins her daughter when she dies in April. His friend and mentor, Charles Larpenteur, dies that November. Readers might want to read Larpenteur's Forty Years a Fur Trader on the Upper Missouri: The Personal Narrative of Charles Larpenteur, 1833-1872.
Following his losses, Clow moves to Deadwood in the Dakota Territory where he begins a new career mining for gold. He meets his second wife, Melinda Story, and they have two children. The Clows spend the remainder of the their life in Idaho and Oregon homesteading, mining, and running a hotel. Clow died in 1926 at 79 after ably demonstrating that he was Rough Enough for all the hardships that life could place in his path.
Richard McBee has been a secondary school principal for over thirty years in schools in South America, Africa, Europe, and the United States. He wrote Rough Enough to chronicle the life of his great grandfather Richard Clow. He is the author of Kalahari, a novel about the struggle for Black African rule in southern Africa, that is based on Richard's experiences in Botswana in the 1970s. Richard and his wife live in Hood River, Oregon.