Kentucky Farm Widow Spent 30 Years Dairy Farming Solo

Betty Rose Young Elliott never planned to be a trailblazer. When she married Lee Earl Elliott in 1942, she was a 17-year-old city girl who moved to the family’s dairy farm and promptly began raising children and gardens.  But tragedy struck in 1966. Lee Earl was burning tree stumps on their western Kentucky farm, clearing land for cultivation. A surprise explosion killed her husband and Betty Rose found herself with an unimaginable decision.

The 41-year-old widow could sell the farm and move to town with her five children. The oldest was 21, and the youngest child was just 9 weeks old.

But Betty Rose was a child of the Great Depression. She knew that land provided security, and she knew it was the only home her children had ever known. So she turned in and learned the dairy business amidst her own grief.

This profile was a true labor of love written in honor of my mother-in-law. She served as the inspiration for the feature article “It Wasn’t Easy:  How Dairywomen Spanning Generations and Geography Have Made Their Mark on the Industry.”  The feature article was published in the November 23, 2016 issue of Progressive Dairyman magazine and the profile appeared on the magazine’s web site December 13, 2016.  Since that time, it has received more than 3,600 shares on Facebook.  The full profile may be read at

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