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14-year-old Jacob Harding is traveling the Oregon Trail in 1850. Read his letters as he tells about why they're going, what they hope to find, and what he wants. Follow along as the Harding family faces disease, treacherous river crossings, and Indians. Share Jacob's secrets about his girl friend, a runaway slave, and his sister's birthday surprise.
These fictional letters are historically accurate and reflect the living conditions, slang, and attitudes of the 1850s.
March 1, 1850
Near Greenfield, Tennessee
My name is Jacob Abraham Harding. I’m fourteen years old and a farmer. I hope you like letters because Ma thinks I should write to you. She says I need to practice my penmanship. Pa says a man who can read and write well goes further in the world than one who can’t. I reckon he’s right.
Pa got your name from a lady in Martin who got it from a friend in Chicago. He thought you might like to hear from someone in Tennessee. Maybe her friend was your mother?
We won’t be in Tennessee much longer. Pa sold the farm this week and we are bound for Oregon. In the next week or so, we’ll be packed and on our way to Independence over in Missouri. We’ll buy most of our supplies there and join a wagon train.
This is a big move for us. Our family has been in Tennessee for over seventy years. Grandpa came here in 1780 with his father and brothers. Now we are moving on. We are leaving a lot of family behind. Most we’ll probably never see again.
I know Pa is planning on leaving my youngest sister here. Rachel is just six and a pretty little six-year-old. She’s a runt. Pa said she was born too soon and I think he’s right. Not that Rachel isn’t smart. She just doesn’t have any size to her.
Aunt Bet is staying, too. Uncle Jim wants her to stay put because she’s in a family way. Her baby is due next fall and he doesn’t want it born on the trail. He’ll come back next year and get Aunt Bet and Rachel. I may come with him. We’ll have to spend another winter in Tennessee, though, and Pa might not be able to spare me that long.
Ma and Lura will go with us. Lura is ten years old. She’s silly sometimes, but she does her chores without much prodding. She’ll be a help on the trail.
We’re going to Oregon for land. Our farm here is small--just a third of what Grandpa left. Going to Oregon means we can have a big farm with room to grow. It don’t matter much to me because I’m the only son, but it matters to Pa. He wants me to marry someday and have lots of children.
I reckon I will marry, but not here in Tennessee. I know all the girls here and there’s none I like well enough to settle with. No, I think girls in Oregon must be prettier.
Do you have a sweetheart? Or are you just looking? There’s nothing wrong with just looking. Pa says a man has to be real choosy about his wife. He was twenty-five when he met Ma and it took him nearly a year to court her. Uncle Jim was even older. I figure I got time to just look.
Besides, there is the trail before us and nothing left here in Tennessee. I’m looking forward to the trail, hard as it is supposed to be.
Ellen Anthony is the award-winning author of the Syran novels (science fiction) and the creator of Letters Through Time. Her website is www.planetsyra.com Ms. Anthony lives in Wyoming near the Oregon Trail and loves to walk segments of the trail and visit the old forts.
...Lura's Oregon Trail is an excellent method for children to learn about the American west. Ellen Anthony has written a page turner that is historically accurate and entertaining....Review by Rebecca Broadway.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 104
Paper Weight (lb): 4.8
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