California Trail Discovered

Series: The Whitcomb Discoveries

Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fiction

Current Status: Editing

100% Complete • 28000 out of 28000 words

Traveling the Oregon and California Trails in 1846, Daniel Whitcomb (a fictional teen) and Virginia Reed (a historical teen and member of the Donner Party) find their lives forever changed when their wagon train leaders choose an unexplored trail.

Note: Teachers and homeschoolers using this book as part of their social studies and/or language arts curriculum will find S.T.E.A.M. lessons for the novel at the link below.

An Inside Look at California Trail Discovered

Chapter One - The Fire

February 10, 1846
Princeton Township, Bureau County, Illinois

Daniel flailed his arms and struggled to free himself from Morgan’s grasp as he stared at his childhood home, now engulfed in flames. “Let me go!” His voice cracked. “Ma and Pa are in there!”

Morgan adjusted his grip around Daniel’s broad chest. “I already tried to get them out.” His voice came thick and heavy. “There was no way. Sorry, son.”

Daniel pounded on Morgan’s arms, but his father’s business partner held fast. Daniel’s breath came in short gasps as he watched a chain of neighbors pass water buckets up the hill from the creek behind his home. Splashing buckets of water onto the flames did as much good as spitting on a garden to make it grow during a drought.

A full moon cast ghoulish shadows onto the ground while flames licked the sides of the house and billowed out the roof. Numbness rose from Danie's feet to his arms. His whole body shook. "I should've gotten here sooner. I went to our blacksmith shop after supper..." Daniel tried to explain, but a wave of shock and hysteria cut off his thoughts. "Oh, God!" His voice cracked again.

Releasing his grip around Daniel’s chest, Morgan laid a hand on the boy’s shoulder— gentle, but firm.

Daniel turned to face him. “What am I gonna do?” ....

A week after the housefire, Daniel sifted through the scorched remains of his home in search of something to salvage. Kicking his parents’ twisted metal bedframe, he glanced at Pastor Lovejoy. “Pastor, do Hannah and I have to move West with Morgan and his relatives?”

Pastor Lovejoy nudged a pile of ash with the toe of his leather boot. “Morgan Savage is your legal guardian now. You have to go where he goes.”

Daniel thrust his arm out and pointed west. “But all the way to the Oregon Country?”

The pastor pinned Daniel with a stare. “Son, it’s your job now to care for little Hannah. You might only be thirteen, but you’re a survivor. And, by God’s grace, I know you’ll do more than just survive."

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