Attention class! Quiet please!
I have written instructions on the board for your California History book report. We will be using books about people who actually made a trip out west by covered wagon, train or ship. Some may find an instance where a person used all three kinds of transportation to finally reach California.
I have some books you may borrow here in front.
Miss Smyth do you have a book about a girl my age?
I think I do, wait...
Yes, here it is.
Yes, she was about your age when her family
came here all the way from Denmark.
That sounds perfect! Thanks!
"When I was quite young, about 9 years old, my father
decided to leave Denmark for America. Papa came home one day with a piece of paper saying land was free in America. Papa told us this was a chance for our family to have our own farm instead of working as a hand for another farmer. It seemed like a very short time and we were saying goodbye to friends and family and heading to Copenhagen to see Papa's Uncle Berger who was a ship owner and promised to do what he could to help make our passage more comfotable."
"The first part of our journey was on a ship called the "Mermaid". Being on a sailing ship was all very exciting at first, but soon became tedious as we ladies were not allowed on deck unless it was quite calm, Captains orders; as he felt we would be in the way of his sailors as they worked."
"After weeks on-board, our first sight of New York made the whole ship erupt with singing and dancing for joy. It had been a long passage and all aboard were eager to stand on solid ground once more."
"My mother and I were on deck and she watched and clapped as we all danced."
"New York was bigger than anything I had ever seen. There were so many buildings and carts and wagons and people, I felt that I could never look long enough to take it all in. Papa said New York was busier even than Copenhagen."
Soon we were out of New York City and driving through the beautiful countryside. We drove that same day to Miller's Basin a small hamlet outside the city where Papa's friend Jans Hansen lived with his family. We would spend 2 or 3 days with the Hansen's and from there we would board a train for Missouri.
"The next day I played in the Hansen's barn and held a lovely little lamb. I remember holding the lamb because it was then I heard Mr. Hansen trying to convince Papa to stay in Miller's Basin, but Papa would not stay. Papa had heard that land was plentiful and free for claiming out West. Then Mr. Hansen said something that I would not quickly forget."
'But Johan, what of the dangers?'
Papa looked quickly over toward me and shushed his friend.
The two men lowered their voices and I heard no more that was said."