1840s -- fiction

The Birchbark House by Louise Erdich

The Birchbark House by Louise Erdich

The Ojibwa trappers had come to trade with the villagers on Spirit Island, but what they saw caused them to turn their boats around and head for home as quickly as they could.  The entire island seemed empty of life. Smallpox, the terrible illness for which the Native Americans had little immunity, had wiped out everyone. Well, almost everyone. Still alive and crawling through the ruins was a baby girl, all alone.

Omakayas, or Little Frog, was soon adopted into another Ojibwa family on Lake Superior’s Madeline Island.  Her life is as rich and full as that of another beloved book character, Laura Ingalls, and there are many similarities between the stories, including the children’s delight in nature and wild creatures.. Omakayas’ family’s everyday activities and celebrations and tragedies are carefully set down, from season to season.  The Birchbark House is foremost a very well-written story with believable, lovable and intriguing characters, including Omakayas’ annoyingly greedy little brother and beautiful but sometimes cold-hearted big sister.  Older generations are also well-represented.  The grandmother, a gifted healer, shares stories of long-ago, and her dreams are filled with omens of things to come and solutions to real-life problems given by the spirit world.

Seeds of Hope: The Gold Rush Diary of Susanna Fairchild

By Kristiana Gregory

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Susanna Fairchild and her family sail from New York to the West, where they plan to start a new life in Oregon. But tragedy strikes when Susanna's mother is lost to the sea. Hearing stories of great wealth, Susanna's physician father decides he wants to join the hordes of men rushing to California to mine for gold.
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Westward to Home

By Patricia Hermes

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In 1848, nine-year-old Joshua Martin McCullough writes a journal of his family's journey from Missouri to Oregon in a covered wagon. Includes a historical note about westward migration.
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The Journal of Jedediah Barstow, an Emigrant on the Oregon Trail: Overland, 1845

By Ellen Levine

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In his 1845 diary, thirteen-year-old orphan Jedediah describes his wagon train journey to Oregon, in which he confronts rivers and sandy plains, bears and rattlesnakes, and the challenges of living with his fellow travelers. Includes historical notes.
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The Werewolf of Paris

By Guy Endore

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This horrific tale, set against the backdrop of the bloody Franco-Prussian War in the 1840s, pulls no punches as it delves into the heart of the beast and begs the question, what is the nature of true evil. A classic of its kind, in many ways comparable to Stoker's Dracula.

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