Growing Up in the Old West

Mostly fiction-- classic stories about being a young person in an older time.

Worth

By A. LaFaye

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After Nathaniel's leg is crushed in an accident, his father brings home an orphan boy, John Worth, to help work the fields. Worth has come to Nebraska from New York City on the Orphan Train, which brings homeless children west to find new lives. Nathaniel feels increasingly jealous of the boy who has taken over not only his work but the attention of his father, who has barely spoken to him since his injury. In school for the first time he is far behind even his youngest classmates, and he feels as useless there as he does at home.
Meanwhile, Worth is still grieving for his family and his old life. As the farm chores prevent him from going to school, he also resents losing his dream of an education and a good job. And for all the work he does, he knows he will never inherit the farm that he's helping to save.

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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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Jericho's Journey

By G. Clifton Wisler

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As his family makes the long and difficult journey from Tennessee to their new home in Texas in 1852, twelve-year-old Jericho Wetherby, teased by his sister and brothers about his size, learns there are many ways to grow.
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Dear Levi: Letters from the Overland Trail

By Elvira Woodruff

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In 1851, 12-year-old orphan Austin Ives joins a wagon train headed for California. As they make their way across the country, Austin writes home to his brother Levi, describing day-to-day life on the Overland Trail. In his own observant and vigorous voice, Austin tells of the everyday happenings--hunting game and fording streams--as well as more dramatic episodes, from devastating illness to complex encounters with Indians.

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Meet Kaya: An American Girl

By Janet Shaw

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In 1764, when Kaya and her family reunite with other Nez Percé Indians to fish for the red salmon, she learns that bragging, even about her swift horse, can lead to trouble. Includes historical notes on the Nez Percé Indians.
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The Journal of Jesse Smoke: A Cherokee Boy

By Joseph Bruchac

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The Cherokees call The Trail of Tears "Nunda'utsun'yi", or "The Place Where the People Cried". Jesse Smoke, his mother, and sisters are forced to abandon their home, their land, and their possessions when they and several thousand other Cherokees are forced west on The Trail of Tears. Illustrations. Fold-out map.

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Away West

By Patricia C. McKissack

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In 1879, thirteen-year-old Everett Turner leaves a life of struggle on his family's farm and runs away to St. Louis, where he works in a livery stable before heading to the all-Black town of Nicodemus, Kansas.
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The Abernathy Boys

By L. J. Jones

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A fictionalized account of the adventurous 1909 journey of nine-year-old Bud Abernathy and his five-year-old brother, Temp, who traveled alone, mostly on horseback, from their home in Oklahoma to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and back again, crossing the vast, desert-like no-man's-land in the Texas Panhandle known as the caprock.
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Rodzina

By Karen Cushman

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"One of a group of orphans, 12-year-old Rodzina boards a train on a cold day in March 1881. She's reluctant to leave Chicago, the only home she can remember, and she knows there's no substitute for the family she has lost. She expects to be adopted and turned into a slave--or worse, not to be adopted at all. As the train rattles westward, Rodzina unwittingly begins to develop attachments to her fellow travelers, even the frosty orphan guardian, and to accept the idea that there might be good homes for orphans-maybe even for a big, combative Polish girl. But no placement seems right for the formidable Rodzina, and she cleverly finds a way out of one bad situation after another, until at last she finds the family that is right for her."
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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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