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Chapter One

The Oregon Trail, July 1862

We had been traveling through steadily inclining foothills for days now. The wagon master said we would arrive at Fort Laramie soon, which worried and excited me. My future husband, Jason Hatch, waited there, or at least I prayed he had made it safely to the isolated trading post. We had been on the trail since the beginning of May, and everyone was exhausted. Morale was low.

My parents, who had decided to join me, were seated in the wagon, while I walked, as I had for weeks, my feet crunching over a dusty, well-worn road. This was how my sisters had arrived in the Colorado Territory, meeting their future husbands, either on the trail or in Denver City, and settling happily. While the country was in the grips of a Civil War, the north and south strongly divided, we had begun our westward migration, the entire family embracing the opportunity to live a new life.

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