Hank of Twin Rivers, Book One: Journey of Change
Twelve-year-old Hank loses his mother to cholera in 1855. When Hank’s pa leaves their Iowa homestead to find free land in Nebraska, Hank is forced to go with him. Uncle Mac brings Irish humor into Hank's life and serves as a cushion between Hank and his father. Hank tangles with thieves, meets a black trapper along the Platte, and discovers the preacher's daughter, a tomboy who doesn't like boys. More
This first book of the series introduces twelve-year-old Hank Heaton and his family who follow the emigrants’ trail from Iowa along the Missouri River to the merging Platte Rivers in western Nebraska in the mid-1800's. Historically correct, the novel takes readers into the exciting and dangerous adventures of a pioneer boy. The story begins at a settlement in Buck Creek, Iowa. Hank lives with his over-protective mother and a domineering father who believes that harsh discipline will make his son into a man. When cholera takes his mother and his little sister, Hank's only comforts are his wisecracking, fiddle-playing Irish uncle; his pet cow, Clementine; and memories of his adored mother.
When Hank’s father decides to homestead land in western Nebraska, Hank rebels. Pa’s discipline is quick and painful and Hank has to obey. They follow the wild Platte River on the Oregon Trail. Crossing sandbur-infested prairies, fording raging rivers, and eating dust while walking behind the slow wagon fill Hank's days. He withstands the unpredictable mid-western weather of hailstorms, dust storms, an early blizzard and flash floods. Stampeding buffalo, murdering claim jumpers, an Indian attack, a rattlesnake and a belligerent goose provide plenty of challenges for a pioneer boy.
His troubles are lightened when he finds friends along the trail: Rusty, a Southern boy from Missouri; Nora, a teasing eight-year-old girl from Wisconsin; and Moses, an escaped slave who makes his living as a trapper. In the Platte Valley Pa sets up a trading post to service wagon trains on both the Mormon and Oregon Trails. When an itinerant preacher and his large family settle nearby, Hank meets his best friend for life, the preacher’s daughter, Becca.