Polly Kent Rides West
On April 5, 1849 a wagon train is ready to leave Rock Island, Illinois, heading for California in search of gold. Among these hopeful pioneers—but ostracized because the train will take no women—is a young woman from Wabash River, below Terre Haute, traveling alone with her own light wagon. Polly Kent had hoped to make this trip with her father, who had been with Bonneville years before when he made one of the first official overland crossings to California. His death has now left her alone, but she is well prepared for what lies ahead. Polly joins forces with the Brush family, Colin, his wife, Eusebia and daughter, Anne, and their little party share the suffering and hardships of the incredible 2000-mile trek across rivers, mountains and deserts. They make friends with other travelers, notably Lieutenant Husted Butler, an attorney, and William Murillo, a wealthy adventurer, men who eventually come to appreciate Polly for her resolute character and quiet attractiveness, and who both hope to share in her future once the gold seekers make it to California.
The author convincingly makes use of the unpublished diary of an actual “forty-niner” to give authenticity to his story; combining history and fiction he paints a memorable picture of the hostile landscape—and often tragic circumstances—through which the wagons must pass to reach their goal: “El Dorado”—Sacramento City.
Original date of publication: 1940, Original Book: 304 pages