The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins. — H. L. Mencken

Martha of California - James Otis

This book follows the life of Martha, a young girl from Missouri who travels to California by way of the Oregon trail. The story is told in the first person by a young lady who travels with her family in a covered wagon and relates the adventures encountered on the trail, including confrontations with Indians, night time travel over deserts and salt fields, hunting excursions, and difficulties with livestock and provisions.

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The author of this series of stories for children has endeavored simply to show why and how the descendants of the early colonists fought their way through the wilderness in search of new homes. The several narratives deal with the struggles of those adventurous people who forced their way westward, ever westward, whether in hope of gain or in answer to "the call of the wild," and who, in so doing, wrote their names with their blood across this country of ours from the Ohio to the Columbia.

To excite in the hearts of the young people of this land a desire to know more regarding the building up of this great nation, and at the same time to entertain in such a manner as may stimulate to noble deeds, is the real aim of these stories. In them there is nothing of romance, but only a careful, truthful record of the part played by children in the great battles with those forces, human as well as natural, which, for so long a time, held a vast portion of this broad ,land against the advance of home seekers.

With the knowledge of what has been done by our own people in our own land, surely there is no reason why one should resort to fiction in order to depict scenes of heroism, daring, and sublime disregard of suffering in nearly every form.


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Books Consulted in Writing
Martha of California

BRYANT, EDWIN.: What I saw in California. D. Appleton & Co.
CLAMPITT, JOHN W.: Echoes from the Rocky Mountains. Belford, Clarke & Co.
CONNERLLY, WILLIAM ELSEY: Doniphan's Expedition. Pub. by the Author.
DEXTER, A. HERSEY: Early Days in California. Tribune-Republican Press.
DRAKE, SAMUEL ADAMS: The Making of the Great West. Charles Scribner's Sons.
FREMONT, J. C.: The Second Expedition. Washington.
KNOWER, DANIEL: The Days of a Forty-Niner. Weed, Par-sons Print. Co.
PAXSON, FREDERICK L.: The Last American Frontier. The Macmillan Company.
THORTON, J. QUINN: Oregon and California. Harper & Brothers.
WOODS, DANIEL B.: Sixteen Months at the Gold Diggings. Harper & Brothers.


Front Matter

A Change of Homes
"Joe Bowers"
The Reasons for Moving
Mother's Anxiety
How we were to Travel
Our Movable Home
Leaving Ashley
Eben Jordan
On the Road
Eben's Predictions
What about California
The First Encampment
Night in Camp
The Town of Independence
Kansas Indians
Looking into the Future
A Stormy Day
A Lack of Fuel
Making Camp in a Storm
A Thunderstorm
Another Company of Pikers
The Stock Stray Away
An Indian Village
I Weary with Traveling
Eben's Boasts
Suffering with Thirst
In Search of Water
Quenching Our Thirst
Making Butter
A Kansas Ferry
At Soldier Creek
Bread Making
Prairie Peas
Eben as a Hunter
A Herd of Buffaloes
Excitement in the Camp
A Feast of Buffalo Meat
Curing the Meat
A Wash Day
Uncomfortable Traveling
Ellen's Advice
Indians and Mosquitoes
Prairie Dogs
Colonel Russell's Mishap
Chimney Rock
At Fort Laramie
Cooking in a Fireplace
Trappers, Hunters, Indians
On the Trail Once More
Independence Rock
Arrival at Fort Bridger
Toward California
At Bear River
The Coming of Winter
Utah Indians
A Dangerous Trail
Sunflower Seeds and Antelope
A Forest Fire
The Great Salt Lake
Eben as a Fisherman
Grasshopper Jam
A Deserted Village
The Great Salt Desert
A Dangerous Journey
Bread and Coffee Making
Breaking Camp at Midnight
Approaching the Salt Desert
A Plain of Salt
Like A Sea of Frozen Milk
Salt Dust
A Bitter Disappointment
Coffee instead of Water
A Spring of Sweet Water
The Oasis
Searching for Water
The Beautiful Valley
Snake Indians
A Scarcity of Food
Springs of Hot Water
In the Land of Plenty
The Truckee River
The Sacramento Valley
The Mission of San Jose
Our Home in California