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  • Writer's pictureCate Jen

Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie: The Oregon Trail Diary of Hattie Campbell

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

Welcome to a new season of The Ribbon Book Club! We're starting off on this journey with the fifth book in the Dear America series, Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie: The Oregon Trail Diary of Hattie Campbell. This book features our first returning author, Kristiana Gregory who also wrote The Winter of Red Snow. Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie was published in March of 1997 and the story takes place during the year 1847.

Hattie and her family: Ma, Pa, and two younger brothers, Ben and Jake are setting off on the Oregon Trail in search of better farmland and to get away from the growing population of their hometown in Missoura. Hattie is sad to say goobye to her best friend. But she soon makes new friends: Pepper and her twin brother, Wade, on the trail. We are also introduced to Tall Joe, the wagon train leader, Mrs. Bigg, a fellow traveller who is large of body and of heart, and Mrs. Kenker, an older traveller with a secret. Throughout the journey Hattie must face her fears and her prejudices as she learns what it means to live in community.

Listen to Part 1 of our discussion below:

In Part 2, we follow Hattie and the rest of the wagon train through the final part of their journey to Oregon. Along the way they experience some serious ups and downs (both literally and emotionally). Tune in for some drama and rants about how adults should act.

For our historical note, we sat down with our guest, Chris Carey, a ranger for the National Parks Service who served recently at the Whitman Mission National Historic Site. If that name sounds familiar, it might be because it is mentioned in our book! In the story, Hattie's Aunt June is hoping to reconnect with her friend, Narcissa Whitman who had gone west with her husband Marcus to serve as Christian Missionaries.

Ranger Chris Carey tells us the story of what happened at the mission, filling in some of the gaps left by our book. It's not a happy story, but it is an important piece of American history. Tune in to our conversation below:


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