March 1, 1850
Near Greenfield, Tennessee

Dear Mary,

My name is Lura Harding. I am ten years old. I hope you don't mind my writing to you. Mama says I need to practice my penmanship if I want to be a teacher. I do want to be a teacher.

Papa got your name from a lady in Martin, who got it from a friend in Baltimore. She thought you might like someone to write to. Maybe the lady in Baltimore was your relative? Anyway, I have great news!

Papa says we are going to Oregon. He has sold the farm and bought a big farm wagon. Just as soon as we can pack, we will be heading west. He says we need to go to Independence first. That's in Missouri. We'll buy a lot of our supplies there and join a wagon train!

Mama is sad. We are going to leave a lot of friends here. Uncle Jim is coming with us, but I think Aunt Bet is staying here with friends. She is kind of fat. I'm not supposed to notice such things, but I think she is going to have a baby. Our cow got fat like that just before she had a calf.

It will be some adventure! My father, mother, Uncle Jim, Jacob and I are going.

Jacob is my fourteen-year-old brother. I don't know if my sister, Rachel, will go or not. She's awfully young. She's six years old, but she's a real little six-year-old. Folks think she is four until she starts yapping. Maybe Aunt Bet will keep her and they will come out later.

It's such a hard trip to Oregon. My father says it will take us most of the summer to get there. When we get there, though, we can have a big farm. The one we got is small because Grandpa owned it and he had to split it up between Papa, Uncle Jim, and Uncle Joshua so they could each farm some land. Papa said that happened to Grandpa, too. He had to split his father's land with three of his brothers. Anyway, we've got less than fifty acres to farm and Papa thinks we might get a thousand acres in Oregon. It is going to be grand!

Will you write me back? Tell me what books you like. We don't own many books, but Papa says we will get some more for the trip. Here is the list of what we have:

The Bible. Mama says it is the King James Version. Every family in our parts has a Bible so they can learn about God and keep track of the family births and such.

Green Meadows. This is a poetry book full of good poems. Mama got one because Great-Aunt Lura in Mississippi has some poems in it. It is old. Mama says it was published in 1838. That was the same year she met Papa.

Daboll's Schoolmaster's Assistant. That's an arithmetic book. It was Grandpa's. I've read parts of it. It was published almost thirty years ago in 1820. It's almost as old as Papa.

Papa has a Farmer's Almanac, too. That's not old. He got it two years ago when the crops went bad. He thought it might help. He read it through and tried everything it said, but we couldn't do anything about the rain. Mama said the Bible was more help.

I think the Bible is the most interesting. When all the work is done and Mama wants us to practice our reading, we read from the Bible. It's got all kinds of stories in it. We read from Exodus last night. Papa says we are going to make an exodus of our own all the way to Oregon.

Well, I have to go do chores. There's the cow to milk and I have to shut up the chickens for the night. I hope we can leave those chickens behind!

Your friend,
Lura Harding

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