Title: Abandoned on the Wild Frontier
Author: Dave & Neta Jackson
Series: Trailblazer Books
Major Themes: Peter Cartwright, Pioneers, Frontier Life, Circuit Riders, Historical Fiction
Synopsis: Gilbert lost his parents in the War of 1812; could circuit-riding preacher Peter Cartwright help him find his mother?
I remember discovering the Trailblazer books when they first started coming out in the early 1990s. I had not read very much historical fiction at that point and was very excited to find these books which put real historical characters into an engaging story. There is so much historical fiction available now, both Christian and secular, that it’s hard to imagine it being a new thing, but for me, then, it was. I eagerly read each of these books soon after it was published, including Abandoned on the Wild Frontier. Either before that time, or soon after, I also found a biography of Peter Cartwright at the library, and was delighted to find that several incidents were in both books.
Gilbert Hamilton was raised by his aunt and uncle in Kentucky after losing both parents in Michigan during the War of 1812. He knew he was not really welcome in their home—but where else could he go? He could hardly stand not knowing for sure if his mother was alive or dead, but how could he find out? And if she was alive, where would she be? He went to a camp meeting held by the Methodist circuit-riding preacher Peter Cartwright, and when his trouble-making cousin started visiting Cartwright’s daughter, went with him to the preacher’s home. Peter was able to help Gilbert find some information about his mother’s captor, but what good would that information do?
When Peter Cartwright decided to move his family to Illinois, Gilbert requested to go along, hoping he would have the chance to find his mother, since he had heard that the Indian who captured her went there. The trip to Illinois was marked by tragedy—what would Gilbert do if the Cartwrights decided to turn back? And when he did get to Illinois, how could he ever find the one woman he was looking for?
Abandoned on the Wild Frontier is a great story about learning to trust God, even in tough circumstances. It is also a great introduction to a man that most people have never heard of, but who made a great difference in many people’s lives. The chapters are short enough for most children to read in one sitting, and the story is engaging enough to appeal to most children. I know mine enjoyed it!
WARNING: A child died in chapter 9.
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12