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Read and Share the story of “The Promise” this Black History Month

Promise cover final

If you’re looking for a new way and a new story to celebrate Black History Month with your family, read The Promise with your children this month. 

The Promise is based on the true story of an enslaved family that traveled the Oregon Trail in search of freedom.

Their owner promised them freedom if they helped his family make the move – but then went back on his promise when his financial fortunes sank during the trip.

It took a nice Quaker family and an abolitionist-leaning judge to make that “promise” a reality.

It’s time for a new story.  It’s time to share The Promise with your young family.


Share this amazing story with your friends and family today!

Order your copy of The Promise today

Print Edition | Kindle Edition

The Promise – A study guide

The Promise Study Guide

promise-study-guide

(Download PDF version of this study guide)

Vocabulary

  • Slavery: the institution of forced labor where one person is the legal property another.
  • Abolitionist: a person who favors ending slavery.
  • Expansionism: the policy of increasing a country’s size by expanding its territory.
  • Collaboration: act of working jointly on a project.
  • Adaptation: changing a written work to present it in another medium.

History

  • The Oregon Trail was the route west taken by 350,000 to 500,000 men, women and children from the 1840s to the 1860s.
  • The trail began at Independence, Missouri, and ended at Fort Vancouver, (now in Washington State.)
  •  While making the trip almost 10% of the people died from diseases spread by poor sanitation.
  • Travelers packed wagons as light as possible, only taking easily preserved staple foods.
  • Most meals consisted of bacon, beans, coffee, biscuits and bread.
  • Although some people tried to carry along furniture, books, and treasured belongings, as the journey progressed, many pioneers had to throw away extra baggage to avoid overworking the oxen.
  • The 2,000 mile journey took five months by ox-drawn wagon.
  • Today, you could take the same trip 2,000 mile trip on the Oregon Trail by car in 4 days or on a airplane in 4 hours.

Event: “Heads Are Turning, Children Are Learning” Event – May 23, 2015

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Heads Are Turning, Children Are Learning – California African-American Museum Celebrates Children’s Literacy

Since 2004, in celebration of National Children’s Book Week, we present local Los Angelels authors and celebrity readers in CAAM’s galleries. The activities of the day also include an arts and crafts workshop, literacy workshops, face-painting, and book giveaways for families in attendance.

Saturday, May 23, 2015
11am – 4 pm

Free and open to the public. Parking: $10.

The California African American Museum is easily accessible from the Metro Expo line using the Exposition Park/USC Station. (See map below)

RSVP preferred: 213.744.2024

California African American Museum
600 State Drive Exposition Park
Los Angeles, CA 90037

[MAP]

Authors of “The Promise” to present workshop as part of “Heads Are Turning, Children Are Learning” Event – May 23, 2015

Please join Dr. Rosanne Welch and Dawn Comer Jefferson for Literacy Day at the California African American Museum. We will be doing a workshop for kids as well as readings from our book, The Promise. Signed copies of The Promise will also be available for purchase.

Promise cover 150

The day includes several local authors offering writing workshops and book signings, celebrities reading books, art and crafts, book giveaways and music. And there will be a lunch truck on the premises.

We hope to see you there!

Caam logo

Heads Are Turning, Children Are Learning – California African-American Museum Celebrates Children’s Literacy

Since 2004, in celebration of National Children’s Book Week, we present local Los Angelels authors and celebrity readeres in CAAM’s galleries. The activities of the day also include an arts and crafts workshop, literacy workshops, face-painting, and book giveaways for families in attendance.

Caam literacy 2014

The Promise Co-Author, Dawn Comer Jefferson, presents at 2014 CAAM Literacy Day Event

Saturday, May 23, 2015
11am – 4 pm

Free and open to the public. Parking: $10.

The California African American Museum is easily accessible from the Metro Expo line using the Exposition Park/USC Station. (See map below)

RSVP preferred: 213.744.2024

California African American Museum
600 State Drive Exposition Park
Los Angeles, CA 90037

[MAP

Scenes from 2014 CAAM Literacy Day Event

  

African-American History Month #3: Hiram Young (1812-1882): Wagon maker for the Oregon Trail from BlackPast

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Hiram Young (1812-1882)

[…]

Taking advantage of his location near the beginning of  the Oregon, Santa Fe, and other major overland  trails in the 1850s, Young built wagons for western emigrants and for farmers in the area.  He also made freighters for the U.S. government.   Independence’s first mayor and Santa Fe merchant, William McCoy, served as his business manager.  Until 1855, Young had a free black man as a business partner, Dan Smith.   Smith left Independence due to increasing anti-free black sentiment in the area.  The Young family, however, remained.

By 1860, Young was turning out thousands of yokes and between eight and nine hundred wagons a year.  He employed about 20 men in his workshops, which included seven forges.  Census officials noted 300 completed wagons and 6,000 yokes in 1860 when they tallied Young’s property.  Young branded his work “Hiram Young and Company” along with the purchaser’s initials.  The wagons Young and his men built could haul nearly 6,000 pounds and were pulled by up to 12 oxen and his factory was one of the largest businesses in Independence and Jackson County, Missouri.  He described himself at the time as “a colored man of means.”

[…]

Read more about Hiram Young on BlackPast.org

Western Freight Wagon

Wagon similar to those made by Hiram Young

Hiram Young – Black Entrepreneur and U.S. western expansion from Jackson County Historical Societ on Vimeo.


Previously on Africa-American History Month:

African-American History Month #2: African American Military Portraits From the American Civil War Exhibit at LA Public Library

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We came across this flyer on one of our regular visits to the local library. Quite a few of the images are available online.

African-American History Month #2: African American Military Portraits From the American Civil War Exhibit at LA Public Library

The mostly forgotten role of African-American soldiers and sailors in the American Civil War is revealed and celebrated in the exhibition “African American Military Portraits from The American Civil War: Selected Images from The Library of Congress Collections.”

The exhibit, which is from the California African American Museum (CAAM), provides a compelling portrait of the 180,000 African American soldiers and commemorates the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War.

“When most people think of the Civil War they just think of slaves and they don’t realize a lot of the black soldiers were volunteers from the north and were free,” said Ed Garcia, CAAM exhibition curator. “I wanted to show the pictures and tell the stories of the black soldiers who have been completely forgotten.”

Exhibit runs until April 4, 2015

Previously on Africa-American History Month:

African-American History Month #1: Slavery in Oregon: The Reuben Shipley Saga from BlackPast

African american history month 1

As part of African-American History Month, we’ll be linking to a series of true stories that also involve the Oregon Trail and the American West like the characters in The Promise.

Slavery in Oregon: The Reuben Shipley Saga from BlackPast.org

[..]

Reuben Shipley was brought to Oregon as a slave in 1853 by his white owner, Robert Shipley, over the Oregon Trail from Miller County, Missouri. The white Shipley—my distant ancestor—had promised the black Shipley that if he helped him start his farm in Oregon, he would give him his freedom.

A painful choice confronted Reuben Shipley. In exchange for the prospect of being free, he faced leaving behind his wife and two sons, who belonged to other slaveholders. But if he decided to remain in Missouri near his family, he would be sold as a slave to another owner.

[…]

Reuben Shipley was taken to Oregon, a six-month trip of 2,000 miles. According to the family genealogy, he resolved that once free, he would save enough money to buy his family’s freedom in Missouri and bring them to Oregon. He never saw them again.

Shipley, who did get his freedom, was by no means alone as a slave brought to Oregon. I was to learn over the next several years that there were as many as 50 slaves who came with early settlers, most of them from Missouri. Some were released soon after they arrived; others kept much longer. Yes, the number is miniscule compared with the 115,000 slaves in Missouri in 1860, and the four million slaves nationwide. But a slave is a slave. And this was Oregon, a free state which admitted to the Union in 1859, and a solidly blue state today, jokingly referred to as part of the nation’s “Left Coast,’’ along with Washington and California.

Read the entire article on BlackPast.org

Sources: Greg Nokes, Breaking Chains: Slavery on Trial in the Oregon Territory (Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2013);  Quintard Taylor, “Slaves and Free Men: Blacks in the Oregon Country, 1840-1860,” Oregon Historical Quarterly 83:2 (Summer 1982). 

On the Trail: Farewell Bend, Huntington, Oregon

America is full of history and the Oregon Trail is one large part of that history. Over the next several weeks, we’ll be highlighting a site, park or visitor center dedicated to helping us learn more about the Oregon Trail.


Farewell Bend Park

Farewell Bend Scenery

23751 U.S. 30 Business, Huntington, OR 97907

A friend, fellow blogger and great photographer, of my husband Douglas, Mike McBride was driving across America this summer and posted these shots along the Oregon Trail. You can find more scenic photographs by Mike using the links below. Just one of the many scenes along the 2,000 mile Oregon Trail.

Farewell Bend and the Oregon Trail

After following the Snake River for 330 miles, Oregon Trail pioneers rested above the bend in the river here, then bid farewell to the Snake River and continued their trek. Look for a small iron cross, visible from U.S. 30, that marks the location where the Snake River Shoshone Indians battled with pioneer travelers in 1860.  Restored covered wagons rest at the park entrance and next to the Oregon Trail kiosk.  You can also visit the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center on Flagstaff Hill just east of Baker City, no more than an hour’s drive away.

Farewell Bend State Recreation Area web site

Previously on On the Trail:

Video: A Presentation on “The Promise” – A Reading of Chapter One

Video: Video: A Presentation on

Dawn Comer Jefferson (L) and Dr. Rosanne Welch (R) present on their book, The Promise

 

On Friday March 21st my co-author, Dawn Comer Jefferson and I had the pleasure of making a presentation on “Slavery and the Oregon Trail” based on our book The Promise to the 3rd, 4th and 5th grades of Carpenter Avenue Elementary School as the guests of the non-profit Parents For Carpenter.

Print Edition | Kindle Edition