Title: A Light in the Wilderness
Author: Jane Kirkpatrick
An awesome and simply moving tale that weaves fiction with historical facts about a colored woman named Letitia. Readers will follow her travels from Missouri to Oregon before it became a state. Letitia travels as the only colored woman married to a white man, though known only to a couple of people because at that time it was illegal. Most people in the wagon train Letitia and David Carson traveled with considered her his property. Most considered themselves better than Letitia, and they often scorned her not allowing her to seek safety in their company.
Reading about the harsh environment and lack of privacy along with the amenities many of us are so accustomed to having when traveling was interesting. The tale has many dangers. Women couldn’t own land regardless of race, and women could only have land in Oregon if they were married. Some marriages were for survival and ownership of property with loss of life being very common.
I doubt any woman back then would have known that a novel would reflect their story or that various items made would now be in a museum for others to view. It makes one think,”What will others who come after us learn about the times we lived in and actions we did or didn’t take?” Letitia had two children, a girl who later married and moved away with her husband onto a reservation and Adam her son who never married and remained on his mother’s land after she died. He was later buried beside her.
Letitia’s husband came to America from Ireland. In order to become a citizen, he had to renounce any ties to the government and land in Ireland. It took years for him to get papers that proved he was a citizen and could legally own land and property. His character in the novel showed his wandering nature, but also his love for Letitia and their two children. David Carson was married before and he had a son who followed him and demanded his father’s property after his father’s death. There were some people in the book who thought a lot of Letitia and stood by her in good times and bad. In Missouri, there were men who patrolled, looking for slaves who weren’t carrying “free” papers and then returning them to the rightful owners. Can you imagine walking the street, worrying about the patrollers finding you and then perhaps receiving lashes before being returned as property?
Most of the tale shows how people can learn from each other and make it through life by drawing upon each other’s strengths, relying on the Lord to watch over the “sparrow”.
My rating is 5 stars.
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