Pioneers

Nell Johnson Doerr’s husband rolled her up in a carpet so she’d survive Quantrill’s 1863 raid on Lawrence. Lying alongside the limestone foundation of her house, she hears her husband’s murder but is powerless to help him.

Kansas writer Thomas Fox Averill’s entirely fictitious book, “Found Documents from the Life of Nell Johnson Doerr,” is rooted in the abolitionist movement, but the character of Nell begins to live and breathe while trapped in the carpet.Readers familiar with Averill’s work might recall that the protagonists of his novel “rode,” found a baby in a raided house near her dead parents. Nell Johnson Doerr is that baby.

A Never Ending Exodus

Sep 12, 2016
SUSAN HARGAGE PAGE, North Carolina

In my own family History, in 1846 my great great grandfather Alma Helaman Hale was 10 years old when he lost his parents as they lived on the Missouri river near Council Bluffs, Iowa. Alma then joined the Mormon pioneers and with his three siblings traveled from their home to the Salt Lake Valley to settle with Brigham Young as he declared, “This is the Place!” One biography states “At this point we can only conclude that Alma became a man at the tender age of ten. There could be no idleness. The full effort of every person was needed just to keep alive.” In Sonia Nazario’s Enrique’s Journey she describes the immigrants as “facing north, toward a new land, a never-ending exodus.” (70) For many, this is a religious journey towards a land of new promise. Nazario describes some that bring “a tiny drawing of San Cristóbal, the patron saint of travelers, or of San Judas Tadeo, the patron saint of desperate situations” (70).