Bender’s book tells of Gold Rush era
Carol Bender, who moved to Hartselle from Indiana a year ago to be closer to her son Tom and his wife Amanda and their children, recently released her second novel entitled “In Quest of Gold.”
The book is about the joy and excitement, trials and troubles and death threats her great-grandfather experienced while traveling overland to California as a wagon train hand in 1854.
Jacob P. Prickett was a restless, daydreaming, adventure-seeking boy while growing up in Terre Haute, Ind. His lifelong dream was to hook up with a wagon master
and make an overland journey to Sutter’s Creek, Calif. where thousands of adventurous young men had gone earlier to seek their fortune in gold. Prickett’s motive was not so much the possibility of finding gold as it was the adventure of the trip and being reunited with an older brother who was already there.
At age 17 Prickett found the opportunity for which he was looking. While working a summer job 40 miles from home, he lucked upon a wagon master who was heading west and willing to take him on as wagon driver.
He set out without his parents knowledge, carrying only a small bag of clothes and a few dollars in his pocket. Fortunately, the wagon master took note of his meager possessions and footed the bill for a new trail outfit, which included a suit of durable clothes, a pair of boots, a hat and a Colt revolver.
A wilderness that stretched 1,800 miles, from the Missouri River to the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, brought young Prickett face to face with unforgettable sights, sounds and low life that could only be experienced in wild country. He describes days on end of passing shallow graves where the corpses of those who didn’t make it were laid to rest, three days and nights of crossing a desert without food or water and
encounters with money-grabbing crooks, thieves lurking in the shadows of night and Indians on the warpath.
All of these experiences and more he recorded in a diary and passed them on to future generations of his family.
“His “In Quest of Gold” story has always been in our family,” Bender explained. “He made sure of that by publishing his diary in a series of articles in the Albion New Era, a newspaper he owned and published from 1876 to 1896. After they were published, he glued copies on the back of cardbard and bound them in a big book. After the book was passed down to me, I thought his experiences told an interesting and compelling story of an important era in U.S. history and decided to have them published as a book.”
“In Quest of Gold” was illustrated by Darlene Bender, one of the author’s daughters-in-laws and is available locally at The Book Cellar in Hartselle or Sweet Annie’s at Massey Town. It is also available in hard back, paperback or e-book form Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million or Amazon.
Bender is also the author of “The Doctor’s Little Stowaway,” a true family story of an young girl who crawled into the rumble seat of a doctor’s car in the early 1900’s and had to spend the rest of the day with him as he called on patients at their homes, much to the peril of family members who spend the better part of the day searching for their lost daughter.
This book as well as a companion coloring and activities book are also available locally.