The Western Saga is about the McTavish family and their decision to go West. Find out how it all began.

The Decision: Let's Go West!

Charleston, S.C., Early 1820s
Samuel Franklin threw down his broom. "Elisabeth McTavish Franklin, pack your trunks. I'll not be sweeping up after drunks anymore when there's land for settling out west."

"Now, Sam, me love. Don't you be getting none of yore wild ideas. Why our firstborn's barely quit suckling and I'm breedin' agin. Now, you pick up that broom and go on with ya work 'fore my da comes in and finds ya a shirkin' ya duties."
Samuel moved across to where she was wiping glasses behind the counter while rocking Jacob's cradle with her foot. The lad would soon be too big for the bed, he noticed. He still wondered at his luck in having the beautiful, redheaded, Scottish immigrant as his wife. "Honey, ain't you tired of working for others? Don't you feel trouble brewing in the air? Changes are comin' and they may not be for the best."

He walked around the bar and took her red, chapped hands in his, halting her polishing. "Here in Charleston, I'll never be more than a pub sweeper or, at best, a clerk. But out west..." His eyes took on a dreamy, far
away look. "That's where the real fortunes will be made. Can't you just see us with a piece of land and some cattle and horses to leave to our be-gets? I swear, darlin', if you'll go with me, I'll give you things you'd never have here."

"Why, Samuel, I do believe ya serious. Is this what ya really aim to do?" Elisabeth's gaze searched Samuel's face for the truth. Her husband of almost two years was sturdy and true. But he was also a man who yearned for new lands and new adventures, much like her Da had been when he talked Ma into bringing the family to this New Land. She placed a hand along his cheek     for a moment and then returned to polishing the glass.

"Tis full of dangers, I hear. Indians and drought, or floods and storms; depends on who ya listenin' to. And tis a long journey. How ever would we manage with a little one and another on the way?"

Samuel rubbed his chin. He'd heard there might be a wagon train heading out west before long. They could take the train to Missouri and get outfitted there to join up. Guess he'd better ask more about that. Maybe Mr. McTavish would stake him in exchange for the gold pocket watch and those gold doubloons his pa left him. He'd saved a bit, too, hoping to rent a room instead of staying in the crowded space above this pub McTavish managed.

"We'll see if yore sister Moira wants to see new lands and she can help you. With ten mouths to feed and the young ones sleeping atop each other, you know yore pappy will be glad of us to take her, and maybe one of the lads, say Sean, with us. What do you say, my love? Will you come with me?"

"Well..." Elisabeth saw the glint of excitement and steely determination in his eyes. Heaving a heartfelt sigh, she answered, "I'll not be leavin' you to find ya way without me, Samuel Franklin. When I said me vows, I swore 'em afore God and me parents. I aim to be akeepin' 'em."
* * * * *
Samuel, Elisabeth, and their son Jacob, along with sixteen-year-old Moira and twelve-year-old Sean, rode the train to Missouri in May. They joined a wagon train and were headed west by the end of the month.  The resilience of hardy immigrants like the McTavish family and the pioneering spirit of men like Samuel Franklin helped settle the American West and sparked the growth of our nation.
Join us as we share a few exciting tales about members of these families.

PDF24    Send article as PDF