A small village of a few hundred inhabitants on the Missouri River, Florence grows to become a bustling frontier town of four thousand in just a few weeks as the Saints converge to prepare for the wagon trip across the plains. Among the first to arrive, William and his family are at the center of the planning and preparations required for the trip. The author describes in interesting detail how the Church organized and dispatched both independent and Church-sponsored wagon trains westward.
William and his family are assigned to the last Church-sponsored train to depart Florence. Using his great-great-grandfather's and other contemporary journals, the author accurately dramatizes the arduous journey. The reader will gain an unusual appreciation of the rigors of covered-wagon travel. Toward the end of the journey, William experiences an illness that causes him and his family to fall out of the wagon train.