Questions to Consider
1. Why did Mrs. Lawton decide to leave Betsy, not quite 15, in charge of the farm for 10 days?
2. Which farm work would you find most difficult? Have you ever done any of the jobs Betsy and Johnnie did?
3. What were some of the differences in the ways the French and American settlers lived?
4. What did people in New Madrid think caused the earthquakes? What frightened them the most?
5. What secrets did Rabbit, Lulu, and the Dumonts hide from Betsy?
6. How did Betsy’s attitude change toward Isabella? Why?
7. How did each of the main characters show his or her courage?
8. What foods did Betsy prepare? Do you eat any of them today?
9. What were the arguments for staying or leaving after the earthquakes started? When would you have left? Why?
10. What had Betsy’s parents each taught her about slavery? What did she learn on her own?
Topics to Explore
Food: what they raised, gathered, and hunted; how they preserved it; how they cooked or prepared it; what they bought or bartered for
Clothing: what the men wore, what the women wore, how they made clothing, what they bought
Music: songs they sang, instruments they played
Transportation on the river: flatboats, keelboats, canoes, dugouts, steamboats
Transportation on land: charettes, wagons, sleds, horses and mules
Animals: yellow curs, mules, Devon cattle, Dominique chickens
Historical figures: Tecumseh, Nicholas Roosevelt, John James Audubon, William Clark, Nathan Boone
Other settlements on the Mississippi: Cape Girardeau, Ste. Genevieve, St. Louis, Little Prairie, Big Prairie, Fort Pickering
Medicines: snake oil, poultices, herbs
Political issues: U.S. prohibition of the import of slaves in 1808; boundary lines for Missouri; Tecumseh and the Treaty of Fort Wayne; Shawnee migration to west of the Mississippi; Spanish land grants