Country Whispers


Back in the eighteen hundreds

when wagon trains moved west,

folks faced harrowing hardships,

but pushed thru’ to meet the test.

As I read the diaries of those ones

who traveled o’re the land,

I do not see what spurred them on

when death was close at hand.

The worst I think I’ve ever heard

has given me nightmares.

It’s ‘bout the children left behind—

the innocents unaware.

Wagon trains kept a schedule

to cross mountains by late fall,

or be stranded like the Donners,

and hear their Maker’s call.

Each morning when folks rose up,

they did their needed chores,

then women gathered little ones

to place on wagon floors.

But now and then a child was lost,

wandering from the camp,

and wagon masters could not wait

to find the little scamp.

They’d search and search the woodlands,

and walk dry river beds,

but if they couldn’t find the child,

they had to forge ahead.


Now, can you just imagine

how distraught a Mom would be

to leave her precious child behind—

never more to see?

To wonder if he cried for her,

or if animals stalked her child,

or was he taken by a squaw,

or just lost in the wild?

Did he starve, or freeze to death

when nightfall crossed the land

too many days for him to count

tiny fingers on each hand?

I think I’d be half crazy,

I could not move ahead.

I’d rather die in the wilderness

with my dear, lost child instead.

Tamara Hillman