A Grave Every Mile | Epic Western Historical Fiction by David Fitz-Gerald

A Grave Every Mile: A Pioneer Western Adventure
David Fitz-Gerald

Embark on a harrowing trek across the rugged American frontier in 1850. Your wagon awaits, and the untamed wilderness calls. This epic western adventure will test the mettle of even the bravest souls.
Dorcas Moon and her family set forth in search of opportunity and a brighter future. Yet, what awaits them is a relentless gauntlet of life-threatening challenges: miserable weather, ravenous insects, scorching sunburns, and unforgiving terrain. It’s not merely a battle for survival but a test of their unity and sanity.
Amidst the chaos, Dorcas faces ceaseless trials: her husband’s unending bickering, her daughter’s descent into madness, and the ever-present danger of lethal rattlesnakes, intensifying the peril with each step. The specter of death looms large, with diseases spreading and the eerie howls of rabid wolves piercing the night. Will the haunting image of wolves desecrating a grave push Dorcas over the edge?
With each mile, the migration poses a haunting question: Who will endure the relentless quest to cross the continent, and who will leave their bones to rest beside the trail? The pathway is bordered by graves, a chilling reminder of the steep cost of dreams.
A Grave Every Mile marks the commencement of an unforgettable saga. Start reading Ghosts Along the Oregon Trail now to immerse yourself in an expedition where every decision carries the weight of life, death, and the pursuit of a brighter future along the Oregon Trail.
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Enjoy an Excerpt from Chapter 16:
Cottonwood Creek, April 28, 1850

When I return to our wagon to launder dirty clothes, Andrew and Christopher complain that they can’t find Rose. They were hoping to leave Dahlia Jane with their sister, but Rose is missing, again. I ask Larkin where Rose is, and he throws his arms up as if aggravated about being asked. “I’m sure that she’ll turn up when she’s done being wherever she is. That’s how children are.”
Ignoring Larkin, I step into the wagon master’s camp and ask if they’ve seen Rose. Arikta tells me that he saw her about an hour ago. He points to the southwest and says she was walking along Cottonwood Creek. The serious-looking scout grows even more intense. “I can track her for you.”
Recalling the proper hand signals, I put my hands flat in front of me, palms down, and move them together in a downward arc away from me. Arikta smiles and says, “You are welcome, Dorcas.”
If I weren’t concerned about my missing daughter, I would enjoy walking with Arikta along the creek bed. Every so often, he stops and shows me a sign that she has passed by. His trained eye doesn’t miss the broken twigs and parted grasses that show where someone has been. After an hour, he points at an odd-looking structure above the creek’s bank. “There,” he says.
A giant, twenty-five-foot-high mound of earth stands above us. Arikta says, “My people live in these earth lodges. This one is abandoned. Do you think that Rose would go inside?”
I nod. That’s exactly where I expect to find Rose. There is a short tunnel in front of the earth mound, also made of dirt. The mouth looks like a doorless entrance with long sticks propped against both sides.
We climb the creekbank, and Arikta tells me to wait. He scampers to the top of the mound. Then he flips a rigid cover from its summit and returns to my side. He looks at me and says, “Let’s go in, Dorcas.”
I’m amazed by what we find inside. A beam of bright light pours through the hole at the peak of the mound. Rose kneels on an animal skin in front of a circle of stones, a fire pit with no smoke or flames. She nods her head to the beat of an unheard drum. I say her name, but she doesn’t seem to hear me. I’ve come to expect such odd behavior from her. I breathe deeply, feeling like a trespasser.
Arikta whispers as if he doesn’t want to disturb Rose. “My family lived here many years ago.”
I look at him, place a hand on his arm, and then look around the structure. Giant timbers form a square, like support beams, around the fire circle. Red, white, black, and yellow painted posts support a roof constructed of timbers that radiate around the structure. Behind those long poles, woven saplings hold back the dirt outside. Blankets hang around the perimeter above what looks like sleeping chambers. I think the earth lodge looks occupied rather than long abandoned.
Arikta whispers. “A lot of people lived here before the smallpox epidemic.”
“I’m so sorry, Arikta. Thank goodness you survived.”
“Yes. We were away, hunting buffalo when everyone here died. Very sad. We buried their bones when we returned.”
Rose stands and walks around the structure. As she pauses beside each compartment, she pulls back each blanket as if listening to people behind the drapes before moving to the next. When she finishes, she returns to the center, stands in the middle of the fire circle, looks directly through the hole above, and spreads her arms wide.
Then she drops her arms, slapping her sides. She looks around, sees us, and says, “What is this place?”
Arikta answers her. “This is a Pawnee earth lodge, Rose. It was my family’s home.”
She says, “You have a nice family, Arikta.”
Rose turns to face the exit and walks through it, returning the way she came, along Cottonwood Creek. It seems like she has forgotten that we are following her. Arikta and I look at one another, shrug, and follow Rose into camp.

David Fitz-Gerald writes westerns and historical fiction. He is the author of twelve books, including the brand-new series, Ghosts Along the Oregon Trail set in 1850. Dave is a multiple Laramie Award, first place, best in category winner; a Blue Ribbon Chanticleerian; a member of Western Writers of America; and a member of the Historical Novel Society.
Alpine landscapes and flashy horses always catch Dave’s eye and turn his head. He is also an Adirondack 46-er, which means that he has hiked to the summit of the range’s highest peaks. As a mountaineer, he’s happiest at an elevation of over four thousand feet above sea level.
Dave is a lifelong fan of western fiction, landscapes, movies, and music. It should be no surprise that Dave delights in placing memorable characters on treacherous trails, mountain tops, and on the backs of wild horses.
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