One Came Home
Written by Amy Timberlake
In the town of Placid, Wisconsin, in 1871, Georgie Burkhardt is known for two things: her uncanny aim with a rifle and her habit of speaking her mind plainly.
But when Georgie blurts out something she shouldn’t, her older sister Agatha flees, running off with a pack of “pigeoners” trailing the passenger pigeon migration. And when the sheriff returns to town with an unidentifiable body–wearing Agatha’s blue-green ball gown–everyone assumes the worst. Except Georgie. Refusing to believe the facts that are laid down (and coffined) before her, Georgie sets out on a journey to find her sister. She will track every last clue and shred of evidence to bring Agatha home. Yet even with resolute determination and her trusty Springfield single-shot, Georgie is not prepared for what she faces on the western frontier.
Primary Source Pairing:
Georgie sets out on a fact-finding mission of epic proportions in this Wild West story. 1871 Wisconsin becomes a character in and of itself in this book as Georgie and Billy McCabe traverse the landscape to see what they can discover about Agatha’s disappearance. The opportunities for primary source pairings with this book are thicker than the mosquitoes in the Wisconsin valleys.
Invite students to study any of the following:
Another primary source pairing opportunity includes taking a close look and a slow view at a Railroad and Post Office Map of Minnesota and Wisconsin published in 1871 when this story takes place. What places on the map look familiar from the book? Print the map on a large piece of paper or link to the map so students can view it digitally.
Questions for Discussion:
- Describe what you see.
- What do you notice first?
- What size and shape is the map?
- What graphical elements do you see?
- What on the map looks strange or unfamiliar?
- Describe anything that looks like it does not belong on a map.
- What place or places does the map show?
- What, if any, words do you see?
- Why do you think this map was made?
- How do you think this map was made?
- Who do you think the audience was for this map?
- How does it compare to current maps of this place?
- What does this map tell you about what the people who made it knew and what they didn’t?
- If this map was made today, what would be different? What would be the same?
Book Cover and Summary: Follett
Railroad and Post Office Map of Minnesota and Wisconsin: Library of Congress
Additional Primary Source Pairings:
Bechtler Dollars: http://goldfever.unctv.org/bechtler
Chicago Fire of 1871: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-080726-chicago-fire-photogallery-photogallery.html
Passenger Pigeons: https://www.si.edu/spotlight/passenger-pigeon
The Prairie Traveler by Randolph B. Marcy: https://archive.org/details/prairietravelerh01marc