Lesson 1: An English Boy Among the American Indians

Week: 1

The European settlers did not have enough food, so they sent some of the people, including a boy named Henry Spelman, to live among the American Indians. Spelman survived brushes with starvation and plots against him to become a translator who brokered trade deals between the settlers and the Indians. Along the way, he learned to make tools like the Indians, such as beaver tooth knives, canoes, and arrows made from cane, deer hooves, and stone pieces.

Lesson 2: The Making of a Canoe

Week: 2

Henry Spelman's Powhatan friend, Keketaw, showed him how to make a canoe without a hatchet, an ax, an adz, or even a knife. They traveled twenty miles into the deep woods to find a tree out of which to make a canoe. The boys had to make their own tools to catch fish and game and make fire for cooking while constructing their canoe. They downed a great tree by lighting a fire around its base. They lit small fires across the top of the fallen tree and scraped the burned wood with shells to hollow out the canoe. After the boys finished their canoe, they hunted deer in the forest. Instead of finding deer, the boys found tracks of enemy Indians called the Monacans. Henry Spelman and Keketaw hurried to warn their village of the nearby Monacans. The Monocans found the boys' fire and figuring they'd been discovered by the Powhatans, hurried away to avoid conflict.

Lesson 3: Some Things About Indian Corn

Week: 3

Indian corn was the most important plant food to the American Indians. To grow corn, the Indians first cleared the land of trees or killed the trees to allow sunlight to pass through the branches. Indian women dug at the soil with deer shoulder blades and turtle shells, planted corn kernels in the loose soil, and covered the kernels with soil. The Indians then added fish to the mounds of soil to help the corn grow. The Indians loved green corn roasted in fires. They also dried corn and ground it to make hominy, which could be eaten when mixed with a little water. Some of the first European settlers found buried baskets of Indian corn, which saved them from starving. An Indian named Squanto eventually taught them how to grow their own corn.

Lesson 4: The Coming of Tea and Coffee

Week: 4

The early settlers in America drank beverages such as root beer, birch beer, cider, and a drink flavored with hickory chips. Country people made drinks from sassafras tree and wild vines. Around fifty years after the first settlers arrived, tea and coffee arrived in England. Tea became very fashionable and was called 'The China Drink.' People drank tea using fancy teacups and saucers called chinaware, but some did not know how to drink tea. For example, two girls snuck some of their father's tea. They boiled the tea leaves in water, threw the water away, and served the leaves on plates, which they attempted to eat. When people came to visit and tea was served, it was custom to keep the guests' tea cups filled. Some people did not know how to signal they were done drinking tea by placing their spoon across the top and ended up drinking far more tea then they wanted.

Lesson 5: Kidnapped Boys

Week: 5

In the early days of the United States of America, some European settlers traveled to America as indentured servants. Ship captains transported indentured servants to America in exchange for being able to sell the services of indentured servants for a set period. Men and women typically had to work for four years without pay in exchange for their passage. Girls and boys had to work even longer. Indentured servants were often treated cruelly by their masters. This lesson relates the tales of two kidnapped boys who were wrongly sold into servitude. Both served their time and went on to become successful in America.

Lesson 6: Little Lord Sold into Servitude

Week: 6

Little Lord James Annesley's evil uncle swindled him out of his inheritance and sent him from Ireland to Philadelphia to work as an indentured servant. In America, James' master was an evil man who mistreated him. When James ran away, he was put in prison. He served thirteen years of servitude before gaining his freedom. Some kind people helped James return to England and take his evil uncle to court. James won his inheritance back in court, but it was too late. He died before he regained possession of his title and land.

Lesson 7: The Last Battle of Blackbeard

Week: 7

Blackbeard was a cruel pirate, so fiendish he would kill his own men to intimidate the others. Blackbeard grew a long black beard. Blackbeard divided his beard into sections, twisted the sections, and tied the sections with ribbons. Blackbeard and his men plundered ships off the coast of North Carolina. The governor of North Carolina was in cahoots with Blackbeard and did not stop him. The people appealed to the governor of Virginia, who sent Lieutenant Maynard and his men to stop the dreaded pirate. Lieutenant Maynard and his men killed Blackbeard and defeated the pirate crew.

Lesson 8: An Old Philadelphia School

Week: 8

Philadelphia schoolmaster, Mr. Dove, did not beat his students as was the fashion in colonial times. Instead, Dove reprimanded students by using his cleverness and wit and shaming those who misbehaved. If a student was late for class, Dove sent a student gang with a lantern and a bell to fetch the tardy student. The gang of students paraded the tardy student through the streets, holding the lantern to 'light the way' and ringing the bell. One day, Dove was late to class. His students paraded their schoolmaster through the streets, holding the lantern and ringing the bell. Dove commended his students for doing the right thing.

Lesson 9: A Dutch Family in the Revolution

Week: 9

One Dutch-American family fled from their house in New York during the American Revolutionary War between the British and the Americans. The fighting was headed their way. The family packed up their valuables and escaped to their cousin's home, outside of where the fighting would occur. While the family was gone, their house was burned to the ground. After the British defeated the American soldiers and the fighting stopped, the family began to rebuild their home. They had a little money to buy wood, but not enough money to buy nails. Nails were very expensive, because each nail was individually hammered into being by a blacksmith. To procure nails, the family's daughters sifted through the ashes of their old home for old, crooked nails. The British allowed their American soldier captives to wander the town, and the American soldiers helped the daughters find and straighten nails. When British soldiers tried to steal the Dutch family's chickens, one daughter and one slave scared the soldiers off with a gun to save their chickens. The Americans hid their valuables from the British soldiers in places such as under fireplace hearths and in a pincushion.

Lesson 10: A School of Long Ago

Week: 10

Three hundred years ago, Christopher Dock was known as 'The Good Schoolmaster.' Rather than beating his students to keep them in line, he emphasized praise, positive peer-pressure, and parental involvement. When Dock's students learned their ABCs, Dock asked their parents to give them a penny and two eggs. Back then, two eggs were a wonderful feast for boys and girls, as most had nothing but bread to eat for breakfast. Dock would give decorated tickets to children when they learned to read, but take them away if they misbehaved. If children could not read their passage perfectly, they were called, 'The Lazy Scholar,' and the other children would help 'The Lazy Scholar' perfect their reading. Dock would mark Os in chalk on the hands of children who made no mistakes in their lessons, so their parents would know they had done a good job at school. Dock wrote a book which outlined 100 rules for good behavior, including, 'Do not wabble with your stool,' and 'Do not eat your morning bread on the road or in school.' When Dock died, he was found kneeling in his schoolhouse, still praying for his students.

Lesson 11: Stories of Whaling

Week: 11

When settlers on Long Island found whales beached on the shore, they boiled blubber, or whale fat, to make oil. Whale oil was burned in lamps for light. Some people hunted whales in boats called whalers and made lots of money selling whale oil. Sailors on whaling ships sailed on long voyages and were often away for years. Whaling ships sometimes had strange accidents. One ship ran into a whale and sank, and the sailors escaped in lifeboats. Another ship was attacked by a whale. Some of those sailors perished, but others were found by other ships and made it back home.

Lesson 12: A Whaling Song

Week: 12

This lesson contains a song sung by Cape Cod whalers, describing how they hunt 'the monsters of the deep.'

Lesson 13: A Strange Escape

Week: 13

When the Frenchmen staying with the Onondaga Indians learned the Indians planned to kill them, they began building boats in secret. Upon completion of the boats, the Frenchmen threw a feast, where by custom, their Indian guests were compelled to eat as long as food was put in front of them. The Frenchmen fed the Indians late into the night, until all the Indians fell asleep. As the Indians slept, the Frenchmen grabbed their boats and escaped, paddling from New York to Montreal. When the Onondaga Indians discovered the Frenchmen missing, they were afraid, thinking the Frenchmen had become invisible, had flown through the air, or had walked on water.

Lesson 14: Grandmother Bear

Week: 14

Mr. Alexander Henry, who was captured by and living with Ojibwa Indians near Lake Superior, spotted evidence that a bear had hibernated in an enormous tree. Henry and the Ojibwas spent days chopping at tree. After the tree fell, they killed the bear and carried home the fat and meat. To appease the spirit of the bear, who they called 'Grandmother Bear,' the Ojibwas made offerings to the bear's head and held a great celebration.

Lesson 15: The Great Turtle

Week: 15

Mr. Alexander Henry, who was living with Ojibwa Indians near Lake Superior, observed an Indian medicine man who claimed to be talking with the Great Turtle, which is one of the gods the Ojibwa Indians believed in. The Ojibwas heard an English army was coming to do battle. They set up a wigwam with a little tent made from moose skins inside. The Indians sat in the wigwam, and the medicine man climbed into the smaller tent. The Ojibwas heard many voices, including one that said it was the spirit of the Great Turtle. The voice claiming to be the Great Turtle told the medicine man to send Indian men to meet with the general of the English army, to make peace with them, and to trade with them. The next day, the Ojibwas sent a group of men, including Mr. Henry, on a journey to meet with the English general.

Lesson 16: Grandfather Rattlesnake

Week: 16

Mr. Alexander Henry, who was captured by the Ojibwa Indians near Lake Superior, was traveling with the Ojibwas to Fort Niagara to meet with the general of the English army, to make peace with them, and to trade with them. On the journey, Mr. Henry encountered a rattlesnake and grabbed his gun to shoot it. The Ojibwas stopped Mr. Henry, called the snake 'Grandfather,' blew tobacco smoke on the rattlesnake, and asked for its forgiveness for Mr. Henry's insulting behavior. Later, as they crossed Lake Huron, the wind and waves picked up and the Ojibwas feared for their lives. They prayed to Grandfather Rattlesnake and threw tobacco in the water to appease him. The Ojibwas even debated whether to throw Mr. Henry in the water after the tobacco. But they made it through the storm to Fort Niagara, and the English general was very happy to see Mr. Henry. Mr. Henry was free at last.

Lesson 17: A Story of Niagara

Week: 17

Two American Indians fell asleep in a canoe tied upriver from Niagara Falls. The canoe came loose and floated down the river. The roar of the falls woke one of the Indians. They managed to land their canoe on a little island in the middle of the falls, where the water flows over the cliff. Although the Indians were alive, they were trapped on the little island. To escape, the Indians made a ladder from tree bark. They used the ladder to descend to some rocks at the bottom of the falls. The Indians tried to swim to shore, but the current kept throwing them back on the rocks. Eventually, they gave up and climbed back up to the island. The Indians were finally rescued by their friends, who used metal poles to support themselves and wade to the island. The two Indians used the poles to wade back to the shore.

Lesson 18: Among the Alligators

Week: 18

In a quest to study the plants and animals of the South, botanist William Bartram canoed up the St. Johns River in Florida. He saw alligators fighting, snapping their sharp teeth, and roaring. The alligators attacked him in his boat, but he got away. When he caught fish for supper, alligators came after the fish. Bartram shot one alligator and beat off another, defending himself and his supper.

Lesson 19: A Brave Girl

Week: 19

Brave Mary Anne Gibbes crossed a battlefield thick with flying cannonballs to rescue her baby cousin. Both she and the baby made it to safety.

Lesson 20: A Prisoner among the Indians

Week: 20

Eighteen-year-old English boy James Smith was kidnapped by American Indians and taken from Pennsylvania to Ohio. The Indians adopted James and gave him the Indian name of Scouwa. Scouwa became lost in a snowstorm and saved himself by sheltering overnight in a hollow tree. He navigated his way back to the Indian camp by knowing that moss grows on the north or northwest side of trees. The Indians were very happy to see him and built a fire so he could tell his tale of survival fireside. After hearing Scouwa's tale, the Indians bought him a gun, saying Scouwa had become a man.

Lesson 21: Hungry Times in the Woods

Week: 21

Scouwa was at a winter camp with an old, bedridden American Indian and the Indian's young son. Every day, Scouwa went out hunting deer and other animals for food. When winter came, Scouwa was unable to kill any more deer, because the sound of his feet crunching through the ice scared the animals away. Scouwa, the bedridden Indian, and the little boy were close to starvation. The old Indian had faith that their Great Spirit would provide for them, but James wasn't so sure. James knew the old Indian and little boy would probably starve without his help, but James decided to sneak away to a European settlement and save himself. As he snuck away, he came upon some buffaloes and shot one. Scouwa abandoned his escape plan and brought the meat back to the bedridden Indian and the little boy. As he went for more buffalo meat, he saw a tree with a bear in it, smoked the bear out, and shot the bear. Aided by the buffalo and bear meat, Scouwa, the old Indian, and the boy survived the winter.

Lesson 22: Scouwa Becomes an Englishman Again

Week: 22

After his long, hard winter, Englishman James Smith, or Scouwa, traveled with the American Indians to Canada. Canada was controlled by the French, and the French were at war with the English. Scouwa learned that some English prisoners were being transported by the French back to English settlements. James snuck in among the English prisoners and was reunited with his countrymen. Once again, James dressed and spoke as an Englishman. He became a colonel of the Pennsylvania militia, moved to Kentucky, and fought against the American Indians.

Lesson 23: A Baby Lost in the Woods

Week: 23

Benjamin Craig traveled with his family from Virginia to Kentucky in 1781. After camping overnight and leaving the next morning, the family realized they forgot their baby boy at the camp. The family worried that fierce wolves, great panthers, or hungry wildcats had eaten the helpless baby. Benjamin Craig galloped back down the trail and rescued the baby. Not only was the baby not worried about being left alone, he hadn't even woken.

Lesson 24: The River Pirates

Week: 24

Two hundred years ago, pirates robbed boats traversing the rivers in the wilderness interior of America. Pirates hid their boats in the mouths of streams flowing to the rivers, overran the boats, and stole the goods. Mr. Beausoleil and a crew took a barge up the Mississippi River from New Orleans. Just as a band of pirates was about to descend upon them, the wind picked up and their barge outran the pirates. Undaunted, the pirates hurried overland and captured Mr. Beausoleil and his crew farther upstream. The barge cook, a slave named Cacasotte, outsmarted the pirates and returned the barge and its goods to Mr. Beausoleil.

Lesson 25: A Boy's Foolish Adventure

Week: 25

The Natural Bridge is a landmark in the state of Virginia. It crosses one hundred and seventy-five feet over the bottom of a ravine. It is said that George Washington, the first President of the United States, threw a coin from the bottom of the ravine and hit the bridge. There are people's names scratched all over the rocks at the bottom of the ravine. There are two names particularly high up on the rocks. The second highest signature is said to be that of George Washington. The highest is said to be from a foolhardy boy named Pepper. Pepper climbed up, scratched his name in the rock, but couldn't get back down. He was up so high, if he fell, he would have died. Without a choice, Pepper continued to climb up. Eventually, he climbed high enough to catch a rope noose dangled from above, and he was saved. Years later, as an accomplished Colonel, Pepper still did not like to talk about his climb up the Natural Bridge.

Lesson 26: A Foot Race for Life

Week: 26

In 1803, John Colter, a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition turned trapper, was captured by the Blackfoot Indians. The Indians turned him loose to hunt him and let him run for his life. Colter was a fast runner and evaded the Indians by hiding under a pile of driftwood in a river. Colter had to walk barefoot over great distances to reach a trading house. Colter told stories of the hot springs and great geysers he had passed, but no one believed him until the area we now called Yellowstone Park was discovered by others.

Lesson 27: Loretto and his Wife

Week: 27

European trapper Loretto fell in love with a Blackfoot Indian woman who had been captured and made a slave by the Crow Indians. Loretto bought the Blackfoot woman from the Crow Indians and made her his wife. Loretto and his wife made a life together and had a baby. When the European trappers engaged in a skirmish with the Blackfeet, Loretto's wife and baby were carried away by her tribe. Rather than live without his wife and child, Loretto risked his life to live with his wife in a Blackfoot village.

Lesson 28: A Blackfoot Story

Week: 28

A group of Blackfoot Indians became trapped on a mountain ledge. There was no way back up the mountain. The ledge was too high up to jump down. The Indians thought they would starve to death. The Indian Chief decided he would rather die bravely and quickly by jumping off the ledge than slowly starving to death. He sang his death song and jumped. One by one, the Indians jumped, until two boys were left. The older boy threw the younger boy off and then jumped. He landed in a deep drift of snow. All his people were alive at the bottom. The deep snow saved them all.

Lesson 29: How Fremont Crossed the Mountains

Week: 29

Captain Fremont and his fellow explorers made a harrowing winter journey over the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. The snow was very deep, and there was little to eat for the men and their animals. Many of their horses and mules grew too weak to travel and were eaten by the starving men. But the explorers persisted and made it to the other side, to the beautiful Sacramento River.

Lesson 30: Finding Gold in California

Week: 30

When John Sutter built a sawmill in California, his carpenter, Marshall, discovered gold nuggets in a ditch they dug. At first, Sutter and Marshall were not sure if they had discovered real gold or Pyrite, fool's gold. After some tests, they learned it was real gold. They tried to keep the gold a secret, but word soon got out when one of the men digging gold bought whiskey using gold nuggets. Soon, the gold rush to California was on, making many men rich in the process.

Lesson 31: Descending the Grand Canyon

Week: 31

This lesson tells the tale of Major John Wesley Powell and his men, who made the first expedition down the Grand Canyon. Major Powell and his men traversed rapids and waterfalls to conquer the Colorado River and make it through the canyon.

Lesson 32: The Man that Draws the Handcart

Week: 32

This lesson tells the tale of George Northrup, who started out as a naive boy with a handcart and grew into an expert trapper and a sure shot. Through bravery and cleverness, he survived a conflict with the Yankton Indians, who wished to take his supplies and drive him from their lands.

Lesson 33: The Lazy, Lucky Indian

Week: 33

When he was younger, an American Indian in North Dakota had been lazy about hunting. Now he had old, ragged clothing and only a wretched teepee to live in. He could not afford ponies to go hunting buffalo on the Great Plains with the other Indians. When his tribe left on a hunt, a herd of buffalo came to the nearby shore of a frozen lake. The lazy, lucky Indian and his wife drove a group of buffalo onto the ice. The buffalo slipped on the ice and could not walk. The Indian and his wife killed the buffalo and became the richest people of the tribe. They bought ponies, so they could hunt in the future and avoid being poor again.

Lesson 34: Peter Petersen - A Story of the Dakota War of 1862

Week: 34

Treaty violations by the United States government sparked a Dakota Indian uprising against settlers in Minnesota. A five-year-old boy named Peter Petersen was captured by the Dakota after they killed his father. The Dakota Indians were cruel to Peter and did not feed, clothe, or shelter him. Peter was rescued from the Dakota Indians by European-American soldiers, who made him a little uniform and took him to Winona. Due to Peter speaking Norwegian, he was taken to a Norwegian hotel, where he was reunited with his sister.

Lesson 35: The Greatest of Telescope Makers

Week: 35

Artist, engraver, and marksman Alvan Clark found a way of making larger and more powerful telescopes. There are two types of telescopes: reflecting which uses mirrors and refracting which uses lenses. Mr. Clark's son, George, melted down a broken brass dinner bell to create a reflecting telescope. Mr. Clark studied about telescopes and helped his son build a little telescope. Mr. Clark continued to build larger telescopes, but reflecting telescopes are not very good, so he decided to make a refracting telescope with lenses. He worked on making better and larger lenses, until he made the best lenses in the world. He was paid to make the largest telescope in the world, through which he and his son discovered a satellite circling the star of Sirius.

Lesson 36: Adventures in Alaska

Week: 36

Lieutenant Henry T. Allen was tasked to find a path from the Copper River Valley over the mountains to the Yukon River Valley in Alaska. Other explorers had tried in the past and declared it impossible. Lieutenant Allan and his explorers faced hunger and exhaustion on their adventure, but with nourishment from catching rabbits and spawning salmon, successfully traversed the icy Alaskan mountains to the Yukon River.