The Into the West Saga is a cliffhanger novella serial. It is designed to be quick entertaining reads for busy people. Each part of the Into the West Saga Serial builds on the part before it. Due to the nature of this serial, my mother thought it would be helpful to add brief recaps in the front of my books outlining the highlights from previous instalments for those who might accidentally begin this serial out of order. This also refreshes the memory of my loyal readers since I have not been publishing these as fast as I had hoped. This addition solved a problem I was having while writing part four Into the West: Most Wanted.
The following recaps are major spoilers for previous books so if you want to go back and read the books without prior knowledge of the stories, stop reading now.
Either way, I hope these help.
Part One Recap
Into the West: The Orphan Train
Conner and Margret MacBride migrated to New York City from Ireland in hopes
of building a new life for themselves. They both found work which allowed them
to have a modest apartment and start their family. Margret had just given birth
to their second a child, a boy, when tragedy struck. Conner died of pneumonia
just one month after his namesake, Conner Junior, was born.
Margret tried for years to support herself and her children but with no family in
the Americas to help her, she soon lost the apartment due to back rent. She and
her children, Elizabeth and Conner Jr., were able to put together a makeshift tent
in the shanty town. Margret tried her best to care for her children but after a few
years of watching her them go to bed hungry most nights, she made the hardest
decision of her life, to turn her children over to the care of the foundling home run
by her church. Little did Margret know, what new trials awaited her children.
Elizabeth and Conner had never spent a night apart since Conner Jr.’s birth. The first night in the foundling home, the children were sent to separate dorms. While Conner seemed to make friends easily enough from the first night, Elizabeth was not so lucky.
Sonya Busby was the bully of the foundling home. Elizabeth accidentally became the new target of Sonya’s anger. Sonya offered her friendship to Elizabeth at first but only if she agreed to shun one of their roommates, Carrie Adams. Elizabeth's refusal infuriated Sonya. She had managed to bully everyone else in the girls' into this arrangement, she was not used to being denied. Later that night, Elizabeth snuck out of her room to find Conner and was caught by Sister Mary Clare. The nun punished Elizabeth for being out of her room after curfew, leaving her marked and in pain for days. From that night on, Sister Mary Clare kept a watchful eye on Elizabeth's every move, believing the girl needed to be made contrite. The sister was determined save her soul by any means she felt necessary.
Luckily for Elizabeth, she made two steadfast and loyal friends, Carrie Adams and her case worker, Mrs. Kelly. Mrs. Kelly did not normally build relationships with the foundlings in her care. Her job was to move them through the system as quickly as possible, but something about Elizabeth was different. Mrs. Kelly found herself drawn to the child and went out of her way to help and protect her, even putting her own job in jeopardy.
When Mrs. Kelly noticed the negative attention Elizabeth was getting from Sister Mary Clare, she schemed to get her and her brother on the orphan train with her and the other foundlings heading into the west to find new homes. With the help of Ian Somerholder, another foundling in her care, Mrs. Kelly manages to get Elizabeth and Conner onto the orphan train undetected, or so she thinks. As Mrs. Kelly is about to board the train, she turns around to discover she is not the only one still on the platform.
Part Two Recap
Into the West: A New Home
When Mrs. Kelly turns around to board the orphan train, she comes face to
face with Sister Mary Clare. The woman asks Mrs. Kelly to sit and talk with
her. As the women bare their souls to each other, they find out they are not
as different as they had thought. In their own ways, they want what is best
for all of the foundlings.
The women strike a bargain, Mrs. Kelly may keep Elizabeth and Conner on
the orphan train with her if she agrees to Sister Mary Clare’s terms. While it
breaks her heart to do it, Mrs. Kelly agrees and puts her job on the line to try
to find the children a new home in the west.
The trip west is fraught with more confrontations between Elizabeth and Sonya.
As Sonya's mental state becomes more erratic, she begins to lash out at more
and more people. Her behavior causes Mrs. Kelly to seek help from the case
workers from the foundling hospital who are escorting their own charges on the orphan train. Mrs. Kelly turns her guardianship of Sonya over to the nurses from the founding hospital in hopes they will be able to help the girl. Unfortunately Sonya does not see this change as a good thing, but just another adult abandoning her. After watching her friends being adopted off the train as she is continually overlooked, Sonya’s emotional state deteriorates even further.
Platte City, Missouri was the last planned stop for the orphan train. After meeting with the citizens there, there were just a handful of foundlings left unclaimed, Elizabeth and Conner were among them. As the case workers all sat discussing how sad it was to have to take any of the children back to the New York City, a stranger offers them an option.
The telegraph operator, Pearl Stanley, told the caseworkers the train tracks to a town in the Kansas Territory had just opened up and the first supply train was headed there in a few days time. It would be possible to hitch one of the passenger cars from the orphan train to the supply train and make one last stop in Sharon Springs. As the caseworkers plan for this final trip, Sonya terrorizes yet another girl. In a showdown at the train station, the caseworkers come together to protect their charges and prevent Sonya from becoming a serious danger to others or herself.
The last few foundlings arrive safely in Sharon Springs accompanied by Mrs. Kelly, Miss West from the foundling hospital and Ian Somerholder. While Ian was adopted by a doctor and is wife in Platt City, MO, he asked to accompany the group to Sharon Springs. Since Mrs. Kelly asked him in New York City to look out for Elizabeth, Conner and a few other children, he has felt responsible for them and wanted to see them all get adopted into homes. He strikes a deal with his new parents and Mrs. Kelly. They will allow him to travel to Sharon Springs if he helps out Doc Pete, a friend of his father's, in his medical practice while he is there. He also had to promise Mrs. Kelly that no matter what happened with the MacBride children in Sharon Springs, Ian would accompany her on the return trip and go back to his new family in Platte City. Ian reluctantly agreed. With the help of Mrs. Kelly and Ian, Elizabeth and Conner travel to Sharon Springs and their last chance to find a new home.
Part Two Recap
Into the West: A New Home - Special Edition
This book contains the exact same content as the regular edition of Into the
West: A New Home but also has the full text of Into the West: The Orphan
Train in the one volume.
Part Three Recap
Into the West: Sharon Springs
The people of Sharon Springs have been planning their annual Founders'
Day celebration when word comes that a train carrying foundlings in need
of homes will be stopping in their town. After the children arrive, the
townsfolk gather for their normal church services after which they meet the
children. All the foundlings are spoken for except for Elizabeth and Conner.
Tim Ruth steps forward and makes a plea to adopt Elizabeth but fears that
bringing another boy into their home would not sit too well with his son. The
family lost their daughter in a tragic accident years before and he feels
Elizabeth could be just the new addition his family needs to really heal from
Mrs. Kelly thinks Elizabeth would do well with the Ruth family but unless she
can find a home in town for Conner, she is not willing to take him back to
New York City and leave Elizabeth in the Kansas Territory on her own.
Separating the children into different homes in the same town is one thing but
different parts of the country is something she was not willing to do.
Tim’s friend, Doc Pete, and his wife had decided due to their age not to adopt any of the children from the orphan train even though, like Tim, they had lost their own child to smallpox years before. However, when they see Conner MacBride, he looks so much like their son, they begin to question their decision. When Doc Pete sees how much his best friend wants to adopt Elizabeth, he makes up his mind to take on the care of Conner to keep the children together and try to help both families heal from their loses.
The two families have shared a close bond since before coming to Sharon Springs and assure Mrs. Kelly this new connection will only bring them all closer. Mrs. Kelly feels this is the best option she will be able to find for Elizabeth and Conner and agrees to the arrangement. She and the children return to Doc Pete’s house to finalize the paperwork with their new families. The most difficult part was how to tell the children.
Ian Somerholder overhears the arrangement and passionately protests the children’s separation. After talking with Mrs. Kelly, he understands her reasons and volunteers to help the children get settled in their new homes.
Mrs. Kelly decides it would be better to not explain the details to Conner just yet, given his young age. Knowing the children would be seeing each other again soon, and often, She has Elizabeth leave without having a big goodbye scene. Mrs. Kelly carries Elizabeth to Tim Ruth’s wagon and says her own final goodbyes to the girl she has come to love so much. When she is done, a brokenhearted Mrs. Kelly gather’s her belongings and moves into a room at the Saloon to wait for the train to be ready to return to Platte City, Missouri.
Tim and Elizabeth leave and make their way back to his ranch. His wife is furious to learn he decided to adopt a girl against her wishes. Stacy Ruth is still grieving the loss of the daughter and does not want to open her heart to anyone else for fear of the pain that might come with another child she could potentially lose. With Tim determined to make Elizabeth part of their family, everyone in the family is on edge except for Timothy, their son. While he is slightly curious about Elizabeth’s presence in their home, Timothy does not seem too concerned with her, at first.
As everyone is spending their first day getting settled into Sharon Springs, an imposing man rides into town. his first stop is the saloon where he meets up with his friend, Ike Rowlett, sheriff of Sharon Springs. Ike introduces the stranger to Patrick Gordon, the saloon owner. Patrick is taken-aback as he knows the man by reputation. His name is Marshal Blackjack James and he’s come to town on the trail of bandits.
Patrick excuses himself after meeting the marshal and the quick departure makes marshal James suspicious. He moves to intercept Patrick as starts to slip out the backdoor of the saloon. The two men face off in what promises to be a tense confrontation.
Part Four Recap
Into the West: Most Wanted
Famous U.S. marshal, Blackjack James, heads to Sharon Springs to help his
friend, Sheriff Ike "Shorty" Rowlett. Bandits have been robbing tax men in
the territory and the local government wants them stopped! Together the
lawmen hope they can catch the thieves before Sheriff Jones from Missouri
decides to cross the boarder and try for the bounty himself.
While lawmen try to solve their case, the families who adopted Elizabeth and
Conner MacBride are finding their first few days together are filled with many
uneasy moments as the children try to come to grips with their new reality.
After a very unpleasant encounter with her new brother, Elizabeth longs to be
with Conner again. As she begins to feel more and more unwelcome in her
new home, she decides to set out on her own in the middle of the night to find
her brother but finds trouble instead.
As the search for the bandits continues, more than one townsperson tries to figure out the mystery for themselves. Could the most wanted bandits in the Kansas Territory be hiding out near Sharon Springs or could they have been in the town all along?
and this brings us to where we are now in our story.
Part Five Recap - TBA
Into the West: Family Ties