Sarah's Web

Enter The 19th Century World Of Sarah And Her Friends

Sarah's Escape


            Inside, Sarah saw him, and her heart skipped a beat. It felt like a giant hand squeezing the very breath from her. Then, color drained from her face and panic came—cold and sudden. Standing speechless, a terrible fear tore at her throat, and for a split second she thought of the will. Only Sam knew the hiding place.

            “Sam!” Eliza screamed. “Oh, Sam, Oh, my dear Sam.” She knelt beside her husband, head on his chest, weeping uncontrollably. Sarah rushed to Eliza’s side as Esther flew through the doorway. Seeing her daddy on the floor staggered her, sending her reeling. Her knees buckled, and falling to the floor, she began to pray aloud.

            “What in tarnation be happenin’ in here?”

            The old lady stepped through the doorway. The sight of Sam on the floor, eyes open, unmoving, gripped her insides. Rushing to his side, Granny placed her hand on the front of his neck, feeling for a pulse. She shouted over the crying, “What happened to him?” The bawling only grew louder.

            “Eliza Smith! Git a hold of yerself. Let me try to help the man. What happened afore we got here?”

            “He complained of a headache, and his vision was blurred,” she sobbed it out. “Esther was going to get Doctor Baum, and then he just fell over. Is he dead? Is he dead? Tell me, Granny, tell me the truth.”

            Granny clutched her friend’s hand. “No! He be alive, barely. His heart’s a beatin’ but weak. Not much breath, either.”

            “What can we do? What’s wrong with him?”  

            “I seen it afore, and I’ll not lie to ya. It ain’t good.” Her body stiffened a little, and she turned squarely to face Eliza. “Appears like he be brain struck!”


Home Page

Sarah's Wish

The Accident

    It all seemed to have happened in one of those slow-motion moments. Actually, the horse heard it first-the rattle sound. The sound that leaves goose bumps on a big man’s neck. By the time the girl caught eye of it, Blackie had instinctively shied to the right.


   “Snake!” Rachel pointed at the coiled serpent, its mouth gaping, fangs laid bare.


   Blackie bolted. The sudden jerk slammed Rachel against the seat, wrenching the reins from her hands. Immediately she reached for twelve-year-old Sarah. Careening wildly along the narrow lane they furiously clutched at the buggy seat.


   “Blackie!” Rachel screamed. “Whoa! Whoa, Blackie!”


   The frightened horse raced on at full gallop while the reins dragged the ground. Mother and daughter tightened their grip and waited for Blackie to run himself out.


   “Blackie!” Sarah screamed. “Stop, Blackie! Oh, please! Stop! Mama, I’m scared!”


   Rachel shrieked louder, “Whoa!”


   The lane curved sharply right, but the frantic horse dashed straight on. Ten feet into a meadow the buggy struck the outcroppings of a stump and shot Rachel down the seat smashing into Sarah. Flipping onto its side the buggy slammed the ground, digging in. Dirt and grass flew in all directions. Breaking loose from the splintered buggy, Blackie made a blue streak through the wild flowers and disappeared into the woods.


   The dust settled-silence.


Home Page

Sarah's Promise


   Before the sun peeked over the horizon, while the morning star still shimmered in the western sky, they attacked. The earth shook under the pounding hooves as two riders whipped their horses furiously, pushing them to the limit. Out of the dim eastern horizon they raced across the field, swiftly closing in on Sam and Eliza. Slowly, the Negroes turned to the sound and squinted into the first gray light of dawn. Graybeard jammed his boot into Eliza’s side, the blunt force slamming her to ground. She groaned pitifully. Then, holding her side, she curled into a ball. Finally, after catching her breath, she screamed for her husband. Sam started for his fallen wife, but never made it. Tall Man pistol-whipped him, opening a bloody gash on the black man’s forehead. Crumpling into a heap, Sam lay dazed, eyes halfclosed. The brutal, hardhearted bounty hunters had the devil in their eyes. While gazing down at their terrible work those ice-cold eyes turned mean—real mean. Unhurried, they swung down from their snorting horses.

   “Joel, hold that boy!” Graybeard yelled. “I’ll grab his woman.”

   Sam groaned under Tall Man’s knee. The slave hunter had pinned him against the ground, shoving his gun against the Negro’s head just below the spot where blood trickled from the open wound. The dripping red disappeared into the earth.

   Eliza screamed in a choked terrible voice as Graybeard yanked her to her feet. Then, dragging her without mercy to where Sam lay gasping for air, the big, ugly-faced man with the pointy gray beard shoved her down. Instinctively she rolled next to her husband. Reaching over she pressed her hand to his wound; the bleeding stopped.

   Giving out a nasty laugh, Tall Man glared from greed-filled eyes and bragged with a hate-filled voice. “We’ve made our wages today. Can’t wait to git my hands on all that bounty money.”

   “Sir,” Sam gasped, struggling to raise his head. “You have the wrong folks.”

   “Shut up, boy!” Graybeard sneered. “We have you and that means money for us.”

   “But, we’re free Negroes, not slaves. My name is Sam Smith and this is Eliza Smith.”

   The slave hunter’s big frame blocked out the first rays of the morning sun and he stared back with dark eyes, cold as steel. “Don’t give me that, boy! Slaves don’t have last names,” the man lied. “Now, you shut your face or I’ll whip you good.”

   Holding up her work-hardened hands, the humble black woman clasped them together, pleading, “My name is Eliza! That’s Sam!” 

   “Look here, you ol’ slave mammy,” the tall man growled through his ugly, brown, tobacco stained teeth. “I as soon whip you as look at you. Sure ain’t gonna listen to yer lies.”

   Shaken by a terrible fear, Sam felt his throat tighten. Swallowing hard he gasped out, “I’m a free man! I’ve papers in my pocket to prove it. Sir, let me show you. Please! You have the wrong folks. We aren’t runaways. We’re free!”

   In a wave of hot anger Graybeard yelled hatefully, “Not now you’re not!”

Home Page

Click here to order Sarah's Web Newsletter. It comes by email and it's free! Unsubscribe anytime you want.   Enter "send newsletter" in the subject line. Thanks.


Sarah Ann Smith


The drawing above is Sarah as depicted by Ruth Rawlings of Augusta, Kansas. Ruth won the Draw Sarah Contest. This drawing appears in the third book of the Sarah series, Sarah's Escape. Congraulations Ruth!


The "Antebellum South" refers to the southern states before the Civil War. Latin was a language studied by many in the 19th Century, so people knew "ante" means before, and "bellum" means war.

Q:  "Was Sarah a real girl?"

A:  "Yes. She lived with my great, great grandparents, John and Elizabeth Baumgardner in Wapakoneta, Ohio.

In 1799 George Washington was very sick from a throat infection and died as a result of being bled excessively by his doctors.

In 1808 it became illegal to bring slaves to the United States.

Francis Scott Key wrote the STAR-SPANGLED BANNER in 1814.

Before the Civil War a person had more wealth if he owned slaves. Freeing the slaves meant giving up your property and doing the work yourself or hiring it done. Slave owners did not want to give up their wealth and then spend more money hiring folks to do the same work that had been done for free by slaves.

In Sarah's Wish Granny receives a telegram. In 1844 the first telegraph message was sent in Morse code.

The first official United States coin was minted in 1787.

Many people did not serve as conductors or agents on the Underground Railroad, but gave other support. Some made speeches saying slavery was wrong. Most runaways needed clothing, and many folks made new clothes for the slaves. For any slaves arriving sick, medicine was provided by the local medical doctor or sometimes an herb doctor like Granny Evans.

At various times in history, the White House has been known as the "President's Palace," the "President's House," and the "Executive Mansion." President Theodore Roosevelt officially gave the White House its current name in 1901.

The word “cowboy” refers to the boys (the average age of a cowboy was nineteen) who drove herds of longhorns from ranchland in Texas through Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) to the stockyards at Abilene, Wichita, Dodge City and other cowtowns. The trail drive took 60 to 120 days depending on how far south the cowboys were in Texas when they headed north, and the problems they encountered (stampedes, flooded rivers, Indian attacks). An average group of drovers consisted of one trail boss, eight cowboys, a wrangler to take care of the horses, and a cook. Most trail drives included black, Mexican, and sometimes Indian cowboys.

It has been estimated that at least 5,000 black men worked as cowboys on the cattle drives up the great trails of the Nineteenth Century. The Chisholm and Western were two of those trails.

The Post Office began to issue stamps in 1847.

Sarah's Wish is set in 1858. In that year the hand held can opener was patented by Ezra Warner. Also, home preserving jars were patented by Landis Mason.

"The man with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds." --Mark Twain

Mr. Balzer the apothecary is mentioned in Sarah's Wish; and Doctor Baum visits his shop in Sarah's Promise to purchase some patent medicines. The Shakers were the first to produce patent medicines, but it wasn't long before others began to produce these "wonderful" cure-alls, also. Patent Medicines were readily available at the drug stores throughout the 19th Century. Everything from baldness to cancer could be cured by drinking a liquid, swallowing a pill, or rubbing some liniment on the affected area. Many of the concoctions claimed to be effective for man or beast. Most were worthless.

There were many uses for herbs in Sarah's time and many are still used in the 21st Century. Granny Evans used herbs for "healing" folks, but there were recipes for beauty products, too. Face powder was made from rice flour, while rose and vanilla were popular fragrances for ladies to wear.