The Awakening Land (1978)

 

 

 

Director:     Boris Sagal. 

Starring:     Elizabeth Montgomery (Sayward Luckett Wheeler), Hal Holbrook (Portius Wheeler - The Solitary), Jane Seymour (Genny Luckett), Steven Keats (Jake Tench), Tony Mockus Jr. (Worth Luckett), William H. Macy (Will Beagle), Chelcie Ross (Billy Harbison), Dorrie Kavanaugh (Mistress Bartram), Derin Altay (Achsa Luckett), Bert Remsen (Isaac Barker), Charles Tyner (Reverend Hutchins), Sean Frye (Resolve Wheeler), Johnny Timko (Kinzie Wheeler), Barney McFadden (Louie Scurrah), Pia Romans (Huldah Wheeler), Sonja Lanzener (Annie McFall), Art Kassul (George Roebuck), Bernie Kuby (Mathias Cottle), Ann Eggert (Mary Harbison), Louis Plante (Zephon Brown), Sandra Wheeler (Cora Barker), Wally Engelhardt (Jim McFall), Olesley Cole (Moses), Timothy Carhart (First Peddler).

 early settlement in Ohio

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.

 

Part I.

The family moves west from Pennsylvania into Ohio land. Sayward Luckett is the eldest sibling. Her sister Genny is very pretty. Her other sisters are Achsa and little seven year old Sueli. Her mother Mam had caught the fever and was never the same again. Sayward's father is a big man with a coon-skin cap on his head. He always has wanderlust and keeps on moving farther west, against the wishes of his wife.

After crossing over the Ohio River, they ran into some Indians. The tallest Indian takes a real interest in the girls, especially Genny. Dad makes it clear that he is not going to give up Genny to him for anything.

There are human skulls hanging from one of the trees. They're primitive signs. If the travelers go right they will reach the Sandusky River and the English Lakes. If they go left they will keep to the woods. Mam wants to go to the area of the English Lakes. Pa wants to keep to the woods.

The family picks a spot in the woods and starts building a cabin. Mam tells Sayward that when she dies, she wants Sayward to hold the family together.

They finish the cabin and Mam is the first one to go in and check out the cabin interior.

One day Sueli goes off by herself. Achsa has to go over toward the river to find her sister. Sueli starts to get scared and starts running back home. She runs smack into a white man named Portius Wheeler. He starts spouting something poetic, Sueli gets scared and runs away toward home in a different direction.

Pa goes away for awhile to sell some furs at a trading post. Sueli goes out wandering again and finds the small cabin of Portius Wheeler. She starts to go inside but a clock strikes the hour and scares Sueli. She starts running back home but again walks smack into Portius.

Just then Sayward finds Sueli, the cabin and Mr. Wheeler. She takes Sueli home with her.

Pa reaches the trading post run by George Roebuck. Roebuck and his two assistants, Will Beagle and Jake Tench, are surprised to learn of the presence of another white man in the area. Pa tells Roebuck that he and his family have been in the area two to three months.

When Jake finds out that the new family has daughters, the idiot asks Pa if his daughters are of bleeding age? Pa slaps Jake across the face hard. He pulls out a knife and Pa grabs a pointed fire poker. Roebuck intervenes saying that Jake deserved that. He also tells Jake to get back to work.

Mam is very ill. The big Indian who wanted Genny suddenly bursts into the Luckett cabin. He goes and sits by the fire. Sayward takes some bread over to him to eat. The Indian smells the food, doesn't like it and tosses the bread into the fire. Sayward tells her sisters to get up in the loft.

The Indian now lays down in front of the fire and goes to sleep. Sayward sleeps near her mother with an axe between the two of them. Mam dies during the night.

Pa comes home. The Indian is still by the fireplace. He gets up and takes the axe from Sayward. He then feels her small arms. He just starts laughing at the idea of her trying to hit him with an axe. The Indian leaves.

Pa starts to speak to his wife, but Sayward has to tell him that she passed during the night. Pa says she was only 43 years old. The other sisters come down to grieve over their mother.

Pa is out hunting when he discovers a new family in the area. The new neighbor is Mathias Cottle who has his son Tom with him. His wife was struck by lightning and killed four years ago.

Mathias and Tom have dinner at the Luckett home. Mathias speaks about the "solitary", namely Portius Wheeler. He says some people say the man is a lawyer from Massachusetts. During dinner Mathias asks if Sayward is married? No. Mathias says he needs a woman to help him with all the work he has.

Sayward prefers that he meet a woman in town. Mathias says he already knows a woman in town: Mary Bradley. Sayward suggests he marry her.

Pa goes off to mind his traps. He will be gone for a few days.

Jake Tench makes a pass at Sayward and she tells him to keep his hands off her. He touches her breast and tries to force himself on her. She bites a piece of his ear off, grabs a rifle and tells Tench to get out.

A man named Angus Witherspoon comes to talk with Portius. He needs some help from a lawyer. He wants Portius to read a letter he has. Sayward is the one who brought Angus to see the lawyer, since none of the Lucketts could read.

Portius reads the leader. He tells Angus the sad story of what happened to his wife and four children. They were crossing the Ohio River on a raft when a storm came up and turned the raft over. His whole family died.

Sueli goes out walking alone by the river again. She has her pet skunk with her. An arrow hits the skunk and kills it. Sueli becomes very frightened.

Sueli's sisters come looking for her, but can't find her. A strange man approaches them and asks if he could help look for Sueli? The man's name is Louie Scurrah. The next day he comes to the house and brings a lot of his friends with him to search for the missing girl.

Louie organizes the search for the girl. A neighbor woman tells the interested Genny that Louie was brought up with the Delaware Indians. Genny says that Louie sure is handsome.

While the search is still on, Pa returns home. He asks what is the cause for all these people here at their home? Sayward tells him that Sueli is lost and the men are out searching for her.

Portius Wheeler comes to the house and asks Sayward if he can be of any assistance? She tells him that the men went that away. He runs after the men.

The men search through the day and into the night and into the next day. Louie returns to the cabin to tell the Luckett sisters that they had no luck in finding Sueli. Their Pa is still out there looking for Sueli. So Louie volunteers to keep the sisters in meat while their Pa is gone.

Sayward goes out for a walk in the woods and discovers Louie and Genny making love in the underbrush. She walks away from the couple.

When the couple return to the cabin Sayward asks them what day is the wedding day? Genny says she has no right to ask them such a thing. Sayward says she stumbled upon their "secret place" by chance. Louie says he is ready to marry Genny anytime. This makes Genny feel very happy. Up in the loft Achsa is quite jealous of Genny.

Sayward pays a visit to the trading post. There she runs into Portius again. Roebuck has a letter from Massachusetts for Portius, but he will not take the letter saying he has no interest in it whatsoever.

Genny and Louie are coming back from their trip downstream to get married. Sayward and Achsa run over to welcome the couple. Achsa starts getting closer with Louie.

The Luckett family goes to the celebration of the marriage of Mathias to Mary Bradley. There is music and dancing and a lot of socializing. Genny has a big bruise on her face and pretends that she fell over a stump.

Louie is hanging around Achsa way too much. The couple go to a secluded place. Louie and Achsa start kissing each other and then go down into the hay. Pa realizes that Louie and Achsa are missing and goes to look for them. Meanwhile, Genny dances with post assistant Will Beagle.

Louie leaves the secluded place. Pa comes into the stable and slaps Achsa across the face. He then leaves.

Portius offers a toast to those who are not here, but who are here. This refers to Ascha and Louie.

The men at the celebration set up some deviltry. They are going to capture Portius and see if Miss Idy will have him. One of the men tells Idy but she doesn't look very interested in Portius. The men put pressure on Idy and tell her to think on it. So, Idy says she will think on it.

Sayward stands up and tells the men and women that they can fetch Portius over to her cabin and she will marry with him. The men start searching for Portius. Pa asks Sayward if she is sure about this? Yes. Portius can provide her young ones with some education and that's important.

The men search for "solitary" while solitary tries to stay away from them. They catch him and bring him over to the Luckett cabin. Rev. Hutchins conducts the ceremony in the cabin. They both say yes and they are now man and wife.

The women push Sayward up into the loft. And now the men push Portius up into the loft. Portius starts to get wet feet and runs out of the cabin. The men chase after him. Pa now chases everyone out of the cabin, except Sayward.

Alone Sayward comes downstairs and puts some more wood on the fire. The men bring Portius back to the cabin. Sayward tells the men to let Portius go. They say he might run off and she says then let him go now, for she is not going to force him to stay.

The couple is awkward with each other, but soon enough they work things out.

In the morning they both start on improving their land. They hug each other and kiss.

 

Part II.

 

Portius receives a letter from his familysaying that his father is very ill and might die. Portius figures that his dad is dead by now. He tells Sayward that he regards his father as a hypocrite and a liar. Secretly he was a slave trader and that's how the Wheelers became wealthy.  He had a fight with his father, who hit him with a stick. Portius struck back and knocked his father down. That's when he left his family.

Sayward is pregnant.

Father returns home with a lot of fur pelts. He sees how the land around his home has been cut down. He doesn't like it. He starts feeling hemmed in again and wants to travel out to the Mississippi River.

One night Louie sneaks out of the house. He goes down to the river. Two mountain lions force Genny to stay in the cabin. Louie meets up with Achsa. They get into a canoe and head down river. Since Louie left Genny with no firewood, she has to start burning whatever she has available in the cabin. One of the big cats is thinking about coming down the chimney, so Genny has to build a big fire.

Sayward has received no news about Louie and Achsa who ran off. So Sayward and Portius walk over to Genny's cabin. They have to bust the door in. There's Genny sitting in a corner with a shawl around her shoulders and a dirty face. She doesn't even recognize her sister. Genny talks about the mountain lions.

Sayward tells her sister she is going to stay with them for awhile. Genny says she has to stay and wait for her husband to return. Sayward tells her Louie ran away with Achsa.

Back at her father's home, Jenny still has a vacuous stare and just keeps humming constantly. Sayward is about to give birth to her child. She keeps yelling at Genny to help her, but Jenny just keeps humming. Sayward has to crawl over to get a spoon so she can have something to chomp on to help her bear the pain of childbirth.

When Portius returns to the cabin, he doesn't even notice the new baby boy on the bed. So Sayward has to pick up the baby and virtually put him in the face of Portius to get him to pay some heed to the child. Portius finally cradles his baby. Sayward tells him she has named the boy Resolve. She says she wanted to name her boy with a name that demands something from the boy.

Sayward holds a christening of the baby on the cabin property. Portius is a non-believer who stands back from the ceremony. The people sing Amazing Grace and it seems to touch Genny's heart. When the singing stops and the christening begins, the people suddenly realize that Genny is now singing the song by herself. Sayward is amazed and relieved that Genny is starting to come back to them.

Portius goes up to a chained up slave in the back of a wagon and introduces himself. The slave's name is Moses. Portius asks him about his master and Moses says his name is Mr. Brown. Brown comes over and says he owns the slave. He brought him all the way from New Hampshire, where he bought Moses.

Brown quickly realizes that Portius is uneasy with slavery. He turns to his wife and says that Portius is one of those damn abolitionists. Brown tells Wheeler to stay away from him and his property.

On a rainy day, a man named Isaac pays a visit to the Wheeler cabin. He asks Sayward how many acres does she have? 144. He says the people around here want to build a church and a parsonage. And the Wheeler property is perfect because of its handy location near the river.

Sayward thinks about it and decides that the church can have one acre of their land close to the grave of her mother. Isaac is very happy and wants to rush to tell the people about it. He leaves. Sayward tells her husband that she will be proud to have a church on her land.

The men of the area work on the church after their daily work is finished. The construction is done very quickly.

Now Sayward and Portius have four children. Huldah was her first girl child. The other girl is named Sueli for Sayward's lost sister. The two boys are Resolve and Kinzie. Sueli starts jumping over the fire outside going back and forth. Resolve tells her to stay away from the fire. She says she isn't scared of that fire.

The women in the cabin hear a loud scream and rush outside. They see Sueli running away with her back covered in flames. The fire is extinguished, but the child soon dies. Sayward sobs and sobs.

A funeral is held for Sueli. Portius arrives back home as the funeral is finishing up. He heard what happened in Tateville.

Portius teaches his children at home. He tells his wife how frustrated he gets trying to teach the children. So Sayward tells him that Isaac and his wife Cora are coming over for dinner tonight. She figures that if Isaac can get a church built, then he sure can get a school built too. This time Portius is supportive of a new building.

At dinner Sayward talks about building a school with Isaac and his wife. It just so happens that Isaac is way ahead of her. He has come with a map of her land in hand and wants to get another acre from the Wheelers. He figures the school should be placed near the church.

The school is up and open. Portius has to be the teacher until they can get a regular teacher. One day Isaac brings the regular teacher to meet Portius and the student. She is pretty and makes the boys very happy. She is Mistress Bartram from Chillicothe. Portius is glad to be relieved of his teaching duties.

Portius buys an off-the-floor bed. Sayward doesn't like it because it is a frivolity as far as she is concerned. Portius is thrilled with the new bed.

Will from the trading post wants to marry Genny. She says she is already married. Will says she knows that Louie is not coming back.

Sayward gives birth to one boy and one girl. She tells her husband that she won't be able to have any more children.

Will runs to tell Genny that Louie is dead. He was killed in a fight. And now they marry.

Portius goes to visit the school teacher. The teacher meets with him in the middle of some woods. They hug and kiss.

Roebuck is attacked by a wolf.  His two assistants have to bring him into his house.  Later Portius is called to the deathbed of Roebuck to take his last will and testament. He gives the trading post to Will, but Jake only gets some land.

Jake became a vengeful man after this. He goes into the trading post, knocks over some gun powder and drops his pipe. Soon the building goes up in a huge explosion. Will gets a few things out of the store, but not much. He sees Jake and attacks him. Will and Jake fight and Will is able to get Jack down on his back. He then hits Jake a few times in the face.

Sayward gives Will and Genny a piece of riverfront property down by the river. Will will have enough land to build himself a home and still have plenty of land to spare to build a new trading post. Portius asks his wife: "Sayward, you know what you've done?" Sayward says no. Portius tells her: "You've started the town." Isaac Barker completely agrees.

At a contest for who can make the best speech, Resolve gets up and condemns the evils of slavery. Mr. Brown, who owns Moses, grabs his son and wife and they all leave the contest.

Portius gets up to tell the people that his son won't go to the Moonshine school this year for Resolve will be studying with his father in his law office in Tateville. The people claps for Portius and Resolve.

The teacher goes into the school and Portius follows her. They hug and kiss. Sayward comes into the school to thank the teacher for what she did to help Resolve. Sayward then tells Portius she wants to talk with Mistress Bartram by herself. Mrs. Wheeler asks the teacher to teach her how to read and write her name.

The two Wheeler boys are walking in the woods. They see their father hug and kiss Mistress Bartram. Then they slowly sneak out of there. Mistress Bartram tells Portius that she is with child.  Portius wants her to move to Chillicothe or Tateville. The teacher says she wants to stay in Moonshine. She also wants Portius to leave his wife, but Portius says he will definitely not leave his wife.

So Mistress Bartram says she will stay in Moonshine and give birth to their child. Then she will ask a man to marry her with her baby. Portius says there's no man in the town to be the equal of her. She will be degrading herself and the father of her child.

Sam Sloper's Tavern. Jake is monopolizing the story telling tonight. Mistress Bartram comes into the bar. The men stop talking and look at her. Jake stops her to tell her this place is not fit for a school marm. She says she was out walking, got cold and decided a drink would warm her up. So Jake sits her down and orders a drink for her. Then he's going to walk the teacher home.

Resolve sees his father go into the school house to see Mistress Bartram. He is troubled by this. He goes home and talks to his mother, who is practicing writing her name on a slate. Then she says she's going over to the school to see Mistress Bartram. Resolve wants to say something to his mother, but can't get the words out.

Portius is denouncing Mistress Bartram getting together with that varmint and buffoon Jake Tench. Sayward opens the school door and sees Portius and Misress Bartram hugging and kissing. She closes the door and walks away.

1803. Today is the celebration of Ohio becoming a state. Portius makes a grand speech. After his speech two men from Chillicothe come up to him and ask him if he wants to be in politics?

Portius goes home and finds his wife out plowing the field. She says he has been dishonest with her. Portius tells her the other woman is with his child. He adds that two men have asked permission to put his name in for a federal judgeship. Sayward tells him to go for it.

 

 

Part III.

 

Portius returns home after two months absence. The kids are reserved in their reception of their father. They do ask him if he is president, or a president judge, or just a judge? Portius says he is nothing. He was not named because he's a free-thinker. So who is the federal judge? None other than Zefron Brown, the owner of the slave Moses, as well as other slaves.

Sayward tells Portius that he is going to have to see Brown because she bought some hay from him and he wants to get paid. Portius is not pleased.

Brown brings the hay over to the weighing scales operated by Will. Portius and Resolve arrive soon afterwards. Will weighs the hay and the wagon. Portius tells Brown to come along with him to the tavern. There Portius pays Brown for the hay.

Brown says he's going home now. Portius tells him he can't do that because he (Portius) has just bought Brown as a slave. He says to Brown that he has to walk with his head down . He adds: "You're my nigger now, Mr. Brown." He surely did purchase Brown when he, Brown, signed the document of sale.

So Brown pays in cash what his weight is worth in hay. Portius says that he will not take any money for the act of cheating. He suggests that Brown sign a statement that the hay was a gift to Mr. Wheeler. Brown says he won't sign such a document. Portius replies that if the hay were a gift, there is no way he could bring any charges against Mr. Brown. Mr. Brown now gives Portius all the money Portius gave him. He walks out of the tavern in a huff.

The men all shout their approval of Portius' fancy talking and legalizing. Portius will buy drinks for everyone in the tavern until the money from Brown is all spent. The men cheer for that idea.

Portius comes home a bit drunk. He goes up to the loft to talk to Sayward. She is sleeping with the twins near her. Portius asks her to sleep with him downstairs. She tells him that Mistress Bartram and Jake Tench got married. Only Mr. Sloper and his wife were in attendance. Sayward says she will not sleep in his bed.

The sickness came to Moonshine Church. Some people say it was cholera. Portius helped with the sick and he caught the disease. The local doctor tells Sayward that he has no more cholera medicine. The doctor also says that Portius was somewhat of a hero in Fishtown where there were so many deaths. They say Portius helped save a lot of lives.

Sayward remembers how moss lemonade helped her father when he was really sick. One of her girls collects the moss and Sayward makes the drink. She gets Portius to drink the mixture.

Sayward prays for the survival of Portius.

The next morning Portius is up and around. Sayward gives him a big hug and a couple of kisses. She says it took a plague to show her how much she still loves Portius. She also says that they can have sex again.

Sayward is pregnant with her 7th child, a boy they name Chancey (or Chauncey) Wheeler.

Some years later, Resolve marries Faye Morrison. Chancey is pretty big by now.

Portius wants to build a new, fancy home for Sayward up on the hill that she owns. Sayward doesn't want it, because she is happy with the house she has now. Portius says she needs a respectable place for her station in life and it would benefit him too.

Chancey has a bad heart. A young man comes in to tell Sayward that her son is sick again. The doctor tells Sayward to get him out more and let him run. She is mothering him too much. He needs more exercise. So now everyday he will go down to the river and back.

Isaac comes to Sayward to buy some land from her. He has 13 children and not one of them show any signs of wanting to marry. The land he wants to buy is the land on which Portius wants to build the new house. Sayward says she will think on it.

Huldah has eyes for George Holcomb.

The Tench boys come over to talk to Chancey. They ask him what's wrong with him and he says his heart jumps. The bigger of the two brothers calls for Rosa their sister. When she comes out, her older brother asks her if she wants to feel Chancey's heart jump? She goes over to him, asks if it's alright and puts her head to his chest.

The former Mrs. Bartram sticks her head out the door and tells Chancey to get away. Rosa runs over to him to say that her mother doesn't mean it. A young girl watches out after Chancey when he does his walks. She tells him to stay away from that Rosa Tench or he will get in trouble with his parents. Chancey wants to know why. The girl says she doesn't know why, but he just has to stay away from her.

Huldah went missing. A young man comes to the door saying that he heard a girl was missing in Moonshine and he was wondering if maybe the girl could be the strange girl that just showed up one night over at the Holcombe Furnace. He describes the girl and the Wheelers agree that that's their Huldah, alright.

In a carriage Sayward goes across the river on Jake Tench's ferry and then heads for the Folcombe Furnace. She finds Huldah who says she's not going home with her. Sayward says she will come or her mother will force her to come. Huldah agrees to go with her mother.

On the way back over the river Jake says she will have to wait until he drops off this load of people. This make Sayward so mad that she urges her horse into the river and the horse pulls the carriage to the other side of the river. A huge crowd gathers to see this feat accomplished.

When the horse and carriage arrive on the other side of the river the gathered townspeople applaud for Sayward's brassiness. As the carriage heads down the dirt road, Huldah thanks her mother for coming to get her. And when they got home, Sayward was very pleased that Huldah minded her mother without any sassiness.

Portius and Isaac are up on top of the hill with the architect who is going to build the "Barker" House. Portius explains that his wife would not agree to the building of a new home, so he had Isaac buy the land with money he got from Portius. Once the house is built, Portius is certain that Sayward will agree to live in it.

Now Chancey starts giving Sayward problems. At first he didn't even want to walk to the river and back, but now he was walking everywhere, including walking out of school whenever he wanted to and not returning.

Chancey goes down to the river with the Tench boys and smokes some tobacco. It makes him sick and the boys bring Chancey home with them and ask their mother to make him feel better. She gives him an herb mixture to drink. Rosa returns home and says it's so nice to see Chancey here.

When Mrs. Tench see how delighted her Rosa is to see Chancey, she insults Chancey and forces him to get out. Rosa grabs on to him, saying her mother doesn't mean that. A drunken Jake with two drunken drinking buddies burst in through the door. Chancey gets scared and runs out ot the cabin. Rosa runs after him.

Mrs. Tench yells to Jake about Rosa running after that Chancey Wheeler. Jake starts running after his daughter. Chancey and Rosa hide from Mr. Tench and he can't find them. Rosa says she will take Chancey into the deep woods with her. She also mentions that she sneaks at night down to the river to walk in the moonlight. After their talk, Rosa walks home.

Portius tells the family at dinner that his Aunt Unity died and his sister Cornelia sold her home. She took from the home the furniture that she wanted and shipped the rest to Moonshine for the Portius Wheeler family. The furniture will be stored in Mr. Dyke's warehouse until the children's mother provides a good piece of land.

Portius invites everyone to go down to the dock with him. Sayard says she's going to clean up the dishes. When the others rush out of the house, Sayward tells Portius that she rode up to the top of the hill and talked to the architect building the house there. When she mentions to him that the house seems way too grand for the Barker tribe, the architect becomes very nervous. So she rides over to the Barker place and Isaac confesses the whole plot to her.

Sayword tells her husband that he can build his fancy house, but she's not going to live in it. She says her old house is filled with too many wonderful memories to just get up an walk away from it. Portius and some of the children can live in the house, but it will be without her.

Portius tells her that he will finish building the house and then sell it. He won't live in a home without his wife.

Portius and the children return with a portrait of Aunt Unity. He says Aunt Unity gave money to the Boston Tea Party and actively worked against human slavery.

One cold day an old man comes walking into Moonshine. He goes over to the Wheeler place. Sayward doesn't recognize him at first, but when he takes his hat off and talks to her she sees that it's her father.

Sayward tells him all about what has happened during his long absence. In fact, she tells her father that he is going to be a great grandfather soon. Her first born Resolve and his wife are going to have a baby. Three of the children come home and Sayward tells them to say hello to their grandfather.

Grandfather says he's not used to being around young 'uns, so he'll go stay with Genny and Will who have no children. He says he will come back to see Sayward.

Rosa runs out to the meeting place where Chancey is. Chancey tells her that he had to promise that he would never see Rosa again. She asks if that's why she hasn't seen him for three weeks? She says she wouldn't promise and she wants to know why did Chancey make the promise. Chancey says his father made him promise.

His dad told him it was evil for them to be together. It has something to do with who Rosa is and who Chancey is. He tells Rosa that his father says that Rosa will have to ask her mother about who she is. He also tells her that it was her mother who wrote his father saying how evil it is and how it was Chancey's father's duty to keep the two children apart.

Rosa concludes that they can never see each other again. She runs away shouting at him to never look at her again because she's wicked and unclean.

Genny tells her sister that Pa is not living with her. He sleeps in some shanty. Genny also says that she was told that their father had been living in Michigan with some woman called Old Profanity. Sayward says that's pa's business and she's not going to fret about it.

At night the architect Mr. Gowan comes to see Sayward. It seems that Mr. Wheeler took off someplace and is leaving all the decisions about the house details to Mrs. Wheeler. Sayward says her husband said nothing to her about this.

She tells Mr. Gowan that she will try to come to the construction site tomorrow. She is mad at her husband for making her to do all this by herself. She gets out her money hidden around the house and counts it up.

Alone Rosa walks down by the river bank.

Portius arrives shouting that he has become the new judge of the Appellate Court. Isaac Barkers come to the house bearing bad new. Little Rosa Tench is dead. She drowned in the river and some boatman found her body. Isaac says she must have slipped into the river.

Chancey runs down to their old meeting place. He returns at dinner time when everyone else is sitting at the dinner table. He says that Rosa will have to lie in Potter's Acre. His father tells him no. She won't have to. Portius tells Sayward that he hopes that it was not a suicide. He also says Rosa will be buried in the local graveyard.

Portius goes to the Tench house. He hands Jake the note and asks Jake to read it and give him their answer, please. Tench shows it to his wife and then comes back and closes the door.

Rosa is buried in the church graveyard. After the others start walking away, Chancey cries and asks Rose to forgive him.

Aunt Cornelia comes to the old cabin a day early. She seems to enjoy meeting the family. She tells her nieces and nephews information about their Wheeler ancestors. And now grandfather arrives. Sayward introduces him to Cornelia.

Grandfather goes on a rant about how the older generation was so tough and the new ones are so weak. Cornelia pays grandfather a grand compliment and grandfather does the same for her.

It's time to move to the new home. Sayward reminisces about her old memories, both good and bad.

The large Wheeler family enters the new home together. They all seem to love it, except for grandfather who says it's all a waste of money. Portius has Sayward come out onto the second floor balcony. Many of the towns people are outside and they clap when she comes out onto the balcony.

The only change Sayward wants is for there to be more trees around the place. Family and friends come out to plant the trees together. Sayward is happy as she looks around at everyone helping to plant the trees.

 

The story is mostly fictional. I really like these kinds of historical stories to be more grounded in a certain time and place. Very few places are named and the only three that are real were Chillicothe and the Ohio and Sandusky Rivers. I investigated Chillicothe and looked upstream and downstream on the river there. I did not see any Tateville, for instance. I also found out that there's a Chillicothe, Illinois which is the adjacent state on Ohio's western boundary. I read in IMDb that the film was shot in Illinois. But I still think the setting was probably Ohio.

And the story hardly ever mentions any historical dates, except the day of the celebration of statehood. The people hardly ever speak about current events. Was there nothing exciting happening in the Ohio Territory? Yes.  There were important and interesting things happening around 1803, Ohio statehood being one of those things. The native Americans are rarely seen.

They could have made the film much better by using more history in it. As it goes, the film is interesting to watch. Elizabeth Montgomery does a very good job as the main character. Also good was Hal Holbrook as her wayward husband.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 


Historical Background:

1763-1764 -- Pontiac's Rebellion. Eight forts were destroyed, and hundreds of colonists were killed or captured, with many more fleeing the region.

1777 -- Schoenbrunn (Beautiful Spring in German) was founded and is considered the first white settlement in Ohio. It was founded by missionaries from Moravia Bohemia, present Czechoslovakia (which has been divided into two separate republics). The reconstructed Schoenbrunn Village is administered by the Ohio Historical Society and managed locally by the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum. It is located in New Philadelphia, Ohio.

1787-1803 -- The United States created the Northwest Territory under the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. Slavery was not permitted in the new territory.

1788 -- pioneers to the Ohio Country established Marietta as the first permanent white American settlement of the new United States in the Northwest Territory. Marietta is located in southeastern Ohio at the mouth of the Muskingum River at its confluence with the Ohio River.

1788 -- establishment of Cincinnati.

1796 -- establishment of Chillicothe and Cleveland.

1797 -- establishment of Youngstown, Steubenville and Franklinton.

1798 -- establishment of New Castle.

1799 -- establishment of Zanesville.

1800-- Chillicothe became capital of Northwest Territory.

1803 -- Ohio becomes a state.

1812 -- Columbus founded; Fort Meigs constructed to protect Ohio from invasion.

1816 -- State capital relocated to Columbus.

1830 -- under President Andrew Jackson, the US government forced Indian Removal of most tribes to the Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River.

1835 -- Ohio fought with Michigan in the Toledo War, a mostly bloodless boundary war over the Toledo Strip. Congress intervened, making Michigan's admittance as a state conditional on ending the conflict. In exchange for giving up its claim to the Toledo Strip, Michigan was given the western two-thirds of the Upper Peninsula.

 

 

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