This movie is about the Sager family, a father (Henry), mother (Naomi) (who is pregnant with child #7), and 6 children: John, Francis (Frank), Catherine, Elizabeth, Matilda, and Hannah (Louisa). The family currently lives in Platte County, Missouri, but Henry wants to seek a better life in Oregon.
In 1844 Henry and his family joined the “Independent Colony”, a group of pioneers consisting of 300 people in 72 covered wagons. They crossed the Missouri River and began the 2,000-mile trek known as the Oregon Trail. Five weeks later, Naomi gave birth to the seventh child, Henrietta. Naomi was left extremely weak and was slow in starting to regain her strength.
Travel was extremely difficult, and the family encountered one difficulty after another. The wagon overturned and Naomi was severely injured. Catherine jumped out of the moving wagon and caught her dress, leaving her leg trapped under one of the heavy wheels. The leg was broken several times, leaving her confined to the wagon for the duration of the trip.
An outbreak of camp fever resulted in the death of Henry, then Naomi fell ill with pneumonia and died. The seven children ranged from three months to thirteen years and were now orphaned. Henry had told John to take care of the family, and at 13 years old, he stepped up to the task and decided to lead his brothers and sisters to the new life his parents sought.
In October 1844, the wagon train reached the Whitman Mission, where John eventually decided to allow Kit Carson to negotiate with the government for land to be held for them. The children would stay with the Whitman’s until the weather cleared, and then finish the remainder of the trip to Oregon.