PETER BECOMES A TRAIL MAN
The Story of a Boy’s Journey on the Santa Fe Trail
By William Chapin Carson
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In the early 1850s, twelve-year-old Peter Blair’s mother has died and his father has gone to Santa Fe to seek his fortune. Left in St. Louis, a friend has agreed to care for Peter. Before long his father’s acquaintance “Uncle” Seth goes back to St. Louis to check on Peter. But Peter is lonely and persuades his new uncle to take him to Santa Fe to be with his father. On the way, Uncle Seth leads their wagon train through an Indian attack, desertion by greenhorns, a buffalo stampede, a violent storm, and many other hardships. When Peter finally reaches his destination, he finds that his father is no longer in Santa Fe. Now he must go on yet another journey—one that almost proves fatal.
William Chapin Carson comes from a St. Louis family steeped in the history of that city and New Mexico. His great, great grandfather, William Carr Lane, was elected the first Mayor of St. Louis in 1823 and appointed the second Territorial Governor of New Mexico in 1852 by President Millard Fillmore. The journal he kept on his six-week trip from St. Louis to Santa Fe on the Santa Fe Trail forms the basis of Peter Becomes a Trail Man. Carson received a B.A. degree from Princeton University in 1950 and a M.B.A. from Stanford University in 1956. From 1950 to 1954 he served in the Air Force as a navigator on B-29 and RB-36 aircraft. He and his wife, Georgia, lived in Santa Fe for twenty-six years. The greater part of his career was involved with many aspects of education and early in 1998 Bill and Georgia initiated a program in a Santa Fe public elementary school to assist students from backgrounds of poverty. It has now grown to become the New Mexico affiliate of the national Communities in Schools organization assisting hundreds of students in ten schools. When the Carsons retired from active participation in 2017, the state legislature recognized their success and the mayor of Santa Fe designated March fourth as Bill and Georgia Carson Day. Carson is also the author of He Moved West with America, The Life and Times of Wm. Carr Lane: 1789-1863.
Cover artwork by Pat Oliphant. Pat Oliphant, now retired was one of the leading political cartoonists in the United States for decades. His work was syndicated in hundreds of newspapers and recognized through a wide range of prestigious awards. He has lived in Santa Fe for many years.
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