One summer evening long ago, the author Gail Kenna and her maternal grandmother sat before a fire in the family’s ancestral mountain cabin in Poso Park, California. Gail heard her grandmother say, “I don’t think you’ve ever read these old letters in this ledger.” Later that night in bed, Gail opened the book and was transported to 1849, traveling the Gold Rush trail with her great-great grandfather, Eugene B. Chase.
His journey begins in upstate Vermont and ends in northern California. Along the way he rides a riverboat down the Ohio River, joins a wagon train in St. Louis, endures the Santa Fe Trail, fights scurvy with Native American remedies, crosses a treacherous desert, and eventually mines for gold.
For Eugene it is a journey to adulthood, as well as to a new land. When he returns to his family in Vermont, he has earned enough money to build a house in Derby Line.
His letters home to sister Hortense, later copied into a ledger, are read 150 years later by his great-great granddaughter. The letters will change her life.
Here to There and Back Again
A 2020 edition of Along the Gold Rush Trail (1982-2002). New version includes map of Eugene B. Chase’s journey West, gallery of 1850s travel and gold mining, and Afterword.
"A wonderful evocation of a Great American Adventure, rendered in the person of a most sympathetic hero. Compelling and dramatic, Here to There and Back Again entertains on multiple levels, and brings to life a pivotal frontier story. Highly informative, a genuine pleasure."
- Wayne Johnson, author of, among others, Don't Think Twice, Six Crooked Highways, The Devil You Know
"Gail Wilson Kenna’s book recreates the flavor of the 1849 Gold Rush by dramatizing her great-great grandfather’s letters. Ms. Kenna provides readers of all ages a primer on change, challenges met and promises kept—and how an individual’s character can be revealed through a journey. This powerful story is evocative, easy to read and understand. Ironically, with our modern travel hindered by the current virus, the story seems even more insightful."
- Keith Kehlbeck, writer, historian, and author of Gone to God: A Civil War Family’s Ultimate Sacrifice
The Story of a Contrary, Contumacious Cat
In a dual-military household, a contrary Persian cat keeps pooping on a major's valued rug. Four lively female characters resolve a problem related to moving stress. Glossary includes thirty words, playfully presented. Charming artwork by A. Cort Sinnes.
“Your story is charming, hilarious, and wonderfully sensitive. I laughed out loud while reading passages to my husband, who had a similarly fraught relationship with his daughter’s cat.”
- Carole Harlow, ESL, Adult literacy teacher
The Face of the Avila
Second edition ISBN 980-07-2564-4
“I identified with so much, not only about Venezuelan culture shock in all its manifestations, but also in respect to friendship and the various women’s themes that permeate the letters of Iris and Jessica. After finishing the book, I felt as though I’d had a good, long talk with friends.”
- Elisabeth Friedman
Stanford University, Fulbright scholar
"When I read The Face of the Avila, I laughed and remembered those times I was bewildered, confused, and plainly lost in another country. This book is a 'must read' for newcomers to foreign countries because it tells the reader, "You are not alone. We have all been there, and in time you will enjoy your life overseas."
- Ileana Puig, Community Liaison Officer (CLO),
U.S. Embassy, Lima, Peru