Lesson 2: Narcissa's Childhood Memories

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Each day have someone quiz you on the following spelling words. If you misspell any word then write them down 10 times each. Then quiz yourself on the definitions of each word. If you don’t know the definition, look it up and write it down.

  1. mountain
  2. adventure
  3. discovery
  4. establish
  5. profession
  6. apprentice
  7. gristmill
  8. distillery
  9. needlework
  10. weave

Writing Prompts

Choose one of the following writing prompts and write a one-page story.

1. You are on a great adventure indeed! The Great Migration has just begun and you are on one of the ships sailing for the America’s. Write what happens while you’re on board.

2. One day, just as you were about the feed the llamas, some rich-looking people come by and interrupt your daily chores. They show you a family tree and explain that you are the last descendant to the late royal Lord who settled in America during the 1600’s.

3. You own one of the richest plantations in Massachusette’s Bay Colony. The townsfolk all love you as you are a kind person and have given you an honorable nickname, which people came to know you by hundreds of years later. What is that nickname and why did they give it to you?

4. The American Revolution is taking place, and you are a Revolutionary Spy on your way to deliver a message to John Hancock. It is wet, snowing, and you have no shoes! Just when things couldn’t get any worse, the British capture you and suspect you are a spy. Plan your escape!

5. The date is 1774, and the day is hot and humid. Everything is going normally until a peculiar-looking fellow comes along and claims he is your great-great-great-great-grandson from the future! He is here to help you escape, but he never tells you from what.

Narcissa's Childhood Memories

Children in the modern world are considerably different from the children 2 hundred years ago. They didn’t have iPad, computers, current schools, WiFi, or television; in fact, most children barely had enough to eat. When Narcissa Prentiss was born, America was young and free. Mountain men of the west had blazed trails through forest and mountainous regions to prepare the way for the coming pioneers. But our nation was also unprepared and unorganized. The government was trying desperately to grasp concepts while it still had it’s military and was forced to take unfortunate measures before and after the War of 1812. This was known as the Jacksonian Era. This was a time of joy, expansion, and destiny for some. But for others it was a time of sorrow, pain and tears.

In this lesson and the following we will go over how Narcissa would have lived her life in the beginning of the 18th century and how society viewed Mountain Men as heroes!

In our last lesson, we learned the history of the Prentiss Family, and how they first came to America. From her ancestor “Henry the Planter” in the early 1600’s to her father Stephen Prentiss in the 1800’s.

Stephen Prentiss was born on October 25, 1777 in Walpole, Cheshire, New Hampshire. His parents, Stephen Prentiss and Mary Turner were married in Massachusetts but moved to New Hampshire. Their son grew up then moved to Onondaga, New York. There he married the lovely Clarissa Ward. Clarissa’s parents are unknown, as is her birth-state. In Onondaga they had one child together whom they named Stephen Turner Prentiss, born on February 6, 1804. Stephen decided to move before their second child would come, and moved his family to Prattsburg, Steuben County, New York. There they had eight more children including Narcissa. After settling into the small and young county, Stephen built his growing family a modest house with wood he obtained from his saw mill. He ended up controlling not only a saw mill, but gristmill, and a distillery. Stephen began to get involved in the community and help the county. He was eventually appointed as Steuben’s first judge.

Narcissa was born on March 14, in 1808. Her family was new to the people of New York, but they ended up living in the small county for nearly 30 years! It was here Narcissa spent her young life growing up like any other child during the 1800’s. Life was of course busy!

To grow up in a full house like Narcissa meant there were plenty of chores to do. Wives during the 1800’s were expected to run the house and tend the children while the husbands went off to work in the fields. Girls quickly learned how to run a complete household and help their mothers while boys learned their father’s trade or got apprenticed off to another willing teacher.

Chores for a young girl in a busy home would have included sweeping, dusting, cooking, cleaning, checking the fire, collecting eggs, fetching water in a pail, and helping their mother in any way possible. There were dishes to be cleaned, floors to be mopped, and siblings to untangle. Narcissa would have also learned her mother, Clarissa’s professions which would have probably consisted of needlework, candle making, canning and storing food, weaving, and other various skills.

Jim Bridger

While Narcissa was a young girl stories and dreams were forming on the Corps of Discovery. Lewis and Clark had already left to explore the Louisiana Purchase in 1804 by the order of President Jefferson. Their journey lasted 2 years. And their adventure spawned the tragic tall tales of the Mountain Man that had joined the Corps of Discovery, John Colter. This famous trip would inspire many young men to become mountain men and trappers.

Narcissa would have probably heard stories of the Corps of Discovery, and how the brave men survived the wilderness in Indian country. Whilst she was helping her mother with the daily chores, Narcissa probably often dreamed of the adventures westward. And as she grew up, so did young mountain men Jim Bridger, Jedediah Smith and James Beckwourth. Little did she know that she would grow up to be an adventurer herself, and would in fact hold a meeting with some of the most famous Mountain men who “tamed the west”!

Narcissa Whitman Ancestry

Write your answers on a piece of paper. When you’ve completed the quiz check the answers at the bottom of the page under the Answers tab.

Stephen Prentiss was born in what state?

(a) New York
(b) New Hampshire
(c) Massachusetts

Stephen married Clarissa Ward in what part of New York?

(a) Prattsburg
(b) Cheshire
(c) Onondaga

Name seven chores that Narcissa would have participated in.

Narcissa was born on March 14, ____________.

(a) 1804
(b) 1806
(c) 1808

True or False:

Narcissa’s family lived in Prattsburg for nearly 20 years!

Which Mountain Man joined the Corps of Discovery?

(a) James Beckwourth
(b) Jim Bridger
(c) John Colter

Which President ordered the Louisiana Purchase to be explored?

(a) President Jackson
(b) President Jefferson
(c) President Taylor

Lesson Activities

Have fun and strengthen your vocabulary and spelling skills by playing our challenging online word games! Enjoy our relaxing puzzles or challenge yourself to put the pieces together in record time!

Lesson Challenge

Make bread!
Find an old family favorite home-made-from-scratch recipe that your great grandmother might have used while she was young or find a great bread recipe online and give it a try!

Quiz Answers

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  1. b

  2. c

  3. answers may vary – sweeping, dusting, cooking, cleaning, checking the fire, collecting eggs, fetching water, helping mother.

  4. c

  5. False

  6. c

  7. b