The Trading Post a frontier story


One of the first things I did when I got to Flint’s Crossing was to visit my sister at the trading post, which was also her home. My name is John Cassidy and I came to this frontier settlement partly because my “big sister” Megan had written to me several times to come and visit. I reached a time in life, a fork in the road, so to speak, when I had doubts about my vocation in life. After several years of study for the Catholic priesthood and assignment to serve as an assistant for Bishop Carroll, the Catholic bishop of the United States. Since I had not taken my final vows, at this stage I was not yet a priest. The bishop concurred that it might be well for me to visit family members before making such an important decision as joining the clergy, which is a lifetime commitment in the Catholic Church. I had also agreed to write to the bishop and tell him about conditions on the frontier and how they might affect the faith.

The frontier was certainly a new experience for a boy raised in the city of Baltimore. Even the trading post was sharp contrast to anything back in Maryland. Before going in, I stopped by the front to study the nature of the building. Rubbing my hand across the logs which were structured to form a wall, I felt clay mixture that formed a mortar between the logs. The door was of a heavy wood. A glass window ran across the front which must have been expensive and difficult to transport so far. It hadn't been so very long that Lewis and Clark had come through here for the first time. When I got inside the showroom of the store, I realized the value of the imported glass. The sunshine gave both a warmth to the skin and to the atmosphere of the place. Instantly I knew it must be something my sister must have insisted upon.

The trading post was built on several levels and appeared to be dug into the hillside. At the top where I entered was where customers for food and household goods entered. Down below were arrangements for boats to dock, load and unload goods.

When I went into the store I looked out the window and could see the river and the keelboats. A boat, which was bigger than the others was starting to anchor at the dock on the lower level of the store. When I went inside the store I saw was a neat display of household goods and supplies on shelves where the customer’s eye was attracted. Yes this was not the work of a man; it had to be the influence of my big sister. “Hello Megan,” I said as I saw the red headed Irish lass that was actually inches shorter than me. . I called her my big sister because she virtually raised my two brothers and me when mother died. She was the oldest. “Hello John. I’m glad the bishop let you come. It’s been a long time since we talked.”

“I’m anxious to meet your husband.” I said. “I’m told he’s a fur trader and the reason for this trading post.” My sister blushed when I said this. Her suntanned and freckled face was flushed. “There is something you have to understand, John.”

I wondered what upset her. She had always been a person who seldom got flustered. “What is it, Megan?”

“Well, Gator and I are not exactly married,” she stammered.

Somehow, it didn’t surprise me as much as she apparently thought it would. The trip getting here with Frenchy and other keelboat men and their stories prepared me, I guess, for all sorts of unexpected things. Truly, she was so embarrassed that I could only take her in my arms and hold her.

“You see,” she said. “I came here and met Gator. There was no priest around, so we couldn’t get married in the church. A circuit riding judge came through here and he married us but we never got the blessing of the church.”

“I think we can do something about that. We can’t have a mass though because I haven’t been ordained. When will he be back?”

Megan looked relieved to hear that. She started to show me the store and tell me of the successes and troubles of running a trading post. River pirates were the biggest problem. She inherited Father’s business sense and they did well, but the pirates were getting bolder and bolder, she told me.

“Gator should be here the day after tomorrow. That’s when the traders and trappers should be here with more furs. We just got supplies in from trading companies that we can sell to the trappers. A few Indians come in as well.”

Megan invited me to come back for dinner and I walked out onto the balcony that overlooked the river. Looking down I noted the boat that I had seen before and it dawned on me that Megan had said there were no traders expected for another two days. Suddenly, it seemed urgent to go in and check on Megan. I didn’t have any weapons but I am a large man and pretty athletic. The attacker had apparently been waiting outside the room waiting for me to leave. When I entered Megan was holding him off with a hunting knife.

The intruder was holding a pistol and threatening my sister. She appeared calm, but a knife against a gun is a poor advantage. I lunged at him and knocked him over. Then I felt a sharp pain on the back of my head and things went blank. When I woke up Megan had the pistol and a man who was dressed as a seafaring man was holding a bleeding arm. The man I attacked appeared to be unconscious. My tackle must have knocked him out. Never the less, Megan seemed to be upset. I told her she didn’t have to be upset about throwing the knife and cutting the man’s arm.

“John, my dear brother. You should know me better than that. Hurting a pirates arm doesn’t bother me. But I was aiming at his heart and missed. You can’t miss your target very often out here and survive. That pirate should be dead.”

If anything, my sister is a survivor.

© 2013 Don A. Hoglund

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Comments 26 comments

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Glad to read that John and Megan came out of that okay. I have a feeling that John isn't going to end up going into the priesthood.

Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

Delightful story and enjoyable read. I truly enjoy reading about self-sufficient women and it appears your heroine is definitely one! Best/Sis

botipton profile image

botipton 4 years ago from Cecilia, KY

Great story and I want to hear what happens next.

xstatic profile image

xstatic 4 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

A well-written story with the feel of authentic history to it. I am sure that is what a frontier trading post looked like, so well described.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hi Susan, Thanks for reading. As I originally conceived the story I wanted to explore religion on the frontier. John was having a crisis of faith and the bishop sends him to the frontier on what we now call a sabbatical leave. In the original concept John does return, but I don't know. My characters have a way of doing things I don't expect.

Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 4 years ago from Hereford, AZ

Good story. Interesting times those were. Never boring.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hi sis. Megan had to take responsibility for three younger brothers when their mother died. That would have made her pretty independent. Thanks for commenting.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

botipen, thanks for commenting. I hope you like the next stories.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

xstatic, thanks for commenting and I like that you found an authentic feel to it.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks Becky. Glad you liked it.

drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

Life on a trading post in those days could not have been easy for Megan, Don, but I should have known she would be a survivor. Those river pirates will know better next time than to mess with your big sister. After all, she honed her skills watching out for three younger brothers. Enjoyed your story and look forward to more episodes.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

drjb, thanks for reading the story. John has a lot to learn yet about the frontier.

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Good story, Don!

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks, Will.

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

Good job, brother. I really enjoy reading the story. Thanks for share with us. Voted up! ~Prasetio

TheManWithNoPants profile image

TheManWithNoPants 4 years ago from Tucson, Az.


Great story and even better point!

~ jim

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Prasetio, Thank you for reading the story. I'm glad to know that you enjoyed it.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hi Jim. I hadn't really thought about making a point so much as letting the characters do what is natural for them. Thanks for commenting.

B. Leekley profile image

B. Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

Up and Interesting and shared with followers. I take this to be historical fiction based on solid research. Well told.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

B.Leekley, Thanks for reading and sharing. I try to keep the story in the realms of something that could have happened.

Bill Kinghorn 3 years ago

A few sentences suggesting a vast and awesome territory would be worthwhile, and a glimpse of Megan's mate.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hi Bill, glad to get your comment. I also appreciate the advice. I'll consider revising the story later on.

klidstone1970 profile image

klidstone1970 3 years ago from Niagara Region, Canada

Just think of all the hard work someone back then had to do in order to survive. I felt how much of a challenge it was for Megan and how alone she at times must feel and am glad her brother was there to help. I enjoyed this very much.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Kidstone, The frontier could be both dangerous and demanding in terms of work. Megan,however, is strong and resilient. She will survive wherever she is. Thank you for reading and commenting. I am glad that you enjoyed reading it.

ladyguitarpicker profile image

ladyguitarpicker 8 months ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

Hi, I like the story and find it to be very interesting. I like how you describe the territory and really like the character Megan. I love a strong person.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 8 months ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for commenting. I do believe frontier women were brave and strong. They had to be.

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