Sparkle Schoolhouse
FIFTY Study Page- Illinois: "Crossing the River"

FIFTY Study Page- Illinois: "Crossing the River"

“Crossing the River” focuses on the Mormon migration from Missouri to Illinois in the 1830s. Drusilla Hendricks had a particularly challenging voyage in that her husband was wounded and her children were hungry - and the sudden exodus from Missouri needed to take place in the winter. When she and her family came to the western edge of the Mississippi, she saw that the river was still frozen but that the ice may be too thin to cross. What to do?

Note: Though this is historical fiction and the characters have been developed to accommodate a story, their attributes and development may be useful as reference points and inspirations.

Topics for Investigation


  • History of the Church of Latter Day Saints
  • Biography of Joseph Smith
  • An account of the Battle of Crooked River


  • Map of the movement of Mormon people west from New york to Ohio and onward to Salt Lake City
  • Map of Drusilla’s travel east from Missouri to Quincy Illinois

“Crossing the River” STUDY TOPICS

  • LDS (Mormon) as an American Religion.
  • Comparing LDS with other large spiritual institutions and religions
  • Compare the Quincy experience with other Refugee experiences

    Topics for Reflection

    From a Child Development Perspective:

    In this story, your child might learn that:

  • Faith and Trust are very similar, but they are slightly different. Faith means having to rely on being taken care of by something that you can’t always see. We can trust ourselves or our friends or our parents, but having Faith means that we have to trust that things will work out, even if we don’t know how. Making it a hundred and sixty miles east in the winter with two young children and a wounded husband would not be easy for Drusila. But doing it anyway was a true test of her faith.

  • To many, be of service is the greatest joy in all the world. This is the foundation of the Mormon faith-a deep and abiding love for each other and all people - and that being alive to help others is the greatest gift of all.

  • When we stand hand in hand in community, we make each other stronger. When we find people who share our beliefs or our interests, and we stick together, we can support and even protect each other when as individuals we may feel threatened. James had only to remind Drusilla that they were not alone, even though their Mormon beliefs were being questioned.

  • There are times in life when we make choices, and times when choices are made for us. Drusila knew what she had to do in crossing the river, and faith or no faith, she felt she had no choice. It was a matter of conviction and a matter of survival, even if it meant going on a perilous journey.

  • There is nothing more reassuring and comforting than one human heart reaching out to another. Drusilla and her children did make it across the river; and perhaps it was an act of God that helped them across. In the end, however, it was the love, kindness and hospitality of a fellow friend, Mrs Doggett, who kept them safe and who nurtured their weary souls.

About the Authors

David Sewell McCann

Story Spinner

David Sewell McCann fell in love with spinning stories in first grade – the day a storyteller came to his class and captured his mind and imagination. He has been engaged in storytelling all of his adult life through painting, film-making, teaching and performing. Out of his experience as a Waldorf elementary class teacher and parent, he has developed a four step method of intuitive storytelling, which he now shares through workshops and through this website.

Meredith Markow

Sparkle Schoolhouse Head of School

Meredith has been working with adults and children of all ages for the past 25 years as a Waldorf Teacher and Educational Consultant. She received a B.A. with a focus on child development and child psychology from the University of Michigan, in 1984, an M.A. Ed from Washington University in 1987, and her Waldorf Teaching Certificate from the Lehrerausbildung (Teacher Training) in Nurnberg, Germany in 1989. She was certified as a Living Inquiries Facilitator in 2014, and she completed her formal teaching certification with The Enneagram Institute in 2014. Her work in the classroom and with individuals and groups is designed to help people of all ages to drop self-limiting beliefs to live a more joyful and compassionate life.

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