Dalton, Nebraska

July 1, 1857

Carson Pierce wiped beads of perspiration from his brow as he turned his team of horses onto a wagon-rut "road", willing to let it take him and his family wherever it meandered. They had been on the trail for far too long. His all ready frail wife, Ginny, was suffering because of it. His youngest, one year old, Grayson, wasn't faring much better.

All things considered, Carson couldn't help but wonder if leaving Indiana had been a good idea at all. He had definitely decided that he and his were staying put in whatever town they came across next.

Speaking of which… Ginny laid her hand on his tanned forearm.

His blonde wife asked him, her blue eyes brighter than he had seen them in days, "That is a town, isn't it?"

""It is! It is! We've found it, Ginny!"

Ginny twisted around at the waist to tell the children, "Look, children, we're here!"

Grayson clambered up into his mother's lap. Three year old Eliza did the same to Carson until he consented to settling her between his legs. Seven year old Amos popped up to peer from the back of the wagon from his vantage point between his parents' heads. Five year old Claire craned her neck to look around her mother's shoulder.

Five buildings rose from the endless expanse of prairie like a beacon. As he drove closer, Carson recognized a blacksmith's forge. The other buildings were marked with signs as "Dr. E. Powell", "Postal Service", and "General Store, lodging, meals". The fifth building, Carson could tell, was a church house. The church and general store were older than the other buildings, though none were older than a few years.

"Excuse me." Carson spoke to a young woman emerging from the general store, the only pedestrian on the streets.

"Yes, sir?" The teenager asked politely.

"What's the name of this town?"

"Dalton, Nebraska."

"Is it a good place to raise a family?"

"I suppose so. I'm the school teacher here, Celina Gardner. There's a restaurant and rooms to stay in at the general store. If you're looking for a place to rest, you'll find that at the general store as well."

"Is there still claimable land near here?"

"Oh, yes, sir. There's only nine homesteads near here."

Carson tipped his hat to the teacher. "Much obliged for the information, Miss Gardner. Thank you for your time. I'll most likely be seeing you around."

This is the fourth installment in my "Dalton" series. Please review! I need the motivation to continue this. Thanks! :)