Clay County Archives
and Historical Library
Preserving the Past for the Present
The Covered Wagon, which is set in 1848, tells the story of a group of pioneers who made their way from Missouri, across the plains, through the mountains to Oregon and California. Real life and fictional characters from Clay County, Missouri are central to the story. Will Banion (the hero) leads the “Liberty Train.” He fought with Clay County hero Alexander Doniphan during the Mexican War. Molly Wingate (the heroine) is also from Liberty and taught school at the Clay Seminary. The scoundrel of the story, Sam Woodhull, is part of a second wagon train from Jackson County. Throughout the story, as the combined wagon train moves westward, Woodhull seeks to discredit Banion while both vie for Molly’s affections. This story will be of interest to anyone who wishes to gain insight regarding the dangers and hardships faced by the pioneers who made the trek from Missouri to the western territories across the Oregon Trail during those early days.This classic American novel, which was written by Emerson Hough and first published in 1922.