The Rocks – Frederick Morse

This was a great period story set in 1853-1857. It concerns a young man named Olin Collins; a 14 year old orphan who has been living in the local library since his mom died when he was nine. His aunt works at the library and had no room for him at home. Olin quickly became the most important person in his small town, making money to support himself, and using the knowledge he learned from reading books to help others in his town.

The Rocks Cover Image

He managed to save enough money to buy what was believed, by the adults, to be a worthless piece of land, full of huge rocks that would cost too much money to move. Gathering up several other orphan boys who got by on their wits, he created a town, “The Rocks”, that every single adult came to rely on for income or other necessities. Using what he learned from the books in the library, he managed to break the rocks, sell them to the town mason, tap the trees for sap to sell to the grocer, and use the timber he cut to build small houses for the orphans and himself.

There is a lot to this story, and many detailed scientific experiments. This is how Olin made his money; showing the men in town things that sounded impossible, but were perfectly easy to do because of science. He would charge a fee to see the demonstration, and they would pay it.

This story also touches on real issues that were going on in the states in this pre-Civil War era. Slaves were being transported to Canada where the laws could not force them back to their owners, states were fighting each other, and no one was sure what the future would hold.

If you enjoy history stories or period novels, I think this is one you would enjoy as well. If you give it a try, let me know how you liked it!

As you may recall, I reviewed another book by Mr. Morse, called “The Scimitar and the Glory Boxes”. This was the review I sent on to him only to find out that he had recently passed away. I will be passing this review on to his Widow as I promised I would, and will be reading another of his books in the near future. You can find that first review here:


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