Plank Road Summer

Plank Road Summer, by Hilda and Emily Demuth

Plank Road Summer
A Midwestern middle-grade historical novel
by Hilda and Emily Demuth

Crickhollow Books • 2009
Trade Softcover • 176 pages • 5.5″ x 8.5″
Juvenile Fiction / Chapter Book / Ages 8–12
$13.95 • ISBN 978-1-933987-06-4

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Underground Railroad
(Fugitive Slaves en route to Canada, Fugitive Slave Law)
Great Lakes region
19th-century Plank Roads
Early County Fairs and County Inns
Rural Pioneer Life and Immigrant Heritage (Cornish)


Plank Road Winter
(sequel to Plank Road Summer)

A great choice for young readers who love historical fiction, and for teachers wanting to integrate a novel into classroom studies of the pioneer era. Transports readers back to the sights and sounds, and the dangers and joys, of Wisconsin, 1852.
– Kathleen Ernst, award-winning children’s book author

A well-researched story of 1850s life in southern Wisconsin – a pioneer-history gem.”
– Jerry Apps, author of Old Farm: A History, and In a Pickle: A Family Farm Story

“A historical adventure that young readers will relish.
Midwest Book Review

“The Demuth sisters have very skillfully woven strands of historical events and life in the mid-1800s into a powerful, memorable story.
– Dick Ammann, archivist, Racine Heritage Museum


This is a middle-grade historical novel, set in the 1850s, a story of two girls’ friendship, with an Underground Railroad sub-plot.

In 1852, the Racine & Rock River Plank Road provides the main route for wagons to transport wheat from Wisconsin homesteads to the Racine harbor on Lake Michigan. The McEachrons run a tollgate for the plank-road company, set at the edge of their farm. On a neighboring homestead, the Mathers run a country inn. Two 13-year-olds, best friends Katie McEachron and Florence Mather, experience a new and exciting world one summer as the plank road brings strangers to their dinner tables and the plight of runaway slaves to their consciences.

Katie McEachron, the second youngest of five McEachron children, is a forthright, impulsive girl who has not yet learned the importance of keeping silent.

Her friend Florence Mather, a solemn and hardworking girl, is an only child of Cornish heritage. Florence has an eager mind for books and a love of poetry, but her mother is less interested in Florence’s education than in having more help at the inn.

One day in May a stranger arrives at the Mather Inn. The visit of the mysterious stranger launches a string of events that will make this a most unforgettable summer for the two girls.


Hilda and Emily Demuth are sisters who grew up in the locale depicted in the book, where they heard stories of the old plank road from descendants of the early settlers. Hilda Demuth, a high school English teacher, lives near Valparaiso, Indiana. She is also the author of Kingdom of the Birds, a historical novel for young readers set in Germany in 1521, at the time of Martin Luther. Emily Demuth, a school library/media aide and freelance writer, lives in Elmhurst, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.