Cover image for Betsy Zane, the rose of Fort Henry
Betsy Zane, the rose of Fort Henry
Durrant, Lynda, 1956-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Clarion Books, 2000.
Physical Description:
198 pages ; 22 cm
In 1781 twelve-year-old Elizabeth Zane, great-great-aunt of novelist Zane Grey, leaves Philadelphia to return to her brothers' homestead near Fort Henry in what is now West Virginia, where she plays an important role in the final battle of the American Revolution.
Reading Level:
750 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.9 6.0 44808.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.7 11 Quiz: 22888 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Thirteen-year-old Betsy Zane is bored with her privileged life in Philadelphia, bored with her great-aunt's stories about the old days, and bored with trying to be a lady. She longs to rejoin her brothers at the family homestead along the Ohio River, where she can finally be free to enjoy the unspoiled countryside that she has missed ever since she was forced to leave it as a child.

When her great-aunt dies, Betsy has the opportunity to return to her frontier home. She frees the house slaves, bundles up the few belongings she can carry, and sets off to find safe passage to the homestead she has dreamed about for so long. At Zane Station she finds much excitement--and some tough choices. Her new life forces her to think more deeply about slavery, loyalty, and family. Betsy begins a romance with a dashing young soldier, and takes part in the greatest adventure of her life, a heroic run for gunpowder--a historical event--that saves Fort Henry in what proved to be the final battle of the Revolutionary War.

Based on the true story of Betsy Zane, this exciting account of a real-life heroine's adventures on the western frontier is rich with vivid and carefully researched historical detail. Author's note, bibliography.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-8. At the end of our Revolutionary War, a young woman wages a private war for her own independence in this vivid, adventure-packed eye-opener by the author of Echohawk (1996) and Turtle Clan Journey (1999). Although Betsy has spent the six years since her parents' deaths in Philadelphia, she still aches to rejoin her five brothers in western Virginia. As soon as her Great Aunt Elizabeth dies, she snatches up a few possessions, makes her way along the buffalo trail to Pittsburgh, and takes a flatboat down the Ohio to Zane Station, near Fort Henry. Her "unladylike" behavior and sudden arrival in a war zone initially prompt a hostile reception from her brothers, but she shows her mettle during the ensuing siege of Fort Henry (the Revolution's final battle, as it turns out) by bringing in a load of gunpowder under the enemies' very rifles. As Durrant explains in a lengthy afterword, nearly all of her plot and cast have been drawn from historical records. She has delved deeply into the complex, shifting relations between European settlers and native populations, and she depicts a wide range of attitudes among the Zane family members. As Betsy battles ingrained prejudices against women and indigenous peoples, she learns to see her own family's slaves in a new light, especially after traveling with a close-mouthed white family, the Crofters, who turn out to be fugitive slaves escaped from the mines in Scotland. Written as a first-person, present-tense narrative, this takes readers at a gallop from Philadelphia's fetid streets to the deep woods along the Ohio, pausing for steady looks at contemporary attitudes and tracking a strong-willed citizen of our young country through more than one trial by fire. Source list. John Peters

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-A compelling work of period fiction strongly rooted in fact. During Revolutionary War-era America, 12-year-old Betsy Zane lives with an elderly aunt in Philadelphia. Sent there by her brothers to protect her from her war-torn native Virginia, Betsy finds Philadelphia unbearably filthy and generally unsatisfactory. When her aunt dies suddenly, the girl finds herself all alone with few options, but nevertheless musters the pluck and composure to arrange her aunt's funeral, dispose of her family's wealth, and assemble a travel party to escort her back to Virginia. The journey is eye-opening and exciting, and Betsy is thrilled to be reunited with her long-lost family. Once there, the excitement builds even further to a thrilling climax in which Betsy saves the day by completing a successful run for gunpowder, sustaining Fort Henry through the final battle of the war. Exhaustively researched, Durrant's story successfully brings the remarkable Zane family members to life. Unfortunately, she has trouble letting their exploits speak for themselves, and instead takes unnecessary pains to ensure that their remarkable qualities don't go unnoticed. She needn't have bothered; the Zanes' admirable reserves of grit and resilience are impossible to ignore. Young readers may have to remind themselves that the brave protagonist really was a mere child who risked her life in a bloody battle rather than surrender.-Catherine T. Quattlebaum, DeKalb County Public Library, Atlanta, GA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.