Late Sooner Study
Guide for Teachers - Book
Late Sooner is a historical fiction based on the author’s
great-grandfather’s diary. Sanford Deering wrote one line
a day and settled in the Oklahoma Territory on the Unclaimed Lands
in 1889 with his wife, Lucy and two children.
Famine, prairie fires, tornadoes, death, and discouragement buffet
this family while they attempt to carve out a life from the red
clay of the Oklahoma prairie.
OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT THE LATE SOONER
is a tale richly deserving a read by those of us now enjoying the
opportunities and development of this state."
—The Daily Oklahoman (See
the review online)
“Sally Jadlow took
her great-grandfather’s diary and wove it into an incredibly
beautiful story of hope, passion, adventure, trust and faith. This
is one book that will always be near to my heart.”
—Nelda Brown, Past President, Logan County, Oklahoma Genealogical
“After the bugle
sounded on April 22, 1889, there were still pockets of free land
available. The Late Sooner is the story of one family of homesteaders
who claimed some of that land despite extreme hardships, trials,
and grief. It is important to record stories for future generations.
Sally Jadlow has accomplished this very well.”
—Don Odom, Junior High School History Teacher (retired),
THE LATE SOONER
1. Identify three problems that are presented in this chapter.
2. Was owning land important to Sanford? Why?
3. Did Lucy have facts or projections about life in Oklahoma?
4. If you had been in Lucy’s position, what would your
feelings have been?
5. What can you surmise about Lucy’s personality from the
statement, “She could stare down a Diamondback Rattler”?
6. What clues does the author give to help you draw conclusions
about the relationship between Lucy and Sanford?
1. Why do you think Lucy believed that if Sanford hadn’t
left, Frankie might not have died?
2. Did Sanford accept this belief?
1. Compare and contrast the ways Lucy and Sanford handled their
grief over Frankie’s death.
2. What is the significance of Sanford’s nickname for Lucy?
List three images this name brings to mind.
1. What conclusions can you reach about the spirituality of Lucy
2. Sanford was, once again, absent when Lucy needed him at the
birth of their daughter. What was her attitude?
3. Describe Lucy’s relationship with her father, with Mary,
and with Hannah.
1. What was your reaction to Sanford’s request that Lucy’s
dad put seeds on Frankie’s grave?
2. Why did Lucy want to move back to Walker from her hometown
3. What evidence do you note of Lucy’s changing Christian
relationship during the funeral of Molly’s baby and at Frankie’s
4. What clue does the author give concerning H.W., Lucy’s
1. Explain Sanford’s statement, “My bones tell me
it’s going to be a good day tomorrow.”
2. What is a root cellar?
3. What personality type is Sanford? What synonyms could be given
for his “itch”/
4. Melinda sees the other side of the coin that Lucy doesn’t
see. How does the author reveal this?
5. Would you value a single homemade gift at Christmas? Give
two pros and cons.
1. What was the men’s attitude concerning women having
the right to vote? Did Lucy consider the possibility of women
2. Who was President of the U.S. at this time?
3. What means of travel did people use to arrive at the border
of the territory?
1. After reading this chapter, would you take for granted a piece
of fried chicken? Why?
2. Lucy and Sanford’s new baby was a boy. Were boys more
important than girls to a homesteading family?
1. Did Sanford have doubts about moving to the new territory?
What were his fears?
2. List reasons Lucy did not want to go. Do you identify with
her or with Sanford?
3. What were Lucy’s feelings after Sanford boarded the
1. When Sanford reached the Oklahoma Territory, he saw people
living in dugouts. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of
2. What would be the equivalent of Rebekah’s quilting bee
for today’s woman?
3. How did Sanford and Uriah (do you know the derivation of this
name?) know where to dig water well?
4. Who is a water watcher?
1. Sanford enjoyed a good meal of ham, milk and blackberry pie
for two bits (25 cents). His filing fee was $14.00. In today’s
economy, what would be the value of each of these expenses?
2. Sanford is many miles away and is consumed with staking a
claim, yet is always thinking of his family. Tell how the author
lets this be known.
3. What are some of the ways Sanford and Uriah depend on each
1. What caused Lucy to change her mind about moving to Oklahoma
2. List the preparations that needed to be made before the move.
3. There was some tension over the decision about what to take
and what to sell. Each person had his or her own perspective.
Explain each point of view.
4. What does “much obliged” mean?
1. There were disputes over claims and “claim jumpers”
in the territory. Lucy and Sanford had such an encounter. Retell
1. Sanford’s diary entry simply states, “Nora got
lost today”. Explain the panic and fears Lucy experienced.
Were they valid?
1. How is Sanford equipping his claim to become self-sufficient?
2. Explain how a sod buster works.
1. Since timber was scarce, what was used for fuel for the stove?
2. Why did H.W. have a house built of lumber rather than sod?
3. What was your reaction to Lucy’s encounter with a snake
and mice in the house?
1. What was Nora’s “fuzzy bug”?
2. What does Lucy mean by a civilized home?
1. Fire is always devastating. Why was it particularly hard on
1. How did Sanford prepare plaster for the house? Why did Lucy
want this done?
2. Luther Peek offered a patch of his land for a burying place.
This cemetery is still in use today. Do you know where it is located?
1. Sanford was quick to help Sam in his time of need. What was
2. Do you think being turned down for a loan was a sign that
they should return to Missouri?
3. What statement causes Lucy to, once again, comment on Mary’s
ability to see the positive sides of things? Does Lucy learn from
1. Most of us have not experienced famine or the extreme lack
Lucy and her family endured. How did this affect her health?
2. How does Mary make lye soap? What “necessities”
of cleanliness and grooming are available today that would probably
seem like miracles to Lucy?
1. Is Lucy able to keep the household running smoothly by herself?
How does H.W. help her? List the jobs that need to be done.
1. Explain the cause of Lucy’s death.
1. What are the signs that Sanford is grieving?
2. Is Sanford able to handle taking care of the children and
the sod house? How did Lucy manage to do everything-often alone
when Sanford was gone?
3. What does Lucy seem to say to him in his dream?
1. What is seed money?
2. Why did the settlers petition Washington for seed money?
3. In what way do people today petition Washington for “seed
1. Mary has headaches and Freddie isn’t doing well. What
help would be available to them today?
2. Name three things planting a peach orchard symbolize.
3. How did the neighbors help Susan?
4. Explain Ukiah’s avoidance of Sanford.
1. Sanford states that his dream has been a long time coming
and having the saw is one more step in getting it in place. Explain.
2. List the many accomplishments and improvements Sanford has
made in his claim.
3. What does Sanford now cry out for?
1. Why is Mary unable to continue to care for the children? To
whom does Sanford turn for help?
2. Do you think Sanford loved Susan or just needed help?
3. In your opinion, who contributed more to building a homestead-men
1. After five hard years, Sanford was able to apply for a patent
on his homestead. Do you think it was worth it?
2. What caused Freddie’s death?
3. How does the idea to return to Missouri come?
1. How does Sam’s death in Missouri change the lives of
Sanford and his family?
2. Does Sanford agree to move back just to help Nellie?
3. Name other reasons for moving.
4. What complications are to be overcome?
5. Does Sanford believe he is guided by “Providence”?
1. Do we have an ongoing obligation to pioneers to continue the
betterment of Oklahoma?
2. How can this be accomplished by individual, group and government
Check out Sally Jadlow's
Blog for more interesting facts about this era.