Larry Wallbertson, or Luckless Larry, as he was known by the citizens of Independence, Missouri, was notoriously unlucky, and had been since he was a child. From a young age, he sought solace in the soothing confines of the kitchen, and learned how to cook very well, even better than Ma. Unlike his three older brothers, Larry clearly was not destined for any trade in particular, despite Pa's numerous attempts to teach him one, and he accepted working in the Wallbertson Family General Store as his life's work. In 1849, when the rumor that James Marshall found gold in the California Republic was confirmed and the news reached Larry's small town, even he caught a little gold fever. He ignored the townsfolk's palpable lack of faith in his abilities, and the taunts of the perpetual bullies, Stu and Stan Ralston, and decided to take on the daunting and dangerous, two-thousand-mile Overland Trail to find his fortune in gold. Life in the gold country was exceedingly hard, and few miners truly found success. Larry was faced with physical and mental challenges and survived in a very unconventional way.