Time: This would be post the Fugitive Slave Act, pre-Civil War. 1855, maybe?
Part Two: I want one my characters to be a white man who has fathered a child with a slave that he doesn't own. He's too poor to buy the slave or the baby (and the owner doesn't want to sell), so he helps the slave escape with the baby. He makes it to one of the free western states/territories, although the adult slave is either killed or recaptured on the way. I want the original owner to send slave hunters after the baby, creating the adventure of the story.
I've researched the basic history of slavery, fugitive slaves, etc., but I'm wondering - it seems like the popular direction for slaves to run was North, rather than West. I haven't really found a reason for this - can anyone help with that? Also, are there any flaws with my general idea, would you say?
Part Two: Now that the mother is gone, the father needs to find a way to feed the baby. I want this to be a serious challenge for him, so:
- at what age would it no longer be a big deal for a baby to be weaned? I know that six months is a rough milepost for starting kids on solids, but if it was necessary, could a kid be started on solids earlier than that? How much earlier?
- assuming that it WAS too early for solids, what would the baby do if you tried to feed solid foods (I'm thinking corn meal or bread soaked in loads of water until it's a thin paste, maybe?)? Just spit it out, or swallow it and get sick, or...? What about if no bread/cereals were available? At what age would a baby be able to handle chewed-up and spat out jerky? How about fresh (cooked) game? If the baby is too young for solids, is it completely ridiculous to try feeding it the blood of a freshly-killed animal? I mean, gross, I know, but ...liquid. Maybe they could boil the blood, first?
Obviously the dad will seek out a wet nurse/milk animal as soon as possible, but the plan is for the baby and father to be completely isolated in a mountain cabin (snowed in) for about a week.
Terms searched: breast milk substitutes, historic baby food, pap, etc.