Peyton Cockrill Lewis has brought early Tennessee history to vigorous life in this novel based on the daunting adventures of her great-great-great grandmother, Ann Robertson Johnson Cockrill.

In December 1779, Ann, a widow with three young daughters, sets off with the Donelson party from East Tennessee to join her brothers in a wild, new land on the Cumberland River. The group traveled by boat — believed to be a safe route — only to discover that their map had underestimated distance, the rivers were wild and dangerous, the weather unbearably cold, and Indian tribes were waiting to attack. Miraculously, a large number managed to survive and help found what is today Nashville, Tennessee. And in the midst of all of her troubles, Ann manages to fall in love.

It is an unforgettable tale of the physical and moral courage necessary to carve civilization out of the wilderness.

Listen to a Real Audio stream of Peyton talking about her book on the Diane Rehm Show, June 30, 2005.

Read the First Chapter
Buy the Book
About Peyton
Portrait of Peyton Lewis

Perilous Journey is as good as it gets. It's a captivating history story but it's also a compelling story of human courage and emotion. The writing is first rate, the pacing sings. This is a treat of a book.”

—Jim Lehrer, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer


How easy it is to think of Nashville, Tennessee as the home of country music; how easy to forget that Nashville was also America’s first English settlement west of the Alleghenies, settled by some of our bravest against incalculable odds. No book has captured the drama of that settlement quite like Peyton Lewis’s Perilous Journey.”

—Roger Mudd, The History Channel


The men and women who founded our proud state of Tennessee were people of great courage and valor. Their sacrifices provided the foundation for all the accomplishments that have followed. Peyton Lewis has told this story in a way that does justice to their memory, and I hope these dramatic scenes will stay with readers long after they close the covers of this book.”

—Senator Lamar Alexander, Former Governor of Tennessee