Ohio, 1838: James and Sadie Goodenough have settled in the Black Swamp, planting apple trees to claim the land as their own. As fever picks off their children, husband and wife take solace in separate comforts.
Fifteen years later their youngest son, Robert, is drifting through gold rush California. When he finds steady work for a plant collector, peace seems finally to be within reach. But the past is never really past, and one day Robert is forced to confront the brutal reason he left behind everything he loved.