A prequel to the NBC television series "Bonanza" (1959-1973), chronicling the early years of widower Ben Cartwright and his young sons. The family buys a small piece of scrub in the wilds of the Nevada Territory in 1849. Adam, the eldest, is 21 years old, Hoss, 17 and Little Joe, 12. Together the family has to make a go of it against the odds. Carlos Rivera De Vega, a young rancher whose land was taken away from him in the Mexican-American War, is indebted to Ben for saving him from being shot by two drunken townspeople from Carson City.