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Three generations before, Grandpa Spencer homesteaded a mountain in the Grand Tetons of Wyoming and left the land to his heirs, but eight of his nine grandsons eventually sold their inheritance. The exception, Clay Spencer, a quarry worker, lives in the valley with his wife, Olivia, and their nine children. The oldest son, Clayboy, is about to graduate from high school, a feat no other Spencer has ever accomplished. Because of the boy's intense desire to learn, his teacher, Miss Parker, nominates him for a scholarship at the state university, but the only opening turns out to be a divinity scholarship, which the church-shunning Clay opposes. When Clayboy's application is rejected because he lacks knowledge of Latin, he agrees to attend church every Sunday in return for Preacher Goodson's service as a Latin tutor. While studying at the new town library, Clayboy falls in love with Claris Coleman, the wealthy daughter of Clay's employer. Meanwhile, tragedy strikes the Spencer family when Grandpa is crushed to death by a fallen tree. The university finally accepts Clayboy's application, but there is no scholarship money available. Realizing that he must sacrifice for the good of future Spencers, Clay sells the piece of land on which he had been building a "dreamhouse" for Olivia for 20 years. In September, the family gathers to bid farewell to Clayboy as he leaves for college.