The series is set in the 1870s. In an attempt to acquire the gold of a mining camp run by frontiersman John Michael Murphy, Paul Garrett, a greedy town baron, orders his men to destroy the camp. While the children of the camp are attending a Halloween party, Garrett's men raid the camp and kill everyone in sight. Murphy and his partner, both knocked unconscious in the battle, survive.
Later, when Murphy learns that the now orphaned children are to be sent to a work house, he disguises himself as a priest. With the help of Mae Woodward, the school teacher, he sets up the Gold Hill School (an orphanage) in the town of Jackson. The series follows the adventures of "Father" Murphy and the children he now watches over.