It will soon be 261 years since my characters from SCATTERED SEEDS boarded The Charming Hannah in Derry, Ireland and set sail for Philadelphia.
Here’s the letter that started it all, written from one brother to another:
Forgive the quality of writing, as I do so in haste with a dying fire, a bad quill, and the last of my ink. I pray you are well, but if you are not—and judging from the number of Ulstermen alighting on these shores, I fear you may not be—I implore you to consider selling up and coming to Pennsylvania. There is much to gain here, including land!
I myself possess the most glorious 100 acres of land you have ever seen. It lies northwest of the Kittatinny. The mountain itself is a wall of forested rock, but if a man can elude the authorities and manage the arduous climb, he is rewarded with fertile valleys sprawling between an endless series of ridges. There are Ulstermen here now in every valley, living in secret, and if those tenacious souls can hang on but a year, I firmly believe they will have a chance to apply for ownership of the lands they now occupy.
I would be remiss if I did not warn of the impending violence here. Rumour has it that the French are building forts from New Orleans to Canada. Should they succeed, they will cut off British expansion to the west, and mayhap push us eastward until we have no choice but to board a ship and sail home. Take comfort, dear brother; I and my new countrymen—a rough and hardy lot—will not submit to a French yoke! I go to the Ohio Valley now, with others, to do my part. My cabin along the Cocolamus Creek, a humble abode, will be left unattended, and I fear it shall fall into disrepair or another man’s hands. You and Elizabeth would do me a great service by coming to inhabit it. Bring Henry and the rest of the countless brats you’ve no doubt sired since your last letter. You’ll need every one of their hands, but oh, Edward, what a feeling to close your eyes at night knowing you and yours will be the ones to reap the benefit of your own labour. I simply cannot describe to you the joy that accompanies the liberation found in Penn’s woods. You must come experience it for yourself.
Make your way from Philadelphia to Lancaster and from thence west to Harris’s and into Sherman’s Valley. I have drawn a map from there. Do not stray from it, no matter what advice folks give you along the way. Trust the traders whose names I have marked with X’s. Many will be away trading, and those who are at home will not only turn a blind eye to your trespassing, but give you succour also. They hate the English nearly as much as they hate the French.
You will think the Injuns scarce in these parts, but they are not. They are merely invisible. Thankfully, they are not soundless. Their milk-curdling shrieks are hard to miss, particularly since they are often uttered while running at you with a hatchet! If you see any, try not to shite your breeks. Just mention my name. (They like me well enough.) Do not come in winter. Chop wood straight away no matter what season you land—you’ll need every stick of it and probably more. Horses are worthless in the backcountry for now, and too hard to keep. An ox is much better, and you can eat him when he has served his purpose—if the Injuns do not get him first. (Here I jest, for the wild men have not yet developed a taste for beef. Can you believe they prefer bear meat and even dog?)
God willing, my forge and smokehouse will still be standing when you get here. I’m burying my cauldron, an anvil, and some bar iron dead center between the three giant buttonwood trees south of the cabin, ten strides away from the water at the big bend in the creek. Come before it rusts to nothing—and before the field grows up in saplings. One of the trees mentioned above has as hollow butt large enough to stand up in. I’ll grease up a rifle and lead and stuff it up into that tree, along with some tools, so don’t buy any before coming over the Kittatinny. At most, I would bring a hand axe, some ground seed, and a tinderbox. If Injuns find you, you’re better off unarmed anyway.
Sell your wig in Philadelphia. No one here wears them.
I’ll be back to the cabin in two years’ time, and I hope to see you and Elizabeth there with your brood. Tell Sorley to shove his rent straight up his arse, and get yourselves on the first boat out of Derry, even if you must indenture your wains for a time. There truly is no better way of securing an education and a trade for them.
One last thing. If you come in summer, watch for serpents in the rocks. Some of them will kill you dead. Also, there are turtles in the Juniata River and in the Cocolamus Creek that will happily remove your dangly bits. I did not know this when I came here, and I’m missing half a finger. That turtle was tasty.
God be with you, brother.
SCATTERED SEEDS is available for download now from Amazon, thanks to Soul Mate Publishing. Escape with Edward and Henry this summer! https://www.amazon.com/Scattered-Seeds-Julie-Doherty-ebook/dp/B01E056H1Q
Watch the book trailer for SCATTERED SEEDS here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNzrVFnl9Ts