Thursday, December 01, 2005

Beautiful...Tangled Roots - Ch. 1

Chapter 1
1790
“Son, look around you and observe all that your father has gained for you and your posterity this day,” John Edward Wainwright said proudly to his eldest son as they made their way back home after trading with a local tribe of Indians.
The two males sat side by side in one of the sturdy wagons that had made their family wealthy ever since the first Wainwright came to this country, which was back when the colonies were still under British rule.

“But, Papa, what about the Indians we just saw?” John Nathan asked with his trademark blue-green Wainwright eyes rapidly filling with fear on that early dawn autumn morning. Although today’s encounter had gone peacefully, he’d heard horrifying stories about the red-skinned people that had populated this area for many generations past.

“Never you mind about them. They will all go away in time,” John Edward replied reassuringly. Even now he recalled some of the treaties their new nation had enacted recently with the first people of this great land gave him this reassurance. And what the government hadn’t been able to do; several enterprising settlers like Mr. Wainwright had seen to in order to obtain more land for their families.

John Edward had not only bartered for the additional land he now owned in southern Georgia with horses and wagons, he’d given the Indians a little something extra in the form of tainted blankets. Those smallpox ridden blankets were Mr. Wainwright’s insurance policy that the Creeks would never cause him or his kin any future problems. Especially since that particular Old World malady was known for wiping out whole Indian villages at once, leaving no one left to bury the dead.

Even still, ten-year-old John Nathan’s fear only subsided just a bit at his father’s attempt to reassure him. In fact, that lingering anxiety showed up in his next words. “I hope they leave before I grow to manhood, Papa. I do not want to fight Indians.”

John Edward’s eyes flashed blistering aqua at his son’s fear-filled words. “Snatch the fear out of your heart this instant, boy!” he said in a fierce tone that caused his baritone voice to deepen even more. “I will not have you afraid of no Indians. Your papa made a way for us to have this land and I am counting on you and your seed to keep it long after I am gone. By any means necessary, you hear me, boy?”

“Yes, sir.” John Nathan immediately sat taller in his seat. He recognized this tone from his authoritative father as one of great displeasure. And one thing the obedient lad hated to do was displease the man that was held in such high esteem by everyone they knew. Well…by every white person they knew since the Wainwrights only dealt equitably with their own kind.

“No Indians will ever have this land again,” John Nathan added with more bravado than he felt.
Suddenly John Edward’s eyes softened. His voice did, too, as he smiled at his courageous son.
“That’s my boy. With an attitude like that, I will be able to surely rest in my grave when the time comes.”

******

Unfortunately for John Nathan, his father’s time came seven years later at the hands of those same Indians that John Edward double-crossed with contaminated blankets. If only he’d been a fair barterer, the Creeks would have allowed him and his family to remain on the land peacefully. But since he’d been just another ecunnaunuxulgee, those warriors who’d survived the pox had ambushed John Edward one cloudy day and scalped him.

Although ecunnaunuxulgee was a challenging word to say, it correctly described Mr. Wainwright as one of the greedy people who wanted the Indians’ land by any means necessary. Thus, John Edward had been a prime candidate for the particular brand of punishment that he ultimately received. Fortunately, the Wainwright land and homestead were not burned due to a torrential-like rain that began the day of the scalping and lasted for a full week. That seven-day downpour was long enough to cool the offended Indians’ fury somewhat, yet not entirely.

As a result of that tragedy, John Nathan had to grow into his full manhood a lot sooner. He immediately took to wife a young, local, blond-haired, blue-eyed girl that he’d long been smitten with and together they helped his widowed mother to raise the rest of his Wainwright siblings. Those siblings consisted of two younger brothers and a sister. Fortunately, the Wainwright family was not without financial resources at that time. Thus they were able to survive and keep the family’s wagon-making business going for many years to come.

Despite his father’s death, John Nathan was also determined to keep their land and so began many years of sometimes violent conflict between the Wainwrights and the Indians around them. Although at first he felt and truly was outnumbered, the determined young man had the sense of mind to use his resources to bring others on his side. In fact, by the time John Nathan had the last of his five sons in 1816, he’d actually financed the building of several homesteads around him in order to attract likeminded individuals.

Soon more white settlers arrived, some on their own resources, others with the help of Wainwright money. Eventually a strong, Indian-loathing township appropriately named Wainwrighton, Georgia was born. On top of that, the general populace of the state as a whole had expanded. Between 1790 and 1830, the population of Georgia had increased six-fold as settlers flocked to the area. This created even more of a problem for the area Indians and many were forced ionto the frontier. By 1827, most of the Creeks were gone, yet the ones connected to the Wainwright land lingered a bit longer. When the majority of them finally did leave, they had left with a promise of future vengeance.

John Nathan felt no remorse for the people who’d killed his father, stolen livestock from him, and burned much of his land over the years. And when congress passed the Indian Removal Act in 1830, he praised President Jackson for quickly signing the bill into law, despite the bill’s opposition from a notable Tennessee Congressman named Davy Crockett. Despite the fact that the other Indians being removed had done him or his family no wrong. In particular, John Nathan never had any problems with the Cherokee people who had adapted and reshaped their culture to many of the white man’s ways, even coming up with a constitution much like the U.S.’s and converting to Christianity.

Yet despite all that, the Cherokee Indians still lost most of itstheir ancestral lands. Their loss was largely due to land-hungry settlers like the deceased John Edward Wainwright, a former Indian fighter who became president (Andrew Jackson), an influx of immigrants in the area, the emergence of the cotton crop, and the discovery of gold in the state of Georgia area.

Unfortunately for John Nathan, all of the his years he spent hating and fighting Indians eventually took quite a toll on his health and on his finances over the years. As a result, by the time he took his last breath in the spring of 1840, all the Wainwrights had left of any worldly value was their land, their prestigious name, and a city named after them.
(c) 2005 Suprina Frazier

3 comments:

Count said...

That's pretty deep. Is it a true story??

Suprina said...

No, only the struggles the slaves and slaveholders went through are true.

Suprina said...

Oh, yeah, the historical facts are true, as well. A lot of research went into this project, so don't be surprised if you see stuff that drives you back to your history books.