Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Adventure Begins

Our young friends, John Cooke, in his 17th year and Nellie Pemberton, only 13 years of age were on the adventure of a lifetime.
Of course, at the time it didn't seem so cool. Apparently, the British government allowed, if not promoted, this uncouth practice.
Ship captains made extra money by selling the slaves into indentured service. They were bought by landowners, farmers and plantation owners by "paying for their passage" and their room and board on the journey.  The British government thereby supplied "much needed" white slaves to the young colonies.
  Then the "servants" worked a pre-determined length of time in their masters employ after which they were free men and actually given a traditional gift. (It was tradition to give the ex-servants a cow or an ox, a barrel of corn, and  50 acres of land - each.)
As it must have seemed a horrible fate at the beginning, but it soon became apparent what a great opportunity they had been given. They were bought by local citizens who apparently treated them well, They stayed friends (after she must have forgiven him for the worst first date in history!) and after John finished his service he helped Nellie finish her contract. They were married and with at least 2 cows, a bunch of corn, and 100 acres of land they settled in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. It's beautiful now. Can you imagine what it was like when it was pristine? Yeah, they did alright.
After a few years service the Indian wars and the Revolutionary War (more about this later) they moved to what is now West Virginia and became the first settlers of Wyoming County. Together with their 4 sons they built a log cabin that survived until 1922.

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