A Story Quilt: The Tranes on the Underground Railroad
It was actually together that the men decided to return to Jamestown to take issue with the land company that had sold the tract to Captain Ballew. The agent had a solution: "Buy slaves to clear and terrace the acres; then, you can plant grass and grain to raise livestock and feed horses."
Now this was a completely new notion to George. "Slaves?" He couldn't believe his ears. "My father would never have approved of enslaving men."
"It's the only way to get ahead in America," the agent barked. "It's up to you, but you'll take my advice if you're smart. Otherwise, there's nothing I can do. A deal is a deal."
For a week, the Scotsman brooded over the matter while he tarried in Jamestown with his men. He thought of returning to Scotland to the farms and mills his older brothers had inherited. The thought made him almost ill. He decided that he could not go back - no matter what."
"Work for my brothers?" he asked himself. "I'd be no more than an indenture myself."
The more he thought, the more he could find no alternative to buying slaves if he wanted to claim his American inheritance. Half-heartedly, with more than a little remorse, George bought ten slaves at auction in Jamestown to work alongside the Scottish immigrants.
Among them were three women: one was a young mulatto woman called Lucy, who couldn't have been more than fifteen; another was Sena, a thirty-ish, portly black woman who was presented on the block as a fabulous cook; the third was a portly grounds servant named Bess, who was advertized as an excellent gardener and herbalist.
In an effort to clear his conscience, George told himself that he would treat these ten American slaves as indentures, that he would release the slaves at the same time his Scotsmen finished their seven years with him. This notion of freeing the slaves after seven years was a private goal; but, so far as anyone else knew, they were slaves in the true sense of the word - for life.
Watch as a new American Spirit tumbles into the Riley's Mill community on the heels of Scottish immigrants, and a family of Virginia slaves gets on board the Underground Railroad for a daring ride into the Indiana heartland.