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Conspiracy on the Ohio
By Thomas M. McIntire
E-Book (available as PDF files)
About the Author
Island Girl is a work of historical fiction that is wrapped around the conspiracy between the Blennerhassett family and Aaron Burr. It is set on Blennerhassett Island that is located just south of Parkersburg, WV in the Ohio River.
CHAPTER - 1 THE RIVER CROSSING AND SETTLING IN The bright April sun shined down upon Lilly Eckles as she stood waiting at the landing for the boat coming to take her to a new phase of her life. The year was 1802 and Lilly was looking for-ward to the barge coming to pick her up carrying her to this new beginning. She was leaving her old life behind for a life she hoped would be more pleasant than the past years had been. She had accepted a position as the nurse, or more properly the caregiver, to the Blennerhassett children starting today. At 19 she might be considered a bit young to take upon such a task, but as the oldest of six children she had plenty of experience in dealing with little ones and had survived the interview process with Mrs. Blennerhassett a few days ago. As she thought about the upcoming assignment she could not help but hope that it led somewhere other than to the bleak future that her previous 18 years had shown her. Life was hard on an Ohio River Valley farm in the 1800’s and the life that her mother had known on the farm was not what she wanted for herself. Up at dawn, head to the fields and work until dark beside her hus-band and any other children old enough to take a share of the chores at hand was not her idea of a life. She had after all, fin-ished high school, no mean feat at that time in rural America, and wanted to see more of the world and the good things she had read so much about. Her world to date had included only the area around Newport in Western Virginia, and the town across the river, Belpre, Ohio. Both were sleepy little towns that primarily were the centers of commerce for the farms in the area. They were similar to many other small towns in the United States at the time, as they were slow paced and isolated and this was not what Lilly had in mind for her life. Lilly had discovered the outside world not through travel, but through books. She was a voracious reader who had read just about everything that she could lay her hands on and through this pastime, she had become familiar with places such as New York, Philadelphia and Boston. She dreamed often of finding her way to one of these areas to spend her life. Her wide ranging education through these books had led to her selection as the new teacher for the island. Her mind turned to how angry her father had been when she told him of her plans. She knew he needed the help on the farm and besides she had walked away from the proposal of a good man, Ben Tate, who her father felt of as almost a son. But she knew that she wanted more from life than any Ohio Valley farm had to offer. Her Poppa had argued against the idea of moving out to the island but he had finally relented as he did so often to his firstborn and only daughter. Her Mother had been all for the idea because she knew that this would be Lilly’s only shot at a life off the farm. Lilly also was aware that men found her attractive so she never doubted that she could always find a husband if she wanted one. She knew her blonde curls and blues eyes drew men to her im-mediately whenever she desired, but now she knew that she needed to see more of the world and learn about things other than how to milk the cow or hoe the corn. No, this was the right choice for her, of that she was certain. Her thoughts were interrupted by the sounds of splashing on the river. As she looked up, the barge belonging to the Blenner-hassett estate was just pulling into the landing ably manned by Moses, the slave assigned to the boats. She had never met him before but she had heard of him and she read him for the kindly old gentleman he was. The barge was a flat bottomed boat that was used to ferry sup-plies and visitors from the shore to the island. Since the mansion was located on an island it required everything to be ferried across the river. As a result the boats used were not like many boats of the time, but more like a large raft that still could be propelled by one slave. “Mornin’ Miss. You must be Miss Lilly,” said Moses with a smile. She smiled back and replied, “Yes, that is me.” He stepped off the barge and grabbed her valise that contained pretty much all she had in the world and placed it on the floor of the barge. Then he came over and gave her his hand as she stepped aboard the barge. She walked over to the seat and eager-ly sat down for the short ride from the riverbank at Newport to the island. Settled in for the ride she took the time to enjoy the scenery around her. The trees were coming into bloom and the signs of life were everywhere in the world of the Ohio Valley. She rel-ished the thoughts of spring and the good fortune that it brought to their community. The farms were beginning to come back to life after the long winter’s nap and the wildlife was beginning to show signs of new life as well. That morning on her way to the landing sitting beside her Poppa in the farm wagon she had seen a doe accompanied by two new fawns and she took that as a sign that her life would soon be blossoming as well.
Thomas M. McIntire is a retired Pharmacist and this is his first novel.
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