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Free in Chains
Mary B. Kegley, author, attorney, and researcher has completed her historical novel, Free in Chains, set in Southwest Virginia.
Based on a true story filed in court papers, Free in Chains tells the unimaginable story of an Indian slave, Rachel Findlay. Although Indian slavery was illegal in Virginia at the time and Rachel was freed from those chains in Williamsburg in 1773, she was taken from Powhatan County to the frontier of Virginia before she could be truly free. There, her master, Mitchell Clay, sold her and her daughter as Negro slaves to John Draper, even though he knew they were entitled to their freedom. In what is now Pulaski County, Rachel was held illegally in slavery until 1820 when she was about sixty-seven years old. Her persistence in obtaining her freedom brought her to a seven-year court battle which eventually gave forty-two of her descendants the right to live in freedom.
Kegley has combined her background in law and history with a detailed knowledge of life in 18th century Southwest Virginia to create this fictional account of Rachel's life. You'll find it a suspenseful, intriguing and interesting saga of Rachel Findlay's long and difficult journey to freedom.
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Price: IN VIRGINIA:$16.14; OUT OF STATE: $15.50
NEWS: A descendant of Rachel contacted me and he has proved his Indian heritage by DNA.
After the book was printed I learned that James and Chance were not teenagers as I thought, but were only six and eight years old when kidnapped by Henry Clay the elder. Their ages were recorded in Henrico County in 1712.
Rockingham County census of 1840 has two free women of color, one named Rachel, the other Judy. Are these the characters of the lawsuit and the novel?
LETTERS FROM THE VIRGINIA MOUNTAINS, a work of "factual fiction," by Mary B. Kegley
The characters of this new book were early citizens who wrote their personal stories in detailed letters, revealing their innermost thoughts. The stories of their daily life, complete with fears, loneliness, joys, disappointments and plans for the future, that sometimes did not develop the way they expected, were written regularly to relatives who did not live in the area. The three women, Sarah Herbert, Rachel Dobler Marshall and Judy Findlay, and the three men, James McGavock, Jacob Kettering and the Reverend John Stanger, each gave insight into life in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia in the early days. The first letter is dated 1763 and the last 1848. During this eighty-five-year period, some of the letter-writers mentioned the trip across the ocean and the wars that affected their lives. Others told of family life, personal unexpected events, deaths and births, illegalities and how actions of others changed their lives forever. In addition to the letters, the journal of Almerine Marshall (1789-1811) gave reasons why he left Connecticut and settled in the mountains of Virginia. A fellow traveler gave a vivid account of the great fire of Richmond where Marshall lost his life in 1811.
Lovers of history and lovers of letters will experience joys and sorrows related by the early citizens as the writers give the reader a better understanding of life in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia during this early time period.
IN VIRGINIA: $16.14; OUT OF STATE: $15.50