There is parcel of dark forest where two old mountain trails intersect. They create a cruciform. It is covered with magnificent, yet dark and foreboding, hemlocks. The large crowned oaks block out the sunlight. Small pools of dark tannic water pull at human feet.
The parcel was settled, tilled, forested and quarried by a family named Birdsall. The various generations of Birdsalls lived, almost sequestered, in a compound area caught between a river and a precipitous mountain. The compound divided the parcel in two uneven pieces; thirty acres on the river flats and seventy acres on the mountain.
The trail that divides the mountain top was originally a Native American pass. It was then usurped by the Europeans. The river flat was also split, this time by the technology of the 19th century; the Chenango Canal.
This north/south canal also cleaves the midsection of the New York State. New York was founded by the Dutch and ceded to the English at the end of the Second Anglo-Dutch War in 1667. An Englishman named Fletcher, was Governor of New York in 1679. He found a good friend in the pirate Thomas Tew. Gifts were exchanged between the two. New York government has, ever since, been unable to throw off the yoke of questionable ethics.
However, this is the story of people who lived on and around that dark forest; the Birdsall compound. It is the story of a family’s pilgrimage from the safety of the Hudson Valley to the unknown Indian Territory of the Chenango Valley.
The following characters are all very real. Their names and events were gleaned from federal, state and local documents. Some of these people are buried on the river flats mentioned above.
The real life players in this story are:
HENRY BIRDALL (the elder), who was the original settler on the parcel.
ABASHABY, his wife.
HENRY (the younger) and HORACE BIRDSALL, the two sons of Horace and Abashaby.
HESTER, FANNY, ABASHABY (the younger), RACHEL, DEBORAH, ELIZA and POLLY were the daughters of Henry and Abashaby.
EPINETUS, the son of Horace and grandson of Henry and Abashaby.
Other very real people who are part of this story and have added to the history of New York;
JOSEPH JULIAND, a French businessman who immigrated to Greene.
MADAM D’AUTREMONT, a refugee from the French Revolution.
And last but not least the conversation partner of Epinetus; one GEORGE PARK, Esquire.
Of course, it is Epinetus who narrates for us.