The Beginning of Me
The union wasn’t romantic. It wasn’t the Hollywood tale of a mighty Nordic-type German settler struck by the calm innocence of an Appalachian Indian princess. It was convenient and it was illegal.
William and Sarah’s families immigrated from Germany to Jamestown, Va. and then onto the foothills of Western North Carolina. William and Sarah set out on their own through Cumberland Gap for the open frontier of Kentucky with pots and pans and three children. Together they cut trees and cleared rush filled land to built a one-room home beneath scented pines and beside clear running rivers. They finished just in time for a cold winter and another baby. Sarah didn’t survive either. She died at the ripe age of twenty-five.
It was William Jr. that Millie befriended in the woods. He was ten years old, climbing trees and hunting. He was skinny and dirty but friendly. Millie’s Choctaw family was fighting to keep their lands, but Millie liked to climb trees and swim in the rivers. She was thirteen. William Jr. visited Millie’s home and she his. She helped care for his baby sister and would often cook the wild turkey William Jr. had shot, and the fresh trout from the creek. Her family figured that his family and their pitiful existence was no threat to them. They accepted William Jr. as Millie’s friend, and William Jr.’s house thrived with Millie’s help.
It wasn’t romantic. She was thirteen. William Sr. came down sick from the cold, worn clothing and little food, so Millie cared for and comforted him. One night, lying beside him to keep him warm with her body heat, nature happened and Millie was with child. She was thirteen. There was nothing to do but stay. Millie had four more children before she died at twenty-one.
Whenever someone came around to count them, Millie left for the woods and William Sr. recorded her as his wife, born in Germany. The union wasn’t romantic. It wasn’t the Hollywood tale of a mighty Nordic-type German settler struck by the calm innocence of an Appalachian Indian princess. It was convenient and it was illegal. And it was the beginning of me.