Hattie and Mattie Wright, twin girls, born to Irish mother and one-half Cherokee father, never knew what it was like to want for anything. At the age of three years, their grandmother, who lived on the Cherokee Reservation in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, came to live with them in their new home in Ouray, Colorado.
The girls' father had made a fortune in the mining industry, being gainfully employed with one of the mines in the Red Mountain Mining District between Silverton and Ouray on the now Million Dollar Highway.
The girls adored their grandmother and would sit for hours at her feet and listen to stories of the old days. "Tell us another story, Gammie, they would cry out," always enthralled in her recollections of life back in Georgia before the great move West to Oklahoma.
"How could anybody be so mean to our Gammie?" they wondered.
She would say, "My sweet girls, it wasn't me. It was all of us. Before the move West, my mother and father were land owners in Georgia, loved and respected by Chief John Ross. But the time came when the White Man came in, took everything away from us except the clothes on our backs and sent us on our way. I was a little girl then, but I remember my mother crying the day we began our walk.In my little girl mind, I thought we were just walking down the road a little bit to a new house. Imagine how I felt when we walked for months at a time." The girls looked at each other with their mouth agape.
"I've heard it said that the winter that year was the worse in recorded history up until that time and the snow was deep. Many of our people didn't make it to Oklahoma. When we reached the Mississippi River the water was frozen and there was no way for us to cross. We were forced to stay there a month. So many went home to the Great Spirit during that time. We sang hymns. We prayed. We tried to hold on to what little faith we had left. And finally, we were able to continue our journey. There were soldiers who took us there. And girls, we were hungry and cold and wet. And so many got sick. So many died."
"When we finally reached Little Rock, my mother, so tired and cold, sat on a rock by the great river there. She was freezing and had nothing to cover herself with. Chief Ross's wife gave her the blanket she had used as a wrap. Mother told me the chief's wife died in Little Rock from pneumonia."
"Why, Gammie? Why did everyone have to leave their homes?" This story was hard for the girls to hear and even moreso to understand.
"Well, honey," the girls' grandmother said, "that's a story for another time. But what I can say is that the Good Lord, the Great Spirit who loves us, took great care to send us to a place that looked like the place we came from. Some of the men said that the same Crow who carved out our mountains back in Georgia must have carved the ones in our new home as well. God took care of us then; he takes care of us now."
The girls thought long and hard of the stories their grandmother told them as they grew up and knew in their hearts the heritage Gammie had was theirs as well. But more importantly, the God she loved, was the same God who protected Hattie and Mattie throughout their life.
Well, asked and answered! I wondered about your "Minerscut" books, now here's an excerpt. It's actually pretty good, Hazel. As a published writer, I can tell you it has good potential. We'll see how the story develops...