Based on the true story of two slaves who fled their owners with White women into the wilderness of North-Central Pennsylvania, The Indigo Scarf interprets the little known legacy of slavery persisting in the north during the 19th century. Meticulously researched, the author’s work is informed by scholars in early American slave laws and northern black codes, by experts in post-colonial folkways, and by descendants who live to this day in the fugitive settlement their forbears established. While The Indigo Scarf relates the covert workings of sympathetic Quakers, the ruthlessness of a slave catcher, and the irony of a Revolutionary War veteran forced to face his daughter’s love for the slave Jedediah James, it treats the deeper theme of the spirit-breaking impact slavery has had across generations since abolition.
Though shadowed in whiskey-making and timber-pirating, The Indigo Scarf is a paean to devotion, testing the lengths a woman will go to save her man from a burning vengeance as he confronts the privations of a wild frontier while his former owner schemes his return. On a broader scale, the story is a testament to the perseverance and vision of pioneer women who devoted themselves to planting in their offspring the seeds of hope for liberty which may only be realized by descendants they would never know.
Woven between scenes spanning a forbidden, historically based slave marriage on a plantation in Virginia’s tidewater region to a tragic liquor operation on the Susquehanna’s unpeopled and feral West Branch during the frontier decades after Pennsylvania’s last Indian purchase, the narrator’s own sub-tale culminates in her realization of how a pioneer-woman ancestor had destined her to break the generational chain of bondage.