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‘In An Unclean Place’
Considering the Littoral World of Plantation America


From the Ghosts of Longmarsh Run, 1761

Below are a smattering of accounts of valuables being found that were said to be hidden by or stolen from a widow of a cruel, prolific and sinful father of much means in western portions of Virginia and eastern portions of Pennsylvania. The father and his sons travelled along a diagonal northeasterly rout along the valleys that cleave the hilly regions of the Mid-Atlantic between the coastal plains and the Appalachian Mountains. This is a route slightly interior [0] to the anterior “Long War Way” which has become the Appalachian Trail and was used by Native warriors as a war passage and raiding rout. Also noted are some valuable items possessed by the slave-owning class of men speculating in land acquisitions in the mid-18th century as the old time arrangement between plantation owners and Indian Tribes organizing to maintain the European and African servant classes in bondage broke down under multi-cultural stresses and imperial machinations between the French and English.

Note that Indian Tribes had three methods by which they prevented the largely unguarded European and African slaves from forming feral frontier communities and disrupting the ecology of their managed wilderness habitat:

-1. To return runaways to their masters, typically in exchange for guns, steel, powder and shot,

-2. To adopt women, children and youth and remarkable fighting men into the tribal structure to maintain cultural weight and numbers of fighting men,

-3. To slaughter and terrorize those unfit for adoption.

Beeler’s world of lone slave holders with an older son on horseback as the police and military arm of society was hopelessly brittle in the face of tribal warriors, as illustrated by his abandonment of Ohio Watershed real estate.

“A calabash stoppered with a chunk of salt”

“twenty shillings and two yards of cambric” [1]

“of 13 shillings only 12 and sixpence were missing”

“six copper pence so new as if they had just left the mint. With them lay a brass ring.”

“twelve pistols twenty pistrins, fifteen dollars and some small change” [2]

“three pounds currency” [3]

“We had a building which we called the liquor house because much strong drink was stored in it… there was some mateglem left…figuring the gallon at four shilling six pence” [4]

“In the presence of the man of the house and several whites and blacks,” [5]

“a half crown bill and a silver piece”

“…his spurs, which had been hanging on the wall”

“the innkeeper [of The Buck in near Lancaster] provided us with a room where we could be alone”

“five dollars” repeated 5 times in the narrative”

“a well preserved 20 shilling note in a rag”

Christian quotes:

“Who restoreth to the debtor [6] his pledge and payeth back what he hath robbed.”

“The father’s blessing builds houses for the children, but the mother’s wrath plucketh them down.”

“…the itinerant journeyman in the tavern who, because they are not in as good a condition as others, not only remain without wages but are a burden to others.”

The religious attention paid money, debt and servitude in aspects of Christian liturgy focused on by protestant radicals in Plantation America is curiously reflected in the post-modern worship of debt in the terms of the pursuit of a credit score and that this enhanced ability to shoulder debt stands as a prominent social status marker. A recent USA Today article in late June 2019 cited debt accumulation and a high credit score as a positive health boon and also as the new mark of “the middle class.” One might qualify the Plantation America Christian sense of the prosperity gospel as a penance served for an original economic sin of low birth, with the “whites and blacks” faceless, nameless men next to the man of the house who owns them, a man who my very well have been owned as an apprentice or servant in his youth and had through toil and servitude managed his own ascension within the temporal sphere. There was a very catholic sense of individual guilt associated with debt, a sense of community justice embedded in the notion of enslavement of the kind born in orphanage, debt, sin or war that made every faceless piece of human property an individually-deserved human sacrifice in pursuit of a better collective world.

What is certain is that the ostensibly austere Christian Cloister of Ephrata hosted a divination of pagan proportions in which the abused and afflicted “Eliseba Beeler, acting as priestess, spoke the words over them which the ghost had placed in her mouth,” and that all of these words were concerned with small stashes of money hidden from and stolen by members of the very same Christian family.

America, as a nation, was yet to draw breath as a leading family of the Plantation Interior demonstrated in tragic tones of miserly fetish that the greed of ancient Babylon had gained its throne in this new land before it had even been won from its savage children.

Notes

-0. Interior to the Plantation Zone, not to the geographic mass of North America.

-1. A plain weave light cotton cloth

-2. A pistole a Spanish gold coin, a pistron a debased Spanish coin

-3. Paper notes

-4. A medicinal liquor

-5. “White” and “black” were coming into currency as terms for describing Europeans and Africans, mostly among people of Germanic extraction whose European slaves were shipped under non-Christian masters. These “whites and blacks” would be men, but not The Man of the House, as children and women are rarely exclusively addressed as racial placeholders in the Plantation Period. English Anglicans used the term Negro almost exclusively and generally described unfree whites simply as servants, and differentiated free “whites” according to ethnicity.

-6. A debtor is always a sinner, a type of person which post-modern economics is designed to generate. One wonders what the debt-despising Christians of yore would think of their descendants’ debtor nation.

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