Foreword to Sarvice Mountain, my novel that should be ready for purchase from amazon.com in a couple of weeks.
Because of the right of primogeniture, Isaac Barker didn’t inherit the farm. He and his bride Spicy, led Barney, heavy with supplies, across the Allegheny Front and down into the Indian River Valley of western Virginia. By the time they arrived, the Shawnee who escaped the slaughter had fled west across the Ohio River to join other Shawnee and get ready to fight off their extinction.
Here and there, with the coming of itinerant ministers to preach funeral services, skinny trees burst out with delicate white blossoms before they could be shaded by oaks and hickories and chestnuts. It was the earliest flowering tree in the woods, a sign in the mountains, even before the buckeye, that bad weather was about over and the light of spring was on its way. Those trees were called service trees and pronounced sarvice by the Irish immigrants.
In late winter Isaac and Spicy had the pleasure of gazing across Indian River at an unusually large number of white blossoms before other trees woke up. They named the creek coming off the mountain across from their homestead for those blossoms. The mountain too earned its name from the multitude of white blossoms. Several years after Isaac and Spicy migrated to Indian River a small community sprung up where the creek joined the river. It was the first community in the area and gave its name to the county when it was formed from Daniel Boone County of western Virginia. The town, like the white blossomed tree, never grew big and it never attained the title of incorporated, nor did it have a paved road until Almost Heaven Coal Company had need of one.
Spicy’s first baby was stillborn. In the August draught, Isaac wadded across Indian River carrying her tiny body and climbed to the top of Sarvice Mountain and buried Alice. He hand-chiseled a stone marker with the letters AB and started the Barker graveyard on the high knoll at the north end of the ridge.
After their first terrible loss the Barkers mushroomed from Isaac and Spicy’s offspring. They eventually had enough votes to honor themselves by changing the county name to Barker. The little community across the river became a dirt-road town at the edge of Barker County, which itself was on the far edge of the bigger world. For a long time the bigger world took little notice of the county or of the town. Heaven changed that.