"Barely a week after the
sorrowful loss of his father,
Frederick rises before dawn in the
great house of John's plantation where
he has gone from slave to its lord."
Post Colonial America, 1804; a white plantation owner and prosperous Virginia tobacconist, Captain John Warwick, profits from the period's economic scourge of slavery while concurrently struggling with its moral dilemma. His availing brothers brutally challenge this dichotomy, forcing him to go underground with his empathetic treatment of slaves. The ensuing consequences unfold from his actions.
It is 1848, thirteen years prior to the Civil War; upon his death-bed, John does the unthinkable. He writes a will freeing his 300 enslaved and designates his son Frederick, born a slave, as heir to receive his fortune. In another portion of the will John sets aside farm land parceling his plantation for those too old to travel. For Frederick and the remaining freed, he ensures safe passage through Virginia’s wilderness, crossing the Ohio River into the free State of Ohio, where 200 acres are deeded in their names.
Within the qualified time, the freed souls make their treacherous journey across the Ohio River due north to Indian Lake where they are defrauded by devious land brokers into choosing acreage soon to be covered by the rising waters of the Lewistown Reservoir. Faced with disaster, they resurrect and rebuild under Frederick's lead to launch the Warwick Colony onto higher ground.
Generations later this thriving colony would transform into a popular musical venue, Warwick's Landing, headlining the greats of the Jazz Era and spawning Indian Lake's booming Million Dollar Playground.
"I hereby declare that it is my wish
and intention that my Slaves shall,
on being emancipated, have the
whole of my estate...
for their comfortable clothing, out-fit,
traveling expenses and settlement
in their new homes, with such
provision for their comfort,
sustenance and support afterwards...”
About the Author
I was raised in future-bent Southern California where a cognitive dissonance resisted all things historical. Though I was born to an elegant woman from Bogotá, Colombia and a poetic Virginia gentleman, my identity was clearly that of a progressive artist.
One day a curious email changed my life. Kimeta Warwick-Dover wrote me stating that she was the direct descendant of Frederick Warwick, enslaved in the 1800's by my family in Virginia. If my family, on my father’s side, were slave-holders, it was kept from us. The only ancestor I was well aware of was my father's grandfather, U.S. Senator John Warwick Daniel of Virginia, 1881-1910. Still, how could I have not assumed that slavery was in the family?
It was the Last Will & Testament included with Kimeta’s post that convinced me to fly to Ohio. Upon meeting her, I felt an instant kinship, marveling at the story of her direct ancestor having possibly been the son of my 18th Century great uncle.
Was his an epic story of a white father caring for and loving his black son? With the secrecy demonstrated by my father, could a tale of such daring acts of mercy have been hidden in the archives of a family too conservative to speak of radical deeds? Could more secrets lay buried?
I was compelled to exhume those hidden truths from ethical responsibility. It was then I realized I could use my experienced background of writing screenplays to bring this book to life.
Five years of research later, plus Kimeta’s prior ten, with travel and writing completed, I have come to treasure my friendship with a family I would never have known had it not been for Kimeta reaching out to me. We descendants prosper today as a result of the fearless Captain John Warwick and his brave son Frederick. Kimeta and her family are testament of the Warwick will. They speak for their ancestor’s grace and transformation in this unique story of moral determination, each contributing to America’s 21st Century bend towards justice.
– M Warwick Daniel
"Frederick leads the
300 newly freed people
in a caravan of horse-drawn
wagons across the Ohio river."
Arriving in Ohio, they purchased two hundred acres and built log cabins on the banks of Indian Lake. However, unscrupulous land brokers had swindled them by concealing plans that an upriver dam was to be built. Their lakefront acreage floods and a full half of the colony die of malaria.