Chapter 114 Summary
The Murray family has to admit that Chicken George’s “promised land” is lacking when they get a glimpse of it: a few storefronts, a few white people, and no real roads. Even a few white children, rolling hoops in the dust, stop and glare at the large wagon train coming through to join the town. Chicken George tells everyone this just shows it’s a new settlement and that “ain’t nothin’ it can do but grow.” Their mood is better when they get a look at the soil, rich and black. Each small family unit is given thirty acres of land.
All of the families live out of their covered wagons while they begin clearing the land, planting crops, and building cabins. Ol’ George and Martha happily live by their colored friends as the white community completely shuns them for their association with blacks.
News quickly spreads that Tom plans to open his first blacksmith shop. A few white men try to stop Tom’s new business plans by telling Tom he must work for a white owner, not own a shop himself. After recovering from dismay that white people seem to be the same everywhere, Tom decides to craft a “traveling” blacksmith shop on the back of a flatbed wagon. Tom politely acknowledges every man, black or white, in the town of Henning and offers his blacksmithing services at a reasonable rate. It isn’t long before Tom is wanted and needed by almost everyone in the county.
In 1874, with their businesses, farms, and families settled, the entire group (led by Matilda) turns to the new, all-important project of building a church. Everyone contributes, even down to the beautiful stained glass window purchased from Sears Roebuck, and in no time the New Hope Colored Methodist Episcopal Church is erected.
It is a special day for the family, especially for Matilda as she gazes upon the new house of God. A former slave, Reverend Sylus Henning (who used to be owned by the very Henning the town is named after), becomes the preacher and “Matilda watched misty-eyed” as the children romp and play in the churchyard after services: a testament to freedom. All enjoy a huge celebration with all kinds of food and drink after the services are over. Chicken George admits that Kunta Kinte’s daughter, Kizzy, is certainly looking down on them in happiness.