The War years were incredibly binding for southerners; the aftermath, a different story, albeit the South was faithful to The Cause long after it was dead. The Union tried in futile effort to manage a country diametrically opposed to its political orientation. A country as stubborn and proud as its hanging moss that clings and blows in the winds of time. Gray in the gloom, caught up in pink shafts of the sun on a day not so gloomy. The South, ripped to shreds by the War, faced an ideology that challenged its principles and wherewithal, mocked its gentility, and found great pleasure in attempting to clean the carcass of the southern dog. 

ISAAC'S HOUSE takes place during the era of Reconstruction, a time of Carpetbaggers and Scalawags. I wrote this story from the heart of my imagination and with the history I could glean from letters and family knowledge as certain members saw it. With that information, I was able to shine my fictional light directly on the history of my family. Even now, it evokes emotions of sorrow and joy and kindles a promise of redemption and restoration. 

Sunday morning was no different—like every other weekday, for there were chores to do that would not wait for Monday morning. But when all those were done, Isaac would be off to meetinghouse in Sarepta. He brought Kit up before sunrise and filled the two buckets with fresh milk, trekked to the porch, and sat the buckets down. Joab was waiting for him.
            “Mama said take the milk on up to the churn, Isaac. She needs butter. Here, I’ll take 'em in.”
            “Okay, brother. I’m going to the stream.”
            He picked up the round of soap at the wash pan, towel from the nail, and disappeared out of sight. When he returned he was scrubbed and ready to dress for meeting.
Meetinghouse was a place where people of like mind gathered in open expression of their faith freedom, an essential part of life in the South. Something no one had ever dared touch, not even the Yanks. When he thought about it, though, the Yanks had touched that part of their lives, for so many of their men were missing. So many benches were vacant, so many widows and orphans left by their deaths. Their beloved pastor had fought alongside the Payne men and fell in the same blood drenched railroad cut at Gettysburg. When they went, he went. Said he wouldn't be left behind.
Isaac’s mother and father had been his spiritual teachers from the cradle—and his mother would be his teacher to the grave. She taught her boys the significance of the gathering place in the Old Testament. The place where God met with his people—wherever the altar of God was raised and the Prophet stood—there was the gathering place. And at this time in his life, Isaac was happy to remember that meetinghouse was the place to find the best wife. 

Isaac slipped onto the bench beside his brothers just as the singing started. Jennie caught his eye from the choir loft. He forgot about Winfield Cooper and the carpetbagger for the time being. His spirit soared when he saw her and as he recalled countless Lord’s Days spent sitting on the bench beside his father and brothers. He knew life would never be the way it was, but her presence was already beginning to help fill the void.
            Joab and Sam lifted their bows and music filled the meetinghouse. He thought about Ben. Jonathan had played that old hymn at his graveside the day they buried their little brother on the hill. There’s a land that is fairer than day, and by faith we can see it afar. The years had rolled by, taking his little brother. Giving Cassie. Taking his father and Henry. Giving Lee. And now, he hoped God was giving him Jennie. How often his father had read the verses from Job that concluded God is good, for the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. He looked across the one room shack of a meetinghouse to the side reserved for women and little children. There were more women and children than men, thanks to the cruel War. His mother smiled, and he saw God's healing on her face.
            Isaac prayed for a better spirit, wondering how many times he would need to beg forgiveness for his inconsistency. The matter was far from settled, and the task was his. He wasn’t sure he could handle it. Heaven knows, he wanted to.

Excerpts from ISAAC'S HOUSE
Jane Bennett Gaddy, Ph.D.