It was dead of winter...

My inspiration came the day I visited Isaac's house in Slate Springs, Mississippi in 2007. It was dead of winter and, at the time, I was writing The Mississippi Boys, the manuscript almost finished. I gave my new book its title that day—Isaac's House. It had been hard for me to say goodbye to The Mississippi Boys, and it was settled, I didn't have to. I would write Isaac's House, and behind it, Joab.These are my people. Not the Paynes, for they are my fictional family. But the Clarks—T.G., Jonathan, Albert Henry, Isaac, Joab and Samuel Clark. T.G., Jonathan, and Albert Henry all died in the Battle of Gettysburg. Isaac joined the Confederate Army when he came of age and fought until the war ended. I'm still learning about Joab, and Samuel was my great-grandfather, only two years old when his father and brothers went to war.

I returned to Isaac's house in Slate Springs in July 2009. Standing on the old front porch that day, thoughts of this man—a Confederate who survived the Civil War, who came home to marry Jennie and raise a large family right where I was standing—revved the writer within me. Isaac's place is a most beautiful piece of Americana smothered by tall oaks, pine and magnolia. Sumac, ivy and morning glories grow inside and out. The tree with the roots exposed over the trail of a road is still standing.

The old house, collapsing now—once white clapboard with a green roof, and yes, even a dogtrot, in later years enclosed, yet identifiable as such—whispers a tale of an era of carpetbaggers and scalawags. I close my eyes, set my imagination free, and shine my fictional light directly on the history of my family, even now, evoking emotions of sorrow and joy. Sorrow for T.G., Jonathan, and Henry. Joy that Isaac lived to tell their story.


Jane Bennett Gaddy, Ph.D.
Trinity, FL





Comments

  1. It is so sad to see Isaac's house in such dispair and ready to fall. The first time I was there twenty or so years ago, my husband & I crawled through a broken window to see the inside of the house. The old dogtrot is very samll for today's standards, even though it had been connected many years ago to make one house. Makes you wonder where they put all their nine children. I have taken two of my children to see the old house, it is such a beautiful setting, with huge trees all around. Charlie Clark took my son & me a couple of years ago and it is now a jungle around the old house. My son Sean crawled through the broken window to look at the inside. It was so ready to completely fall in that I was afraid for him, I ask Charlie if he thought it was safe enough for Sean to be inside or if he thought it might fall. Charlie kind of grinned and said it might fall. I am the great great granddaughter of Isaac and Jenny and you can almost hear the activity of the family that once lived there. So many stories the old house could tell. Thank you Jane for writing the book about my grandparents

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  2. Kay, you're so right about the house. I wish they could read the title clear and that Charlie would purchase it. I know he would either restore the house or rebuild it as close as possible to Isaac's House! It's such a beautiful place, secluded, covered with beautiful trees and undergrowth. Like you, I could hear the sounds of that Clark family living and loving in that lovely old place. Thanks for reading.

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  3. Jane, I can't wait to read Isaac's story. You make this Kansas girl feel as though her roots were in the south. This makes me think of my grandparents stories of the Oklahoma land run and their sod house.
    P.S. I love the new layout of the blog.

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  4. Claudia, you make me want to write forever!

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  5. Yea! I love the new format! It makes it alot brighter! And I like the descriptions and entries under the pictures. Good job-you are becoming such a "techy"! Please tell Joey to share "Missippi Boys"...eager eyes want to read too! Love you!

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