This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
This story is copyright by Owen Hudson, all rights reserved. Distribution, including but not limited to: posting on internet sites, newsgroups, or message boards, or in book form (either as a whole or part of a compilation), or on CD, DVD or any other electronic media, is expressly prohibited without the author's written consent.
The war raged on in the Cherokee Nation, and both the Union and Confederate governments made promises to the Cherokees that neither was likely to keep. They did this to get the Cherokees to join in the war on their side. However, Chief John Ross wanted no part of the white man's war. The Western Cherokees (also known as the Ridge Faction) for the most part sided with the Confederates. Many of these Cherokees were slave owners themselves.
The Cherokees had prospered until the war came about. They'd opened the Cherokee Male Seminary in Tahlequah and the Cherokee Female Seminary in Park Hill in 1851. These were the first institutions of higher education west of the Mississippi. These seminaries were the predecessors to Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. The Cherokee common schools were considered to be superior to those in neighboring Missouri and Arkansas.
Nathan's death and the war changed Isaac. He no longer wanted to live without Nathan, but Sally and Tom convinced him that Nathan would want him to go on with his life. He went through the motions of daily living and each day was making small steps towards getting better. Tom and Sally were managing the farm while Isaac continued working at Mr. Murrell's mercantile.
The skirmishes between the Union and Confederate sympathizers increased. As these skirmishes increased, Isaac became more and more uneasy. The memory of what happened to Nathan was still vivid in his mind. Isaac became very upset when Chief John Ross' home in Park Hill was burned by a band of Cherokee Confederates; killing many Cherokees on their way to the Ross home.
Isaac began having dreams of his homeland in the east and his beloved grandmother. The dreams were always in the eastern homeland until one night he was sitting on the bank of the Barren Fork when his grandmother said, "This is your new homeland, but for now you must leave. You will die here if you stay."
"Ah-lee-see (Grandmother), the one I love is buried here," Isaac said. "And I shall die here too."
"You will die here, eventually," Martha agreed. "But now is not the time for you to die."
"We no longer have a homeland in the east," Isaac said. "I have no place to go."
"Talk to your friend John Tillery," Martha said. "He will know a place for you to go."
"How do you know about John?" Isaac asked in surprise.
"I've always been with you uh-gee-lee-see," Martha said, using the Cherokee word for child of my daughter since there is no Cherokee word for grandson or granddaughter.
"Okay, I'll talk to John Tillery about a safe place to go," Isaac agreed.
Just before the mercantile closed the next day, Isaac said, "John, may I speak with you about something?"
"So, there is something on your mind," John chuckled. "I knew that something was up."
"I'm leaving this place," Isaac announced to Tom and Sally during the evening meal. "The white man has ruined the land that I have grown to love."
"Where will you go?" Tom asked.
"I talked to John Tillery about a place that is out of harm's way," Isaac said. "John has a friend Samuel Clark in Springfield, Illinois, who owns a mercantile there," Isaac said. "John gave me a letter of reference and he's sure that I can be employed there."
"What will become of us?" Sally asked with a great deal of concern.
"I hope that you and Tom will come with me," Isaac said. "You're family to me."
"How would I earn a living?" Tom asked.
"I'd like to buy a small farm and let you run it just as you've done here," Isaac said. "I think it will only be a matter of time before the white man tries to take our land here. With this war I won't get much money for the livestock, but I do have money in a Springfield bank."
"How will we get there?" Sally asked, apparently agreeing to go to Springfield.
"We have five good horses," Isaac pointed out. "We'll ride three and use the other two draft horses for packhorses. We'll buy supplies along the way."
After selling all of the livestock, except for the horses, Isaac and his 'family' prepared for the long journey to their new home. A newlywed couple agreed to move into the cabin. "It's a warm home," Isaac pointed out. "Use it as your own until I return."
Isaac knew he would someday return since Nathan was buried on the farm.
"We'll stop in Park Hill and say goodbye to John," Isaac said as he, Tom, and Sally mounted their horses.
"Stay west of the Neosho River until you enter Kansas," John cautioned them. "You'll want to avoid Arkansas and southern Missouri. It's far too dangerous to travel there. I understand that there are Confederate troops northeast of Tahlequah. You probably should go west of Tahlequah and ford the Neosho there. The Confederate troops may try to take Tom and Sally regardless of the papers you have. Don't go too far west or you may end up in the Osage lands. They're still bitter that the government moved them off this land to make room for the Cherokees. I wish you a safe journey; please try to get word to me that you've made it safely."
"Thank you, John," Isaac said, as he shook John's hand. "You've been a true friend. We should be on our way. I'd like to be on the other side of the Neosho before nightfall." After fording the Neosho and riding a few miles north, Isaac decided they should make camp for the night. Isaac and Tom gathered firewood and made sure that Sally had plenty of water. Sally set about preparing the evening meal. Isaac had used his blowgun (a small tube made from river cane used for firing light darts) to kill a couple of squirrels. He began dressing the squirrels while Tom unsaddled the horses and hobbled them. The squirrels were the main course and were incredibly good. Sally had prepared them much like chicken and dumplings.
Isaac hadn't slept on the ground since the long march from the east. However, he did manage to get a decent night's sleep. He was surprised to see that Sally was already preparing breakfast when he crawled out of his bedroll.
"Did you sleep well?" Isaac asked, as Sally handed him a steaming tin cup of coffee.
"I've had softer beds," Sally said. "I'm sure I'll get used to it by the time we get to Springfield."
"Where's Tom?" Isaac asked.
"He took the horses to the river to water," Sally said. "I must have woke him when I got up this morning."
"Sally, I've noticed that you don't speak like most slaves I've met," Isaac said. "It's the same with Tom."
"Miss Rose didn't allow slave talk."
"I was Miss Rose's slave since we were little girls. Tom was Master Charles' slave since they were little boys too. Master Charles didn't allow him to talk slave talk either."
"Did Miss Rose treat you well?"
"She did. She was teaching me to read, and I was teaching Tom what she taught me. One day Miss Rose's daddy caught her teaching me. Master George became very angry; instead of punishing Miss Rose he whipped me with a quirt. Miss Rose told him that I'd been teaching Tom to read, so her daddy took the quirt to Tom also. He then put us both in the fields to work with the other slaves. The other field slaves hated us and called us 'uppity' niggers. Soon after that Tom escaped and ended up with you and Nathan. He tried to get me to go with him, but I was too afraid. When he came back for me, I'd been whipped and nearly worked to death and was more than ready to go."
"How did Tom manage to get you away?" Isaac asked.
"Master George had us clearing land for a new cotton field," Sally began. "Tom was hiding in the woods watching us. I had to go into the woods," Sally said, somewhat embarrassed mentioning the fact that she went to the woods to urinate. "Tom told me to meet him there after the others had gone to sleep. I was so afraid, but would rather have died than stay on that plantation any longer. I was surprised to see that Tom had a horse when I met him that night. We rode all night to get to your place."
"Maybe this war will end slavery," Isaac said. "I certainly hope it does."
"The horses have been watered and saddled," Tom said, as he took his tin cup of coffee from Sally.
After a breakfast of corn dodgers and bacon, the three were on the trail. The noon meal was the leftover corn dodgers. By day's end they had traveled about 40 miles before making camp. Tom tended the horses while Isaac gathered firewood for Sally. Sally made a stew using canned beef and vegetables. Of course there were corn dodgers. To the hungry travelers the meal was delicious, but as Tom had said, "Sally can cook a rock and make it taste good."
By the third day they arrived in Chetopa, Kansas. Isaac thought it would be best to rest the horses a day before proceeding on. After setting up camp along the Neosho River, Sally set about catching up on laundry while Isaac took the pack horses to purchase supplies. While in town, Isaac purchased grain for the horses. He also decided to purchase a tent. 'We're sure to have rain,' he thought.
After a day's rest, it was time to ride northeast toward Saint Louis. After the fourth day it began to rain. They were delighted that Isaac had purchased the tent. Rather than travel in the rain, the decision was made to remain in camp and let the horses rest and graze. While in camp, Isaac killed enough small game for fresh meat. Despite the difficulty of keeping a fire going for cooking, Sally managed to cook meals.
The weather cleared after two days and the trio broke camp. "It's good to finally be moving again," Tom said.
"We should reach Springfield by mid morning," Isaac said two days later.
"It will be good to end our journey," Sally said.
"It won't end our journey," Isaac chuckled. "We're going to Springfield, Illinois; we're near Springfield, Missouri."
Ironically, Isaac had passed through the Springfield area in 1838 when the Cherokees were removed from the east. Remembrance of this brought on a melancholy feeling.
When they reached Springfield, Isaac thought it would be good to stay in a hotel for a day. They would stable the horses and give them a rest. "I have a room for you, but your 'darkies' will have to sleep in the stable," the hotel proprietor said.
"If you don't have a room for my employees, then you don't have a room for me," Isaac said, as he stormed out of the hotel almost running over a woman.
"I'm so sorry," Isaac said. "I think I need to learn to control my anger."
"I see that you must have met William Jefferson," the woman said. "He wouldn't let your servants stay in the hotel with your, right?"
"Sorry, we weren't properly introduced," Isaac smiled. "Would there be another hotel that would rent two rooms?"
'"There's another hotel, but I'm afraid you'll encounter the same results," the woman said. "I'd be pleased to put you up at my house. I'm a widow and my sons are off to war, so I have plenty of room. I also have pasture for your horses."
"Thank you," Isaac said. "I'm Isaac Hampton and this is Tom and his wife Sally."
"I'm Charlotte McDonald," Charlotte said. "I came into town to see if I had a letter from my sons and was on my way home. If you're interested in the rooms, come with me, I live at the edge of town. It's a short walk."
Charlotte's house was a well maintained house with a barn and pasture in the back. There was also a rather large garden near the house that was nearly weed-free. The rooms were clean and pleasantly furnished.
"The rooms are very nice," Isaac said, after seeing the rooms. "How much do you charge?"
"One dollar for each room and twenty-five cents for each horse," Charlotte said. "Supper is fifty cents each. It's fried chicken. Breakfast is ten cents each. Some of my boarders like to do their laundry while here. I don't charge for the use of my wash pots and tubs, if you have your own soap. If you need soap, I can provide that for five cents. The same goes for bathing. You'll need to provide your own wood for heating the water. There's plenty of wood west of the pasture. The well is out back."
"It sounds reasonable to me," Isaac said, having no idea if it was or not. He'd never stayed in a hotel and had no knowledge of what was normally charged.
Tom and Isaac tended to the horses and then went to gather wood. They knew that they would all want a bath and that Sally would want to catch up on the laundry.
Isaac and Tom found Sally in the kitchen busy frying chicken. "This girl knows her way around in a kitchen," Charlotte said, with a big smile. "I've never had a guest offer to help in the kitchen before."
After eating camp food for so long, supper was a feast. There was fried chicken, a variety of vegetables from Charlotte's garden, and hot biscuits with plenty of fresh butter.
"Sally, your fried chicken is even better than mine, and I thought mine couldn't be surpassed," Charlotte said.
"It was easy cooking on your wood stove," Sally said. "I've only cooked over an open fire or in a fireplace."
After bathing, the travelers went to bed for a good night's sleep on comfortable beds. When Isaac went to Charlotte's kitchen the next morning, Charlotte and Sally were busy preparing breakfast. Sally began frying eggs when she suddenly rushed out the kitchen door and vomited.
"I'm sorry, I don't know what's wrong with me," Sally apologized, when she returned.
"Child, you're going to have a baby," Charlotte laughed. "I know from having my own children."
"No, I can't be pregnant," Sally said. "I'm barren."
"You're not barren," Charlotte assured her. "I recognize morning sickness when I see it."
Sally was both embarrassed and happy at the news. Tom beamed like a proud peacock.
"You people need to stay one more day," Charlotte said. "This girl needs another day's rest. I'll let you have both rooms and pasture for your horses for a dollar and fifty cents."
Isaac had actually planned on spending another night and sleeping in a real bed, and he also realized that Charlotte was enjoying Sally's company. After breakfast, Isaac decided to go into town and purchase supplies. Sally decided to do the laundry and Tom insisted that he would help; something he'd never done before.
The extra day of rest was rejuvenating, but Isaac was anxious to continue the journey the next morning. After saying goodbye to Charlotte, the trio continued their journey northeast toward Saint Louis.
Just after noon on the sixth day of leaving Springfield, Isaac, Tom, and Sally arrived in Saint Louis, only stopping long enough to purchase supplies. Isaac then arranged for the ferry crossing, which took about three hours before they crossed the Mississippi River over into Illinois. "We should be in Springfield in about three days," Isaac proclaimed, after the crossing.
Isaac and his family arrived in Springfield just after ten in the morning on the third day after departing Saint Louis. They easily found Sam Clark's store. Sam was delighted to hear from his old friend John Tillery from the Cherokee Nation and readily gave Isaac a job in his store.
"Do you know of any nearby small farms for sale?" Isaac inquired.
"Widow Wilson may want to sell hers," Sam said. "Her son has gone to war and she's opened a seamstress shop here in town to support herself. Her shop is down the street, you'll see her sign out front."
"No, I'm sorry I don't want to sell the farm at this time," Virginia Wilson said. "My son is off to war and I want him to have it when he returns. However, I am looking for a tenant. With so many of our men off to war, there are so few left to farm."
"I hadn't thought about tenancy and had planned to purchase a farm," Isaac said.
"Why don't you ride out to look the place over," Virginia said. "If you like it, perhaps we can agree on something until you find property to purchase. It's about two miles west; it's the only vacant house out that way. I still have a few items in the house that I didn't have room for here. Those will be for sale if you decide on the property."
"Would you mind if we left the packhorses tied here while we ride out there?" Isaac asked.
"That would be fine," Virginia said.
The farm had at one time been a productive farm. There was a good size barn, a root cellar, a smoke house for curing hams, an orchard, a fenced pasture, and fallow fields. The house was a five room house with large front and back porches.
There was furniture in two of the bedrooms but one was bare. The furniture was apparently taken to the smaller home in town. The same appeared to be true of the parlor, except for a wood heating stove."
"Look a cook stove," Sally said with delight, at seeing the kitchen.
"Tom, I know that Sally likes the place, but what do you think?" Isaac asked.
"It looks like a good farm," Tom said.
Virginia and Isaac agreed on a lease of the farm for $200 a year. "I'll sell the furniture that is there and the two stoves for another $100," Virginia said.
"I saw a wagon and farm equipment in the barn, is that for sell?" Isaac asked.
"I want to keep that for my son," Virginia said. "You're welcome to use anything there as long as you keep it in good repair. There's also harnesses in the barn that you may use."
"That's very kind of you, Mrs. Wilson," Isaac said.
"Around here I'm just Ginny," Ginny Wilson said.
"And I'm Isaac," Isaac said. "Ginny, do you know where I might purchase a milk cow or two?"
"Henry Green often has one or two for sale," Ginny said. "He has the farm next to mine. He has some good Guernsey cows."
The next stop was at Sam Clark's store for supplies. The long list of items needed included wash tubs, wash pots, pots and pans for the kitchen, in addition to grocery items.
"It seems that we'll need the wagon to haul all of this to the farm," Isaac said. "Sam, I need to see Mr. Green about purchasing a milk cow or two. Tom will bring the wagon and pick up all of this."
"Henry has some of the best Guernseys around," Sam said. "He'll quote a price and isn't willing to barter. However, Henry is an honest man and will give you an honest price."
"This cow isn't one of my better producers," Henry said, when showing Isaac a cow he had for sale. "If you don't have a large family, she'll nevertheless give you plenty of milk and butter. I'll take $20 for her."
"There are only three of us," Isaac said.
"Then you should have plenty of milk," Henry said.
"I'll take her," Isaac said. "That sure is a pretty little heifer over there."
"She is a nice one," Henry readily agreed. "She's out of one of my best producers; she's bred and should have her first calf come spring. I'd take the same price for her."
"I doubt we'll need two cows, but I'll take her anyway," Isaac said. "Would you happen to have any laying hens for sale?"
"That's something I'll have to ask my wife about," Henry said. "Let me go get her."
"I'll be right here," Isaac said, as he admired his purchases.
"Mr. Hampton, this is my wife Gladys," Henry said, when he returned.
"Pleased to meet you," Isaac said. "But between neighbors, it's just Isaac."
"Pleased to meet you too," Gladys said. "Henry said you were in need of some laying hens."
"Yes, if you have some to sell," Isaac said.
"I could let you have a dozen and a rooster," Gladys said. "I'll take two dollars for the lot."
"I'll take them," Isaac said. "Tom took the wagon into town, so I'll come back later to get them when he returns."
"That will be acceptable," Gladys said. "Is Tom your son?"
"No, Tom and his wife Sally are freed slaves who worked for me in the Cherokee Nation," Isaac said. "They'll work for me here. I'll be working for Sam Clark."
"Say, would you be in need of a few hogs?" Henry asked.
"No, thank you," Isaac said. "I'll have to buy grain for the livestock I already have. I'll wait until we bring in our first crop."
"I'm going to have plenty of corn to harvest," Henry said. "When it's ready to harvest, send Tom over with the wagon to help harvest and I'll pay him with part of the harvest."
"That's very generous of you," Isaac said. "In that case, I'll reconsider on the hogs."
"There's a good hay meadow on the Wilson property," Henry said. "You'll need hay for the winter. You're welcome to use my horse drawn hay mower and rake."
"Again, that's very generous of you," Isaac said. "That'll save a lot of labor."
The remainder of the summer was busy for the family. Tom, with Isaac's help when he was home, was busy filling the hay loft of the barn with hay for the winter. Sally planted a fall garden and was also busy gathering wild berries, fruits, and nuts. Bess the cow, as Sally called her, produced plenty of milk and butter. The hens provided an adequate supply of fresh eggs. Sally was again able to fry eggs, as her morning sickness had subsided.
"We have enough corn to last us until we can plant and harvest our own," Tom said, after he had finished helping Henry Green harvest his corn crop. After Tom finished helping Henry, he set about the task of cutting a supply of firewood for the winter. Isaac managed to help some after the store closed each day.
Sally had a bumper crop of turnips that were stored in the root cellar. There was also a respectable crop of carrots, beets, and squash. A large amount of apples were stored in the root cellar and many more were dried. Isaac was amazed that a pregnant woman could accomplish so much.
As the cooler weather began, Sally was busy making quilts; and of course baby clothes. Tom surprised both Sally and Isaac by using tools found in the barn to make a cradle. After completing the cradle, Tom decided to make a table and some benches. They had been sitting on nail kegs when eating. Isaac had brought the nail kegs home from the store. While the table wasn't the quality of a furniture maker, it was very acceptable. Isaac purchased furniture for the parlor from a widow woman who was moving back to her family in Pennsylvania after her husband was killed in the war.
The winter was cold, but the house was warm, and the wood stove provided a warm comfortable home. Although there wasn't a large variety of vegetables there was always plenty of food on the table. A hog was butchered for meat, supplemented with wild game.
One evening Isaac came home from work and was surprised to see Gladys Green in the kitchen chatting with Sally like old friends while eating a slice of Sally's apple pie. "I thought it was about time I made a social call to welcome our new neighbors," Gladys said. "Sally, I believe this is the best apple pie I've ever tasted."
"Sally is a superb cook," Isaac agreed. "She took advantage of the apples from the orchard, and she also grew a decent fall garden too."
"Sally, I have plenty of extra seeds I'll share with you for your spring garden," Gladys said. "I also grew more butter beans and purple peas than I can use. Send Tom over with the wagon and I'll share with you. I also have extra pumpkins that I'll share."
"That's very kind of you," Sally said.
"I need to be on my way home," Gladys said. "Henry will be expecting supper soon. The three of you are invited to take supper with us Sunday evening."
"We would be pleased to join you for supper," Isaac said, when Sally found herself speechless. She wasn't used to be treated as an equal by whites.
It was January tenth when Sally began her labor pains. Tom was in a panic, so Isaac sent him to fetch Gladys who was a midwife and had agreed to assist with the delivery. Fortunately for both mother and father it was a short labor. Tom breathed a sigh of relief when Gladys announced that he was the father of a healthy baby boy.
"He's a handsome one," Isaac remarked when he first saw the baby. "Have you given him a name?"
"Tom and I would like to name him Nathan," Sally said. "That is, if it's alright with you."
"I'm sure Nathan would be honored," Isaac said.
Isaac and his family were happy in their new home and little Nathan added even more joy. However, this happiness was restrained when Isaac received a letter from John Tillery informing him that his cabin and barn in the Cherokee Nation had been burned and the newlywed couple living there had been killed. It wasn't determined if the killings had been done by Confederate or Union sympathizers.
Since Isaac was in the peaceful area of Illinois, the war had almost been as if it were in another country. There was always talk of the war in the store and among neighbors, but the letter from John brought it home to him.
As spring approached, Tom was busy from sunup until sundown preparing the fields for planting. Sally took Nathan with her each day to work in the very large garden. Isaac assumed the milking duties since the heifer Maggie, as Sally called her, gave birth to a fine heifer calf. Bess gave birth to a nice bull calf. There was a surplus of milk and butter, which were sold in town. There were new litters of pigs, and it appeared there would be plenty of meat for the table with a few for sale.
Gladys Green had given Sally some flax seeds and offered to teach her how to plant and later spin it to make fabric. Tom and Isaac planted the flax and planned to harvest it. In spite of the difference in age and race, Sally and Gladys were becoming close friends.
The war brought about a demand for food, and Tom and Isaac sold their excess crops for a nice profit. Although the family hadn't gone hungry the previous winter, they were much better prepared for winter as it approached.
Isaac and his family were happy and prospered in their new home. There were rumors that the war was winding down. Finally in April 1865 the newspapers reported that General Lee had surrendered at the Appomattox court house in Virginia. There were a few battles following the signing, but for the most part the war was over. June 23, 1865, nearly three months after Appomattox, General Stand Watie, a Cherokee, was the last Confederate general to surrender.
Although the war had ended, Isaac was in no hurry to return to the Cherokee Nation. After all he had no home to return to. The Cherokees had suffered badly during the war with a fourth of their population killed. To make matters worse, the federal government punished the Cherokees for their part in the war. It mattered little that the majority of the Cherokees took no part in the war, and many even fought on the Union side. The grasslands to the west, known as The Cherokee Outlet, were taken from the Cherokees. This had been a source of funding for the Cherokee government by leasing the land to Texas cattlemen.
In spite of the lost of funding, the Cherokees went about rebuilding their Nation. The male and female seminaries had closed during the war, and even though the Cherokees had lost major funding, they managed to reopen the seminaries.
Isaac had no immediate plans to return to the Cherokee Nation until his dreams again returned. "It's time to return to your people," his grandmother said in his dream.
"I'm returning to the Cherokee Nation," Isaac announced to Sally and Tom.
"Sally and I would like to remain here," Tom said. "We're treated well by the people here and we'd like to raise our children here.
Tom and Sally's family had grown in addition to Nathan, to include Isaac and Gladys. Isaac would miss Tom, Sally, and the children, but he knew he must return to the Cherokee Nation.
"I'd like to buy the livestock from you," Tom offered. "I'm sure you'll need at least one horse to ride home."
"You've more than earned the livestock; yours and Sally's hard work has more than earned what I paid you." Isaac said. "I won't need the horse since the railroad now goes all the way to the Three Forks area. They've built a station west of Fort Gibson and called it Gibson Station. I'll ride the train to there. It's only about 20 miles from Park Hill."
Three Forks is the confluence of the Arkansas, Verdigris and Grand Rivers (formerly called the Neosho, but the portion in Kansas and a small portion in Oklahoma is still referred to as the Neosho.) Chief William Ross, nephew of former Chief John Ross, had managed to block the railroad from passing through Tahlequah, the capital of the Cherokee Nation.
"I've lost all hope that my son will return home from the war and I was hopeful that you'd buy my farm," Ginny Wilson said, when Isaac informed her that he was going back to the Cherokee Nation.
"I brought Tom along with me since he and Sally will remain here," Isaac said. "He's interested in buying the farm."
"I'd take $5000 for it and the farm equipment," Ginny quickly said.
"I've saved about $4000," Tom said. "Would you be willing to take the $4000 now and let me make payments on the remaining $1000?"
"I would consider that if you could pay $200 a year for five years," Ginny said.
"I could manage that," Tom agreed.
"I'll have the papers drawn up and you can come back Wednesday and sign them," Ginny said. "Can you read and write?"
"Yes, I learned a little when I was in Arkansas and then Isaac taught Sally and me more after we escaped from slavery," Tom said, no longer afraid to admit that he and Sally were escaped slaves.
Before Isaac departed the following Monday, Sally presented him with some fine bed linens that she had made from her flax crop. "These are too nice to use," Isaac said, as he examined the linens.
"They're to be used," Sally admonished him. "When you come back for a visit, I'll give you another set."
"Alright, I'll use them," Isaac agreed. "I'll miss you, Tom, and the children."
"We'll all miss you," Tom said. "You and Nathan were always kind to us and treated us as equals."
As Isaac stood on the platform at the depot waiting for his train, he gave each of the children a hug and a kiss. Nathan was old enough to understand that Isaac was going away, but Isaac wasn't sure if Isaac and Gladys were old enough to understand.
Isaac said his last goodbye when the train arrived. Nathan ran and jumped in his arms and said, "Uncle Isaac, please don't go."
"I have to go," Isaac said. "I want you to promise that you'll be a good boy for your parents and take good care of Isaac and Gladys."
"I promise," Nathan said, as he wiped tears from his eyes.
Isaac arrived at Gibson Station five days after departing Springfield. This was vastly different than the long horseback ride to Springfield. Isaac managed to purchase a horse and saddle before riding on to Park Hill.
John Tillery was elated to see his friend return home. "You'll stay with Mary and me as long as you need," John said.
"That's very kind of you," Isaac said. "I understand there is nothing left on the farm."
"Tom and Sally's cabin somehow survived the burning," John said. "I'm not sure of its condition."
"I'll go there tomorrow and see if it is habitable," Isaac said.
After determining that the cabin would be habitable with some minor repairs, Isaac borrowed John's wagon and team and rode to Tahlequah to purchase a bed, mattress, table, chair, and a wood cook stove. Isaac was lonely in his little cabin. He missed Tom and his family.
Another clerk had already been employed to work in the mercantile, so Isaac was without a job. However, he was busy rehabilitating the farm. Isaac hired a carpenter to replace the former cabin with a wood frame house. It was a four room house with a wraparound porch.
One day while purchasing supplies in Park Hill, Isaac saw a posting that the Cherokee Nation needed teachers for its common schools. "You should apply," John Tillery said when he saw Isaac reading the notice.
"I have no experience in teaching," Isaac argued.
"You had no experience as a clerk when you came to work here," John countered. "You did a fine job. Didn't you teach Tom and Sally to read and write? Besides, you were educated at the missionary school back east."
Isaac was hired to teach at the Park Hill Common School.
"You'll be teaching with Joseph Collins," Isaac was told upon being hired.
Isaac was at the school preparing for classes a few days before the start of the school year when a gentleman who was about his age appeared. "Hello, I'm Joseph Collins," he said. "Are you the other teacher?"
"Yes, I'm Isaac Hampton," Isaac said. He immediately liked the man.
"I've just arrived from Adair Town," Joseph said. "I thought I'd arrive early and find the school. I also need to find a place to live."
"There aren't many places around here," Isaac said. "I live alone and have an extra bedroom I could let you have. I live on the east side of the Illinois River."
"I'd be pleased to rent a room from you," Joseph said.
"I bathe over there in the creek during warm days," Isaac said, as they turned their horses to pasture that evening.
"After my ride here I could use a good bath," Joseph said.
"I could too, but first I'll cook supper," Isaac said.
Isaac and Joseph enjoyed a meal of a freshly butchered chicken and the bounties of Isaac's garden. Joseph helped wash the dishes and then they walked down to the creek for a bath.
"Do you not have a family?" Joseph asked, as they walked to the creek.
"No, they're all gone," Isaac said. "Nathan was killed early in the war by Confederate raiders. He's buried over there by that big oak tree."
"Was Nathan your brother?"
"No, Nathan was my lover."
Joseph stopped suddenly and said, "My lover was also killed in the war. We both joined the Union army; he was killed the first year."
"The only good I saw of the war was the freeing of the slaves," Isaac said, as they arrived at the creek.
"Yes, that's why Andy and I joined the Union army," Joseph said.
"This is where I bathe," Isaac said, as he stripped and went naked into the cool clear Barren Fork water.
When Joseph stripped and joined Isaac in the water, Isaac noticed a large scar on Joseph's left thigh.
"It's from a Confederate bullet," Joseph explained.
Isaac and Joseph soon became lovers. They continued teaching until retirement. They lived on the farm that Nathan and Isaac had settled on until their deaths. Both were buried next to Nathan near the oak tree.