When Sherman made his march through Georgia, he missed Frank’s farm by a mere 10 miles. All Frank owned was tied up in his 80-acre farm. It was rumored that he treated Josh more like a son than a slave. Of course, at six feet, six inches, no one had the courage to say anything to his face. Frank and Josh had a handshake contract.
Josh had one daughter named Mary Elizabeth. He and his wife felt blessed to have Frank and Ellie. It was a close-knit family but both families were very careful to hide their feelings. Johnny was Frank’s pride and joy. He was only one year older than Mary Elizabeth was, yet he held down a full-time job on the farm. With the war or without the war, that little spread was just enough and not an inch more.
Over the years, gossip spread about the lantern light burning late into the evening in Frank’s barn. It seems that Miss Ellie was using Johnny’s old school books to teach Mary Elizabeth. Often they would call on Johnny for help. Ellie knew this young girl had a special calling. It was so sad that Mary Elizabeth could not go to the public school. Now it was time for hate to raise its ugly head. Someone discovered that Miss Ellie was teaching Mary Elizabeth. The Klan burned down the barn and Josh was given a week to get out of town. Frank never ran from fear but he feared for Josh’s family. Johnny was heading to college soon and he knew he could not hold down the farm by himself. With all the big farms coming, it would not be long before all the little farmers would be heading to the big cities.
Even ol’ Bill Bart would be moving soon. Frank knew who burned him out but he was a man of great forgiveness. With the small amount of money he received from the sale of the farm, Frank bought a two-story house with a small garage attached.
“Josh, you get to packing. All our belongings can fit on one truck. We will be working on anything that needs fixing.” Josh replied, “What about Mary Elizabeth? There ain’t no schools and Miss Ellie can’t risk teaching her.” “Well Josh, since this concerns Mary Elizabeth, I think we need to have a family meeting.”
That evening, everyone gathered to discuss Mary Elizabeth’s future. Miss Ellie spoke first. “My sister lives in Maryland. I told her you could be tested and placed in a class, at least tenth grade level.” Johnny chimed in “at least twelfth grade!” You could tell Mary was nervous but she trusted everyone in the room.
Time moved on. So much work came in that Frank had to find a bigger place. Mary entered the ninth grade but by years end she was in her first year of college. Before everyone could blink, Mary graduated at the top of her class as a highly acclaimed physician. She wanted to be close to home and she could write her own check.
Atlanta had rebuilt and opportunity was around every corner. Mr. Frank and Josh had risen to a rank among the upper class. As life would have it, Bill Bart came asking for a job. Frank and Josh readily agreed to put him to work.
A few years went past. Bill Bart turned out to be a good worker yet he could not resist making jokes behind Josh’s back. One day, he dropped his wrench and fell to the floor. By today’s standards, it would be slow, but they finally got him to the hospital. The consensus was that he needed to have heart surgery. As he lay there waiting for a final decision, a group of doctors walked in. The head surgeon introduced him to the person he called the best heart specialist in the South. “Meet Miss Mary Elizabeth, your heart surgeon.”