The saga continues with Dr. Burel’s children moving west. His son James led the Mississippi-bound wagons from South Carolina into another untamed frontier. Their first Christmas in Attalaville, Mississippi, was a grand celebration of their newfound life, only to have the New Year bring tragedy.
Mississippi’s Golden Years brought prosperity to the pioneers as landowners and independent farmers. Too soon the Civil War swept across their land leaving King Cotton reeling and survivors coping with shattered lives. Sympathetic eyes of the world watched as they searched for ways to survive the aftermath of total war. Lisbeth Burel struggled with the heartbreak of losing the war, her husband James, and her youngest son. Bracing to survive post-war defeat and economic ruination, Lisbeth and her oldest son learned to cope with the nagging pain and hatred of a useless war. With the burden of the world on William Riley’s back, he turned to God and self-reliance to get them through the bleak future. Recovery was slow, and families joined hands to plant new fields of cotton, corn, and sorghum cane.
Thirty years of worry and hard work turned William into an old, sick man long before his time. On a cold October morning, the stooped and frail man shuffled toward the sugarcane mill and furnace. Assuring the old family recipe and tradition continued, he taught his grandson how to cook molasses to be as smooth as silk. A couple months later William’s family celebrated the biggest Christmas since the war. Sadly, two days later the celebration was marred as his thirteen proud children mourned the loss of their Pa. After the war, William Riley took great pain to instill the belief that they, and their kind, were the moral fiber offering the best hope for rebuilding the New South. And they were.