That was the Place

The doorway of Mizpah.

Go to a place almost forgotten.

It could be anywhere.

I take a walk in the world surrounding my book, Sons of the EdistoAt the end of a path sits a one-room, meeting house. Mizpah was a church created by Methodists in the nineteenth century.

The town around it, Buford’s Bridge, was burned by General Sherman’s troops during the American Civil War. According to legend, Mizpah was used as a stable for the Union Army’s horses.

The historic white church—surrounded by graves and trees with Spanish moss—first captured my imagination when I was ten. I went with my parents and grandparents to a family reunion at Mizpah Church. The five families are the descendents of those who originally lived in Buford’s Bridge.

I won the South Carolina Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Creative Writing in the fifth grade. I wrote an essay about Mizpah.

All I remember about that essay is the award, and how  I described the autumn air as smelling like bacon.

I confess I have no idea where I came up with that description, but Mizpah’s inspiration remained with me long after my much-loved paternal grandparents died.

 

“A white wooden sign reads Mizpah Methodist Church. The black iron gate is closed. Groves of oaks hide the church.” ~ Description from Sons of the Edisto, by R.T. Dickinson.

Sons of the Edisto is a small part in a world made up of research, interviews, true stories, news stories, politics, photography and art. That world began with Mizpah.

I was hesitant to tell any of my father’s relatives about Sons of the Edisto and related projects, such as From Red Loam—a short story collection– or  my photography collection. Six years after I began research, I hardly talk about Mizpah, Sons of the Edisto, or the work I’ve accomplished with relatives or close friends.

I talk or write about that world with other writers, authors and professionals. When I was first inspired by that little church in the middle of nowhere, I was a kid in a Little Mermaid t-shirt.

Writing for Sons of the Edisto commenced when I was 21. I knew then my book and its research would most likely take me a decade, and I am more than halfway there.

All it took to start that commitment was a place almost forgotten; a place remembered by descendents of five families once a year and a little known writer.

By Rebecca T. Dickinson

© 2006-2012 by R.T. Dickinson. All rights reserved. No part of Sons of the Edisto, From Red Loam, or material related to the manuscripts may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of R.T. Dickinson.

4 thoughts on “That was the Place

    1. Thank you, Vikki! I have a drawing of it framed on my wall, and it captured my attention. I knew, before I began writing my novel, I would have to write something about Mizpah.

  1. I like this post a lot. I like historical details and how they have inspired something else. There is something interesting to me to visit the ghosts of times past, but to let it ride in a new way. There is a church near where I grew up that inspired a short story where I once did.

    1. Thank you, Elliot! I appreciate it. I have wanted to tie in my novel to my blog without giving the book away. The research and the pictures seemed to fit. Historical details are often more interesting, to me also, than what others try to make up. I am fascinated by things that really happened. How old was the church that inspired you? Did it have gothic look or a classic look?

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