Sixteen generations later the saga goes full circle and comes to a close. Raised on Old-Time Country Cooking revisits major events in the three novels. Menus, cooking methods, and recipes spanning over two centuries paint a clear picture of how each generation nourished their families and celebrated grand occasions. The book opens at the La Burelle near Ollioules, France, with the grand "send-off" of their youngest surgeon who anxiously bid farewell to his family for his rendezvous with destiny in America. When Dr. Burel married in Philadelphia, the French couple loaded their covered wagon and headed down the Great Wagon Road toward the backcountry of South Carolina. They were forced to leave behind hundreds of years of family traditions and conform to the unforgiving raw frontier. Surviving off the fat of the land, he and his Acadian French bride adapted old French recipes and developed new ones.
Turning back the pages of time, the winding roads and blazed trails take us back home. Upon arrival at the old homeplace, the favorite room in the house is found: Mama's kitchen. As we climb the old doorsteps, familiar sounds of pots and pans, aromas of good food in the air, and tastes of years gone by float in and out of our senses. Suddenly, visions of supper around the long oak table by the dim oil lamp bring back childhood memories and squeeze our hearts. The sizzling sounds of Mama frying chicken on the old woodstove reminds us her kitchen offered southern hospitality at its best. Visions of swirling meringues on chocolate pies cooling on the screened window shelf, and Grandpa's old French muscadine wine hid away in the cellar are as clear as yesterday. These old-time recipes and family celebrations rekindle the true meaning of Mama's favorite picture still hanging on the wall: Home Sweet Home. Suddenly, hot tears blur our vision and we stop and ask: where did all the years go?
Wiping away the tears, we stop and pay tribute to our ancestors whose dreams reached across sixteen generations and warmed our hearts. As we remember how our kinfolk bravely navigated the Atlantic Ocean, trekked down deep-rutted muddy roads, crossed broad rivers, and dared to stand tall on their beliefs, we clearly understand. Blessed with a renewed appreciation of their gutsy and unyielding convictions that won independence from England, tamed the raw frontier, survived the Civil War, coped with the Great Depression, and won two World Wars, we pause with ultimate pride and admiration. It was a story worth telling!
Daring Pioneers Tame the Frontier is an exquisite saga of Dr. Jean (John) Baptiste Elzèar Burel's lifelong desire to cross the Atlantic Ocean to the beckoning new America. With his naval surgeon license in one hand and his medical chest in the other, he followed Marquis de Lafayette to Colonial America during the Revolutionary War. During the war he fell passionately in love and married a beautiful Acadian French woman in Philadelphia. After the war they made plans to return to his home at Ollioules, France.
Homeward bound, the bourgeois doctor boarded the ship in Philadelphia with his new bride and their few belongings. There on deck he was unexpectedly forced to choose between his beloved homeland and family in France and his wife with child. Disembarking the ship with grave disappointment, John knowingly forfeited his inheritance as sole heir. Struggling to survive in Philadelphia, oftentimes John sat quietly admiring the beautiful woman who owned his heart as he secretly yearned for his prominent family and lifestyle on the Mediterranean Coast of France.
Standing on the threshold of the newly independent America, the young doctor decided to take his wife and infant son and pioneer down the Great Wagon Road into the raw frontier of South Carolina. Believing he would build a new and prosperous life, he settled at Goshen Hill between the Tyger and Enoree Rivers within the lawless backcountry of South Carolina. Fighting the dangers and hardships of the frontier, and the recurring restlessness to return to France, John and his family carved out a simple life. Although disappointed at times, within the walls of his log home the enduring love and warmth of his wife and six children transcended adversity and hardships of the outside world. The heartwarming story is filled with humanity as John faced his inevitable destiny. The first novel in the trilogy closes with Dr. Burel's widow standing helplessly in her front yard watching the wagon train take her spirited children and grandchildren west in search of richer land and prosperity. It was déjà vu!
Spanning four centuries, this saga is a testament to the author's uncompromising vision to recapture the life and times of one man and his family in search of the American Dream. Bringing to life the colorful characters who blazed trails into the raw frontier, some critics compared her meticulously researched writing and techniques of creative nonfiction to the writings of Kenneth Roberts and Bernard DeVoto.
The Second Novel of the Trilogy: The Generations That Built and Saved America
Raised Country Style from South Carolina to Mississippi: Civil War Transforms America by Bettye B. Burkhalter
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 Riley 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.
The Third Novel of the Trilogy: The Generations That Built and Saved America
The Generation that Saved America: Surviving the Great Depression & World War II by Bettye B. Burkhalter
The Generation that Saved America opens with the continuing story of the Burel family as they faced the rise of a New South during and after Reconstruction. John Harrison, son of William Riley and great-grandson of Dr. John Burel, was just a toddler when his family pioneered over 600 miles in covered wagons from South Carolina to Mississippi. As a young man, he proudly helped William Riley bellwether his family through the aftermath of the tragic Civil War and into the rebirth of the New South. His relentless determination to succeed, and his never wavering faith in young America's future built a good life for him and his family.
Sit back and enjoy one of the great storytellers of all time as his grandson, Cecil
Allen Burrell, The Man Himself, revisits his Grandpa's old farm and great house built around 1899 — the place where he was born and raised as a child. On a cold December morning, feel the biting north wind when Grandpa walked out on the front porch, cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, "It's hog-killing day!" Join the bustling families as they rushed to the great house to slaughter and butcher a dozen hogs to carry them through the winter. With great anticipation, summer finally arrived bringing old-time gospel singing and preaching to their little country church on the hill. Mama rose early that Sunday morning and filled her basket to the brim with fried chicken, biscuits, and sweet potato pies. After preaching there was going to be another dinner on the ground, and she was ready. Without a doubt, those were the good years.
But all that changed. Walk with the Burrell family as they helplessly watched the reckless Roaring Twenties bring a flourishing economy to a halt. Feel John Harrison's pain during the Great Depression as his home and last 640-acre farm were snatched away by the local bank and sold for the few dollars' debt borrowed against his Deed of Trust. In the midst of despair from every direction, and while President Roosevelt struggled to prop up the economy, the faltering country was jolted once again when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Cecil shares the chilling and rewarding story of how one of their own airmen missing in action for over sixty years was discovered and brought home with full military honors. On Memorial Day at Arlington Cemetery, President George W. Bush acknowledged the airmen who went down into the Mediterranean Sea that fateful day so long ago. As we all watched the President it proudly reminded us our World War II freedom fighters were the generation that saved America.
On the heels of the Great Depression and World War II, The Man Himself, Cecil A. Burrell, gives a detailed account of how he and his family survived during and after the Depression and navigated their way back into prosperity. Working smartly and tirelessly with their eyes on the future, they eventually claimed their part of the American dream — the same dream brought to America in 1778 by their Great3-Grandfather, Dr. Jean-Baptiste Elzèar Burel.