New Orleans, Louisiana
The old camelback trunk in my mother’s attic had always intrigued me. When I asked about its contents, she said it contained “just some old books and papers.” It originally belonged to my grandmother and had belonged to her mother before that. Past those generations its provenance was uncertain.
With my mother’s passing, the old trunk belonged to me. Unfortunately, it was locked, and there was no key to be found. Not wanting to destroy such a fine old trunk just to satisfy my curiosity, I tucked it into a corner of my attic with the expectation I would eventually find the key somewhere in my mother’s possessions. There it sat, forgotten for nine years.
That changed when I was cleaning out some files that included my parent’s old income tax filings. A strange lump at the bottom of one of the folders turned out to be a key, and my first thought was, this is the key to the trunk!
I went immediately up to the attic and pulled the old trunk out of its corner. I was more than a little apprehensive about what I might find when I opened it. Did it contain some dark family secrets that should remain locked away? After mustering up my courage, I inserted the old key. It fit, and the lock loosened its hold on the old trunk’s secrets.
My mother was right. It did contain some “old books and papers”. The “books” were the personal diaries of a woman named Rachel. The “papers”, nearly two thousand handwritten pages, were secured in four neat bundles with red ribbon. They turned out to be a manuscript written by a man named Ethan. I also found a portfolio of drawings by Rachel and bundles of letters they had written to each other. The documents dated from five years before the Civil War through its end in 1865 and a few years after.
With only a cursory examination of the trunk’s contents, I realized I was in possession of something very special. The diaries and the manuscript, though written by two different people, were companion pieces telling the same beautiful story from two different perspectives.
Catahoula Book 1 – The Last Day of Forever tells how they met, how they fell in love, and how their love was challenged. It carries their story up to the start of the Civil War.
The Legend of Rachel and Ethan continues in Catahoula Book 2 – An Eternity of Four Years, which takes their story through the turbulent years of the Civil War.
Their story is told in their own words taken from his manuscript and her journals.
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