In this final chapter of the three part series of “Touched,” we find out what “Touched” really means.
Jay got up and went into the house. He came back carrying his guitar and a Bible. He lay the Bible on the table and looked at Bill and asked, "Do you read from the good book?"
Bill shook his head saying, "Never learned how to read, but my mother used to read from it.” Jay opened the Bible and read a verse . The kids sat very still and Jay could see that he had their attention. He read several verses and then he picked up his guitar and began to sing. He told them to join in if they knew the words. When the LeCroys left, Jay felt good. The LeCroys were his first friends since he came back from the war.
Word went though the settlement about Jay reading the good book and singing the hymns. A meeting and a committee was formed to go to Jay and talk to him. Jay was sitting in his swing with his guitar when he saw a buggy turned into his drive way. He could see that it was some of the people in the settlement. They pulled up and waited for Jay to speak. Back in those days you didn't get out until you were invited. Jay waved his hand saying, "Get out neighbors and come in.”
They began to unload and came up on the porch where Jay sat. He waved them to a seat. He was surprised and was anxious to hear what they had on their mind.
The speaker for the group was Earl Willits. Earl was a loud talker and went right into what their visit was about. The people in the settlement wanted to come over on Sunday and listen to Jay read the Bible and sing hymns. He waited, looking at Jay for him to speak. In a soft voice Jay said,
"I am no preacher, but if the people want to hear the good book read, then I would feel it to be an honor to do so. As for the singing of hymns, only if the people will join in."
It grew quiet for a few minutes, then Earl said, "Jay, we wish to rebuild our little log church.”
Jay spoke in the quiet voice that the people was used to.
"I have thought a lot about rebuilding the church. There is enough of us if we get together, we could have a place for Bible reading before cold weather."
They made plans to start the church so they would have a church to go to when the cold winter months moved in.
Jay walked around in the new church admiring it. The people in the settlement had come through like they said they would. When the little church had been burned down, Moses and his family had managed to save the benches and the pulpit. With everything in place, Jay stood by waiting for the people. He heard the first one arrive and went to greet them. Earl Willits was the first to enter the new church as a member. It was said that it was in this little church Earl Willits was laid to rest many years later. The sermon was preached by the settlement’s own preacher.
The settlement grew as did the church. A sign in front of the church read: “Founded by John Jay Stone Sr. Destroyed by fire and restored by the Pea Ridge Settlement. John Jay Stone Jr. officiating.”
It was said where the little log church once stood now is covered with water. The people of the Pea Ridge settlement admits that Jay was touched. Jay was not touched in the head, but in the heart. He was full of love and compassion for his fellow man.
Lonie Adcock of Rome is a retired Rome Police Department lieutenant. His latest book is “Fact or Fiction.”