Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Until 2012...

You may have noticed my lack of posting in recent weeks. A short trip for a wedding, some special projects, and general life have been calling my attention away from blogging. We attempt to keep our Christmas simple and meaningful but it still we have extra events on our calendar. While I'd love to share some of our favorite family recipes and seasonal celebrations, I think I need to step away from blogging for a time to focus on my family for a while.

I'll be back in the new year. In the mean time, cherish the time spent with your loved ones.

From our family to yours, may you have a blessed Christmas!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

One Hundred Years Later

Thank you for your interest in New Mules in Pennsylvania. I thought I'd share a little more about my grandfather's family.

My great grandfather, Joe Hawbaker, grew up in Iowa. I always assumed he moved to Pennsylvania for good farming land. I love my state and thought I could understand why a person would want to move here! But I didn't understand the difference between farming in Iowa and farming in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania has rocks. I've been told that our area here in Pennsylvania contains a specific kind of limestone that is far harder than general rock. Joe, accustomed to the deep Iowa soil, had a real challenge adjusting to farming in Pennsylvania.

It was only this year that I learned the probably purpose that led Joe to move his family to Pennsylvania. Joe recognized that near his home in Iowa was some evil influences that was affecting the young men of the community. Joe chose to move his young sons to a different area.

I never met Joe. He died many years before I was born. I'm sure he wasn't perfect, no father is. But I'm grateful for his willingness to make a life changing choice to protect his family.

Was the sacrifice worth it? Today, many of Joe's descendants are following the Lord. There is a huge contrast with Joe's family and the descendants of his brothers who remained in Iowa.

I can't help but wonder, a hundred years from now, what will my great-grandchildren say about the choices Ed and I make for our family. Will they point out area of compromise? Or will they gratefully remember the wise direction that we led our family?

Monday, December 5, 2011

New Mules in Pennsylvania

Nearly one hundred years ago, a young boy boarded a train on a bitter cold day in February. He was leaving his home in Iowa for a new home several states away. With him was his father, mother and younger brother.

Earlier in that day, an auction had been held at their farm. All the animals and most of the farm machinery had been sold. The boy's dad was well known for his well trained mules and horses. Photographs were rare in their home, but a friend who owned a camera, took some photos at the auction of the horses and mules with their owner and his two small sons.

All my life, I've heard this story of this six year old boy who grew up to be my grandfather. The photos were family treasures. In his later years, my grandfather wrote down the story of his family's move from Iowa to Pennsylvania in 1915.

I'm not sure what prompted it, but last winter, Ed challenged me to turn my grandfather's story into a children's story book. He knows I love family history, and his skills as a printer could turn the project into a reality.

For a children's story, I needed far more photos than the few old ones we treasured. My two boys are six and four, the exact ages of my grandfather and his brother at the time of the move.

I photographed my boys in settings similar to the story. We visited a steam train, a mule barn, and the old train station, but unfortunately, didn't make it to Iowa.

With the help of some friends with editing skills, the book was finished in time for my Dad's birthday in November. It was such fun seeing him read the story to his grandchildren saying, "This is a story about my dad."

If you have ever considered writing down your family stories, I would highly recommend it. My only regret is that I didn't do this years earlier when my grandfather was alive to answer my questions.  With the ease of scanning photos and making photo books, you can have a treasure for your family. I chose to have my book printed by a local print shop but many online companies will also make photo books for you for about $12.00 for a book the size of mine. Use a coupon or order several and your cost will decrease per book. But the memories treasured in a photo book are priceless.

My goal in writing the book was to record memories for my family but I was asked if I would sell copies to others. For this week, I'm opening it up for orders. If you'd like a story from one hundred years ago about a boy's move to a new state, send me an email. (walkingbymyside @ gmail.com) The book is softcover, 9x6 inches, and 40 pages. It costs $8.00 plus $2.00 shipping in the US. I will accept Paypal or check.

If you want a copy, please let me know within a week. That will give me to time to mail it to you before Christmas. I don't know if these books will ever be available again, so get it while you can!

And if you recognize these photos because you share the same grandfather, I'll be bringing some books to our Christmas family gathering. Hope you enjoy it as much as our family has!


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