Wednesday, January 13, 2016

As Mary Elizabeth

Pulling an article from my files in which I imagine some details of a true event in the life of my great-grandparents over a hundred years ago.

Joe and his mules at the auction in Iowa
            “Who will start the bid on this fine team of mules?”
            The voice of the auctioneer droned as Mary Elizabeth pulled her shawl tight against the raw February wind. Her husband, Joe, walked the team around the barnyard while the neighbors sat watching from the rail fence.
            “Sold - to the man in the blue hat,” called the auctioneer.
            Snow crunched underfoot as Mary Elizabeth plodded to the house. Maybe I can finish packing and clean up the kitchen before the auction ends. Already she had packed the bedding and dishes in the large trunk.

            The door banged open to admit two small boys. Mary Elizabeth turned from sweeping out the ashes in the cook stove and poured two mugs of milk. “Come, David and Harold. Eat quickly while your father loads the bobsled.”
            Moments later, Joe poked his head into the kitchen, letting in another blast of cold air. “Is the trunk ready?”
            Mary Elizabeth looked up from folding her apron. “Almost. I couldn't get the clasp fastened.”
            Joe and Mr. Cadwell, a neighbor, heaved the trunk out the door into the waiting bobsled.
            “Ready to go?” Joe asked. “The train won't wait.” He reached for Mary Elizabeth's hand to help her into the wagon. She tucked the blanket around the boys, then glanced back at the little house she had called home.

            During the three-mile trip to the train station Mary Elizabeth gazed at the frozen Iowa landscape. She remembered when she had come to this area to work. Here she had met and married Joe. Her husband had toiled in these flat fields, since he had been a small boy. After Joe's father died when he was eight, Joe had worked like a man, encouraging the rich, black earth to yield tall corn.
            But now they were leaving these fields behind and were moving to Pennsylvania. Mary Elizabeth dreaded the long train ride, the jolting of the rails, the two sleepless nights, and the frigid mid-winter cold. She glanced over at her husband and remembered their long conversations that brought them to this decision. In the past months, Joe had been thinking hard about the future. In the past, he had dabbled in a life of sin and knew that his old friends' drinking parties would hinder his newfound walk with God. 
           Would a move to a new area give him a chance to start fresh? Mary Elizabeth hoped it would. 

To Be Continued....

My great-grandparents, Joe and Mary Elizabeth Hawbaker, as newlyweds.



  1. No fair!! I am so interested and now you are forcing patience. Teasing aside,I can't wait for your next installment because this is my type of history! I hope all is settling in at your house. Babies are a blessing,to be sure..but still an adjustment. Ours hasn't arrived yet. I think I am more impatient than my daughter!

  2. I can't wait to read the next part.

  3. Looking forward to reading more!

  4. Good story! I look forward to the next installment. Magazines and newspapers used to run serial stories this way.
    Haven is a whole week old, now, practically an old lady! ;) I wish you all blessings galore.

  5. you caught my interest
    want more

  6. Hey! I think I know the ending of this story!!!
    It is even more meaningful since I have been
    'grafted' into this heritage.


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