Thursday, January 14, 2016

As Mary Elizabeth

Continued from yesterday...

My grandfather, David, with his father, Joe with their mules.

            Travel across the country wasn't as easy in 1915 as it is today. The stamina of my great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth moving from Iowa to Pennsylvania with two small children amazes me.        
            Two weeks after their move, another son was born to the family.
            A few generations further back, women held seasick children in treacherous journeys across the wide ocean to find a home where they could worship in freedom.
            Travel was even more difficult when Abraham told Sarah they were packing their tents and moving to a strange land that God would show them.
            Noah's wife did not have the support of friends when her husband informed her of God's command to build an ark and his intention to abandon everything familiar in order to obey God.
            We can only guess at the reaction of Sarah or Noah's wife. Did they question their husband's sanity? Did they resent the need to pull up stakes? Did they worry about their children's future if their parents were radical in their obedience to God? We don't know.

            Neither do I know my great-grandmother's reaction to her husband's decision to move east. Mary Elizabeth had family in Pennsylvania, which perhaps made the move easier. But they were exchanging deep, rich farmland for rocky soil. Joe would never be a wealthy man. At the end of his life, he was training mules and milking sixteen cows on the same few acres in southern Pennsylvania.
            But Mary Elizabeth had more in common with Sarah and Noah's wife than a change in location. Like Abraham and Noah, her husband was concerned about the evil influences around him. He was aware that spiritual victory may mean sacrifice, possibly even a change of occupation and a new home. Today, one hundred years later, I can trace the faithfulness of my great-grandparents and rejoice n a Godly heritage they gave to me.

            Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham calling him “lord,” even as Noah's wife followed her husband into an ark that was the saving of her household, even as my great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth endured the discomforts of a mid-winter train trip heavy with child - so I desire to support my husband in his decision to follow God regardless of the sacrifice of personal comfort.


  1. What a wonderful "object lesson" (for my lack of a better term)! I think if we all would reflect on our heritage we could learn so much. Both of my grandfathers,ironically,left southern PA to come up here to work in the oil fields around Bradford. Here they met and married,and subsequently had my parents. All of those folks are gone now, but what a legacy they have left! Although our family has gotten smaller through the years,we still are many. In a relatively small area,there are alot of descendants from those two men who came to look for work "up north" in the 1920's. I like to think they'd be proud of the Christian heritage they started.

    1. I guess my typing didn't keep up with my grandfathers met and married their wives! OOPS!!

  2. "Today, one hundred years later, I can trace the faithfulness of my great-grandparents and rejoice in a Godly heritage they gave to me." Gina, I too, am grateful for the Godly heritage my Anabaptist great grandparent on both sides of the family have passed on to us. I enjoyed reading your short story.

  3. "Like Abraham and Noah, her husband was concerned about the evil influences around him."

    If the world in those days concerned him, I can not imagine what he would think of today's world!

    It was so brave of them to move like that. They must have truly felt the Lord was leading them.

  4. The last thing you said really struck me. A confirmation, I believe.

    I rejoice for you and my other Anabaptist friends/ sisters who have this godly heritage and share it with those of us who do not.

  5. Hi Gina,

    Knowing one's family history is such a blessing - especially if it is on of a Christian heritage. I've had the benefit of being raised by my Grandmother, born in 1906. Later, I developed a close relationship with my husband's grandmother, born in 1912.
    My grandmother grew up in Omaha, NE, where automobiles, trains, factories, and indoor plumbing were quickly becoming the norm.
    Whereas my husband's grandmother grew up on a farm in western OK, with no electricity, no indoor plumbing AND never rode in an automobile until the 1930's. My husband's step father (who was much older than my mother-in-law) moved from Missouri to Amarillo, TX in 1924. His mother, grandmother and younger siblings made the move in an old truck while he, his dad and grandfather made the move in the family's covered wagon.
    They all have passed so much knowledge and history onto me and our family, it is a treasure.
    Sometimes it is hard to imagine that less than 100 years ago, it was common for some areas of our nation to still be using horse & wagons, out-houses, and kerosene lamps.
    I hope your children and grandchildren will pass the knowledge, lessons and Christian heritage of your family on to their children and grandchildren.



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