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Friday, December 27, 2013

Lancaster's Native Americans

A candlelight vigil will be held at 6 p.m. today to mark the 250th anniversary of the massacre of the Conestoga tribe at the former Lancaster workhouse. On Dec. 27, 1763 — 250 years ago — Scots-Irish vigilantes from miles to the north rode into Lancaster, then a borough of about 2,000 residents, to finish a job they began 13 days earlier, when they had slaughtered six Conestogas at their village in Manor Township. The Conestogas were the victims of a string of broken promises, the last of which resulted in their slaughter.
A treaty signed in 1701 by William Penn, gave the Conestogas 3,000 acres of prime Manor Township wilderness to call home, and he also pledged that the English and Conestogas "shall forever hereafter be as one Head & One Heart."
It was an ecstatic promise that lasted only 16 years. Penn's sons had designs on the Conestogas' extensive holdings and whittled it down to 400 acres.
Despite that first broken promise, the Conestogas remained peaceful and began assimilating with the growing number of settlers who became their neighbors. The Conestogas learned English, adopted English dress and remained loyal to the crown during the seven-year French and Indian War, which ended the same year as the Conestogas' demise.
Sure that they enjoyed the respect and protection of their neighbors and provincial officials, a Conestoga elder named Sheehays once scoffed at the notion that angry settlers would do them harm, saying, "The English will wrap me in their matchcoat and secure me from all danger." Sheehays tragically misjudged the English.
At dawn on Dec. 14, 1763, about 50 armed riders from the Paxton area of what is now Dauphin County attacked the Conestogas' humble, defenseless settlement in Manor Township. They fired into the huts, set the dwellings on fire, killed three men, two women and a boy, and left with booty and scalps.
A treaty was salvaged from the Indians' burned-out village. It was the 1701 document signed by William Penn granting the Conestogas "the full and free privileges and immunities" of English law. The treaty assured the Conestogas that they and the English "shall forever be as one head and one heart, and live in true friendship and amity as one people."
Because of snowfall, 13 other Conestogas who had been making the rounds peddling their brooms and baskets had not made it home the previous night. Now homeless in the dead of winter, those 13, plus a boy who escaped the first massacre, accepted the offer of Lancaster County's chief magistrate, Edward Shippen III, to take shelter in Lancaster's workhouse, a newly finished brick building — next to the jail — that was intended for the correction of beggars, drunkards and other nuisance offenders.
The Conestogas trusted that Shippen and others in Lancaster would protect them if, as seemed likely, the raiders from Paxton returned to try to complete their bloody work.
They did return, 13 days after the first attack. More than 50 vigilantes rode in, and were confronted at the workhouse by only two men. Both of them — Sheriff John Hay and Coroner Matthias Slough — feared for their safety and stepped aside.
Shippen's failure to assure the Conestogas safety in the workhouse was the ultimate broken promise.
Unlike the earlier plot to annihilate the Indians in their village, the raiders on Dec. 27, 1763, executed their plan perfectly. Not a single member of the tribe escaped a fatal thrust or blow. All died in the snow-covered yard, victims of heartless men. Victims, too, of the last of many empty promises.
On the afternoon after the second massacre, the jail keeper heaped the 14 bodies of the Conestogas onto a wagon, took them to a Mennonite family cemetery on Cherry Alley, and dumped the load into a large hole.
Into the pit fell the bodies of three married couples, Kyunqueagoah, known as Captain Jack, and his wife, Betty, or Koweenasee; Tenseedaagua and his wife, Kanianguas, and Saquies-hat-tah and his wife, Chee-na-wan. Also tossed were the bodies of five boys, Quaachow, Shae-e-kah, Ex-undas, Tong-quas and Hy-ye-naes, and of three girls, Ko-qua-e-un-quas, Karen-do-uah and Canu-kie-sung.
Lancaster's Moravian pastor, Albrecht Ludolph Russmeyer, shook his head. "They were all thrown on top of one another in a hole, without a blanket or cover, like a dog," he wrote, "and the onlookers said, 'That is not right, that is accursed, that is shameful.' "
Dirt was thrown upon the bodies, and Lancaster washed its hands of the Conestogas. The killers saw themselves as above the law and acted accordingly. Lancaster's leaders chose to let the killers get away with murder and no justice was ever served.

The tragedy cannot be reversed, but today, 250 years later, the fourteen innocent victims will be honored and the error of their murder acknowledged.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Past

We had our Christmas dinner on Saturday, December 22. With the new foster baby Dales brought with them, the number of people in attendance reached 30. We are blessed!

About half of the people parked their shoes by the door before going into the basement for dinner.

Gifts were exchanged after the meal. There were more gifts under the table that aren't shown in this photo.
After the feast at dinner we weren't hungry for supper but the children were ready to eat again. The 70th birthday of patriarch of the family was recognized with a birthday cake. A John Deere tractor seemed appropriate since he finished building one from scraps this year.

He was presented with a case to display his collection of  trucks and tractors.

Christmas is about love and family. The love and family of God. The loving gift of His Son so we can be adopted into His family. Take away all the trappings that have be added to make it "feel like Christmas" and where there is love and family it will still be Christmas--any time of the year.

Friday, December 13, 2013


I have never been in the Ukraine and I am not stranded there.
While I was shopping this morning hackers got into my email account and stole my address book. They sent an email to everyone in my address book saying I was stranded in the Ukraine and needed money to get home. While I was still in the grocery store Gene called and told me I had been hacked. When I got home I found four messages on my answering machine from people who had gotten the email. I thought I would quickly send out an email and tell everyone it is a scam but my address book was empty. All my mailing and email addresses and phone numbers are gone.
I called Comcast and we reset things but the hackers had set my email to forward all the messages that came in to their fake email account and I wasn't getting anything. Amy helped me reset it so that stops and I could send and receive again.
Now I have to reassemble my address book and that will take awhile. The big question is, how did they do it? Can they do it again? What I've done so far should help but it might be safer to disable my email and open a new account. I hate to do that but it might be safer that way.
I haven't gotten very far today because the phone has been ringing off the hook. People from here to California and all points in between have been calling about this problem. At least I'm finding out how many friends I have!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Strength of That Meat

After Elijah won a great victory for the Lord over the prophets of Baal, he turned tail and ran when Queen Jezebel threatened to kill him. He stopped to rest at Beersheba where an angel appeared and fed him twice with fresh-baked bread and water.
1 Kings 19:8 says, "And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God."
I always thought that meant those two loaves of bread sustained him for forty days and he didn't eat again until he got to Mt. Horeb. This morning I had an alternate thought.
When we came home Sunday evening after a weekend at the cabin with our friends, we brought a lot of leftover food with us. Some of the leftovers were given away and I froze some of our share. But I still have so much in the frig to use up that I have not had to cook so far this week. I thought this is like Elijah. We're going in the strength of the weekend all week.
So does 1 Kings 19:8 mean Elijah didn't eat again for forty days or that the leftovers of the two loaves lasted forty days. What do you think?


Monday, December 9, 2013

Party Time!

We had a big birthday party for Leroy when he turned 60. It's amazing how short ten years is and how soon the big 7-0 came up! We didn't think it was necessary to have another big party. When Daryl and Velma suggested inviting a few friends to a cabin for the weekend as a birthday celebration, Leroy liked the idea. I told him since it's his party he should make up the guest list. His first choice was to have our bridal party. I believe a little water went over the dam in the 46 years between these pictures! The best man passed  away two years ago so one of our number is missing.
There are seven bedrooms in this cabin so we invited a few more people to fill them. Here is the whole group.
Daryl and Velma took the pictures of the old timers but they are the ones who did all the work to make this weekend happen. Velma offered to do all the cooking. We just went to the table and ate whenever she said the meal was ready. And she wouldn't even let me help wash dishes afterward. We were starting to feel like we're in an old folks home!
That's Velma at the end of the table with the blue sweater and Daryl standing at the other end serving. We officially observed the birthday with a cake for Sunday dinner. It was a good weekend full of memories and laughter. Everyone enjoyed it as far as I could tell.
The weekend ended rather abruptly when we realized the roads are probably getting slippery from the snow that was falling. We slid down the mountain and came home with a lot of happy memories to savor in the days to come. You just simply can't be with this jolly bunch and NOT have fun!
A huge thank you to Daryl and Velma for all the work they did to make it happen. A small party with a few friends was more fun than a big party with lots of friends!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Tried and Couldn't

I am not a crafty person. Some people can take a few odds and ends and make something really neat and artistic out of it. Or they might see a knick-knack at a yard sale and use it to make an attractive display. I can never see the potential in stuff like that and wouldn't know what to do with it if I did have it. When I see how they did it I think I could do that, but I just don't have the ideas myself. I can never envision the finished product and don't know until it's done if it looks right or not. And mostly my stuff is in the NOT category; looks like I tried and couldn't quite pull it off.
One of the latest fads is Pintrest where all kinds of neat ideas can be found. I never joined it because I know I wouldn't make the stuff anyway. But once in awhile someone posts something that looks simple enough for the likes of me to try it.
Last week I saw a candy cane vase and decided I could do that one. All I needed was an empty jar and enough candy canes to surround it. Any simpleton could do that, I thought. Put a rubber band around a jar, stick candy canes inside the rubber band until the jar is surrounded, tie a ribbon over the rubber band, and stick flowers in the jar. Easy, cute, and edible.
So I bought two boxes of candy canes (only cost $2), came home, and set to work. Easy, huh? The candy canes leaned to the side and wouldn't stand up straight. After several attempts I put two rubber bands around the jar. That helped. But my candy canes were not all the exact same length like the ones in the picture. They did not form a perfect even circle around the jar. And I had two rubber bands to cover with ribbon instead of one. The curve of the candy canes was in the way to tie the top ribbon. Aaargh!! So I taped a plain strip of ribbon over each rubber band and stuck a pre-tied bow between them. The project improved somewhat when I stuck some silk poinsettias in the vase, but it was just not as elegant as the one in the picture that was filled with red roses.
I'm too tight to throw out two dozen candy canes so I'll make the best of my poor attempt to be crafty and let the thing set until Christmas. Then the grandchildren can have the candy canes and I'll go back to playing with words instead of trying to be crafty. I tried and couldn't.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas Cookie Bake

Baking Christmas cookies is a tradition began before I existed and has been part of my Christmas as long as I can remember. It has been done in various places with different groups of people, but one way or another the tradition goes on.
The last few years my daughters-in-love and some of the grandchildren have gathered to do the baking. My daughter lives in Ohio and is seldom able to join us but participates by proxy. She bakes hers at home, brings them when she comes at Christmas, and collects her share from our bake.
The cookie bake was at my house this year. Five of us each baked two kinds of cookies. One of the ladies was missed on this photo. You can see the taste-testers were doing their job!
Grayson got some lessons in cookie decorating.
Christmas cookies just would not be complete without the decorated cut-out Sugar Cookies.
I really don't need ten dozen cookies but don't want to miss out. One year I baked all by myself and it felt like work. This was fun.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Texas Trip

In the mid-1960s, the factory where I worked constructed a large addition to the building. After everything was in place they gave us tours. In the new lunch room there was a machine that would heat food in one minute. I tried it just to see how it worked. Amazing! I never dreamed I'd have one of those machines in my own kitchen and use it every day.
Another fascinating machine I saw on the tour was an IBM machine in the office. With this machine they could send electronic messages back and forth between the Pennsylvania and Arizona plants. Amazing! Again, I never dreamed I'd have such a machine in my own home and use it every day.
The Internet has become so much a part of everyday life I feel cut off when it is down. The Internet is my encyclopedia, dictionary, phone book, recipe book, and more. The genealogy research I do would  be very restricted without the Internet. More things are online today then even five years ago. It is now possible to find public records such as wills, deeds, death certificates, etc. from other states without physically going there.
Yesterday I traveled to Texas via the Internet. According to oral family history, my paternal grandfather bought a grapefruit orchard in Texas just before the stock market crash. It was a bad move but he was not able to foresee the Great Depression and Dust Bowl years that were just around the corner. He was bankrupted and lost everything, including the land in Texas.
I always wondered exactly when my grandfather bought that land and where it was located but Texas is huge and I had no idea where to start looking. I had tried earlier but came up blank. I often dreamed of going down there to search by going from county to county to look at deeds. This week I decided to try another Internet search.
Oral history said the orchard was in the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas. I found a website that had a free deed index for some of the counties in Texas. I tried Cameron County first because that is the most southern county. I searched for Burkholder and viola! There it was! E N Burkholder bought land in Cameron County on November 14, 1928. The date fit the oral story but I needed to see the deed to be sure.
Seconds after my credit card was charged $2, I had a copy of the deed in my computer. Bingo! The deed said E N Burkholder was from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He bought 9.99 acres in Cameron County near Harlingen. It's way down near the tip of Texas, a few miles above Brownsville.
The questions of when and where are finally answered, and without leaving home. But I'm still dreaming of going down there to see the land. Now that I know the general area, it would not require as much time. We could fly down, go directly to Harlingen, and see it in one day. I'm hoping to pin down the exact location of those ten acres first so I can see the exact spot. Will it happen? I don't know. But armchair travel and dreams are free.
 P.S. Where did I get this picture if I haven't been there? Three guesses and the first two don't count!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Hiding In The Corners

I've been keeping Grayson one day per week since he was about three months old. This is the first grandchild who lives close enough for me to babysit regularly and I'm taking advantage of the opportunity.
He will be two in January and by now he knows where he's going when the car turns in at our road. He loves to be here and I love having him. He doesn't talk a lot yet but can get his message across very well with sign and body language. Lately when his mother comes to take him home he indicates he wants to stay. This week he ran into the kitchen and tried to hide in the corner behind the sofa. Because he couldn't see us from his hiding place he thought we couldn't see him. But we had seen him going and knew where he was.
I thought about how adults do the same thing but in other ways. Because we can't see God, we forget that He sees everything we do, and even knows every thought we have. The dirty little secrets we have and think no one knows are known by Him.
I was reminded of a something I quoted when I was teaching Sunday school last Sunday. "You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool God any of time."
I thought about that again this morning as I finished housecleaning my kitchen. It was a bit-by-bit process but I finally got it done. I used to do a thorough cleaning twice a year but as the size of the family in residence decreased, once a year was enough. Now that we are back to the original two we started with the amount of dirt that accumulates in the empty nest has decreased some more.
Some years ago an empty nester whom I considered a good housekeeper said she does not houseclean anymore. She said, "When something is dirty, I clean it." I could not imagine how my house would look if I didn't houseclean. But I'm starting to understand. I took a shortcut in the kitchen this year. Last year I took everything out of the cupboards and wiped the shelves but on some of them the rag didn't pick up any dirt. This year I decided it just isn't necessary to do that and only cleaned the ones that were dirty. There may be some dirt hiding in the corners but when it builds up enough that I can see it I'll take care of it. My kitchen looks good even if I did cut a few corners. God knows my dirty little secret and now so do you!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

In Memory

It's hard to believe we ate Steve's last birthday cake twenty years ago today.

His memory is a treasure
With which we'll never part;
God has him in His keeping,
We have him in our hearts.


Steven P. Stauffer, 18, of 15 Harry Stoudt drive, Bernville, was pronounced dead at the scene of a one-car accident Sunday [January 2, 1994] on Route 501, south of Schaefferstown, Lebanon County.
Born in Lebanon, he was a son of Leroy and Romaine (Burkholder) Stauffer, at home.
Stauffer was employed by Rigidply Rafters, Richland.
He was a member of Fairhaven Mennonite Church, Myerstown.
Also surviving are a sister, Cheryl, wife of Richard Miller, Quaker City, Ohio; and four brothers, Daryl L., L. Eugene and Gerald D., all at home, and Dale R., East Earl, Lancaster County.
There are also his grandparents, Phares and Sarah Stauffer, Richland.
Services will be Thursday at 10 a.m. in Fairhaven Mennonite Church. Burial will be in Myerstown Mennonite Cemetery. The Clauser Funeral Home, Schaefferstown, is in charge of arrangements.
Reading Eagle, January 4, 1994

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Blow By Blow

Some weeks life plods along in the same pattern day after day and not much seems to be happening. Some weeks everything seems to go wrong and then we wish for our comfortable old rut. This week fell somewhere in the middle; it was neither boring nor chaotic. But it WAS interesting.
My brother arrived from Canada at 1 a.m. Sunday but since we had turned the clocks back to Standard Time it was midnight.We had a houseful of company all day Sunday with 15 here for lunch, 25 for supper, and a few others that came and went between meals. My brother was here until Thursday morning. We didn't see much of him as his days were filled with meetings, but we did get to visit a bit each morning over breakfast.
We also had revivals this week so that meant going to church each evening. Our evangelist was from eastern Ontario and his wife had come with him. I invited them for supper Friday and that rounded out the week with guests at our table every day. Our revivals were supposed to run through Nov. 10 but one of our members died this week. The revivals were cut short and ended on Friday because of the funeral this weekend.
I coughed and blew my way through all these activities. My cold is nearly two weeks old and I have blown my way through two boxes of Kleenex. I'm starting on the third one today. Living blow by blow is getting rather old. I'm ready for this cold to dry up and blow away.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Reformation Day

Yesterday it was 593 years that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany, on October 31, 1517, the eve of All Saints' Day. That event is considered the beginning of the Reformation.

His actions that day led Martin Luther to break away from the Catholic church and found the Lutheran Church. His contemporary, Ulrich Zwingli, followed his lead shortly after and founded the Reformed Church. Luther retained more of the Catholic beliefs than Zwingli. Ironically, the one thing that separated them was their divergent teachings on the chief Sacrament of Christian unity: the Eucharist. Martin Luther believed in Transubstantiation, or that the  bread and wine was turned into blood and body of Christ. Ulrich Zwingli thought that it was a symbolic transformation. Zwingli carried the reformation further than Luther and also removed the images, candles, gold trimmings, and other decorative things from the church.
Our Anabaptist founder, Felix Manz, was a student of Ulrich Zwingli. Felix and his friends, Conrad Grebel and George Blaurock, felt that Zwingli was not carrying the reformation far enough. They believed infant baptism was not Scriptural and that the church and state should be separate. Seeing debate with Zwingli was fruitless, they practiced believer's baptism in January 1525 which is considered the founding of the Anabaptist church.
In 1926, General Synod of the Reformed Church voted to "designate the Sunday nearest October 31 as Reformation Day." This year, Reformation Sunday was observed on October 27. Not much is made of Reformation Sunday in our Anabaptist churches as we do not recognize Martin Luther as our founder. But we are the beneficiaries of his courage in challenging the false doctrines of the Catholic church. People listened to him, started thinking and reading the Scriptures for themselves instead of just swallowing whatever the priest told them.
Felix Manz and Conrad Grebel were highly educated, able to read the Scriptures in the Hebrew and Greek languages in which they were originally written. The key to the Reformation was not the work of any man. It was the work of the Holy Spirit opening the eyes of men who read the Scriptures.
Jesus said, "I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." The Catholic church had strayed far from the truth and invented doctrines that were not found in the Scriptures. But God was not going to let His church fall into ruin. He raised up men who read the Scriptures and saw the Truth.
As with Christmas and Easter, the devil has a counterfeit for October 31 and has a heyday on Reformation Day. How much better it would be to celebrate something positive on October 31 and make it a day of thanks to God for building His church!
German Bible and Martyrs' Mirror book which were used by Christian Burkholder (1746-1809).

Friday, October 18, 2013

Sometimes I Wonder

I went to the post office this morning and with a huge sigh of relief mailed off one of the writing projects I slaved over all week. I can't explain why it seems I'm not satisfied unless I have just a little more than is sensible on my to-do list. I had a stack of five books I was supposed to review and report on and was already working on three other writing projects. What possessed me to start the fourth one?
I guess the main reason was that the person who wanted it done has been waiting since May. I hated to make him wait any longer and  it was a comparatively small project. So I dived in and started it on Monday. And once I have started something, I feel driven to complete it. I'm not one to let a lot of things lie around unfinished. This one took me three days of solid typing to complete, which is relatively fast. Fifty-six handwritten pages were reduced to thirty typewritten pages. I'm relieved to have it off my conscience and my desk.
That leaves me with "only" three more projects to complete. I am hoping to wrap up another one this month, which will bring my work load down to a more manageable level. One of those is a sort of on again-off again research project but the other is rather involved and I'm sure will keep me occupied all winter. I'll be happy if I can finish by spring.
I always have a mental list of what I want to do over winter and this year is no exception. I reserve doing photo albums for winter so that will be on the list for the beginning of the year. I want to crochet an afghan and maybe put a quilt in the frame. Of course there is always the regular house and volunteer work I do. And usually other things I hadn't even thought of when I made my to-do list pop up and get worked in somewhere.
I'm glad I can be busy and productive, but sometimes I wonder about my own judgment.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Gruber Wagon Works

We've been having summer weather so far this month. It felt more like July than October this week. We took Saturday afternoon off to attend the Berks County Heritage Festival. We didn't see a whole lot there because we spent most of the time touring the Gruber Wagon Works which is on the grounds. I've wanted to do that for years and today seemed like the perfect opportunity.

The Gruber Wagon Works was built in 1882 by Franklin H. Gruber who had begun making farm-use wagons in the 1870s. As demand increased, he built the Wagon Works. It remained a family-owned business until it closed in 1971. It was unusual for its time because all of its processes, from start to finish, were under one roof.
Originally, the Wagon Works was on the Licking Creek, about 1000 feet from where it flows into the Tulpehocken Creek. The Licking Creek was used to supply power for the machines in the early days of the Wagon Works. Part of the creek was diverted to run through the basement, turning a small water wheel before flowing back into the creek.
With increases in business, the Wagon Works modernized. A steam engine was installed in 1896, replaced in 1906 by a gasoline-powered engine, which was used through the 1950's. The water diverted from the creek was still used, only now to cool off the engine.
Because the Wagon Works was along a dirt road, painting was done on the second floor where there was not as much dust. An elevator, designed by one of the Gruber sons, was built in the building in 1905. With the installment of the elevator, two men could lift the wagons into the upper levels of the shop in a few minutes, a process which had previously taken five to six men half an hour.
In 1912, E. I. Shower put in electric lighting. It was the first electric lighting in the rural Berks area, and Shower encouraged people to go to the Wagon Works to see how it worked. This was also beneficial for the Grubers, as they could show off their wares while the people were there.
At its peak period, between 1910 and 1920, up to 20 men worked there at a time. They worked for 11 hours a day, six days a week, and were paid 15 to 20 cents an hour. At this time, approximately 100 wagons were being produced each year. Here is the price list from 1917 on the blackboard in the paint shop.

One of the keys to the success of the Wagon Works was its use of patterns. Having a pattern for each part meant that less work had to be done in sizing the pieces and the wagon could be built faster and more efficiently. With more wagons being built, more orders could be taken, and more money flowed into the business. During slow times, they would build extra parts to have some ready for the future.
As a family business, the Grubers were very concerned about the safety of their workers. They put in special safeguards, such as barriers on saws and other machinery to keep workers from cutting their hands while using them. During its entire operation, there were no major accidents.
No glue was used in the wagons; instead, the parts were fitted tight enough that they stayed together by themselves. This cold press, used to permanently weld the metal rims to the wooden wheels, is one of only a few to survive in the country. It was featured on the Smithsonian calendar.

The paint they used was linseed oil-based and had to be mixed every morning. The body of the wagon was always painted green, while the chassis was always painted red. Intricate scrollwork was painted by hand on the sides of the wagon by hand. Leroy remembers helping a neighbor load hay on one of these which had been modified to be pulled by a tractor.

With the advent of the tractor and automobile, demand for horse-drawn wagons decreased. To keep in business, the Grubers began making wooden truck bodies and socket wrenches for cars. One auto dealer had a deal where he would give a complete set of wrenches, made at the Wagon Works, to everyone who bought a Model-T. A set of Gruber tools would last a lifetime.
After 1956, until it finally closed in 1971, the Wagon Works was a wagon repair shop. The ultimate dominance of the automobile and modern farm equipment meant that the services of the Wagon Works were no longer needed. The last man to operate the Wagon Works was Franklin Gruber's grandson. When he retired in 1971, he simply closed the doors and left everything in place.

When the Army Corps of Engineers, in charge of the Blue Marsh Project, went into the Wagon Works a few years later, they realized they had found a national treasure. Over 19,000 tools, supplies and inventory was all left in place, as if the workers had simply gone home and would be back the next day. The machines and gas engine that runs them are all operational. Someone could go in there and build wagons the same way the Grubers made them.
The building was moved to the Heritage Center in early December 1976. It was cut into four major sections and moved about five miles down the road to the Berks County Heritage Center. Restoration on the building began immediately and the Wagon Works got a second life. The building and everything inside it, including the placement of tools and materials, is as it was when the business was operating. In 1977, the Wagon works was designated as a National Historical Landmark.



Thursday, October 3, 2013

Like A Hammock

This morning I was reading about Peter walking on the water to meet Jesus. I was reminded of this unpublished poem I wrote some years ago. Maybe it will encourage someone.
Like A Hammock

Eager, and full of ambition,
Peter tried hard to show
How much he could do for Jesus,
There was nowhere he would not go;

So when Jesus came walking on water
Toward the boat of disciples one night,
Peter impulsively walked out to meet Him,
Quite sure he’d get there all right.

When he realized what he was doing,
And looked down at the waters below,
He felt himself sinking and knew
He’d drown in a minute or so.

Peter desperately shouted to Jesus
To save him from certain death,
Jesus lovingly reached down and caught him;
Took him back to the boat and the rest.

How many of us are like Peter?
We barge confidently out on our own
Without depending on Jesus,
Thinking we can make it alone.

Then in trouble, we cry out and ask Him
To save us as we’re going down;
He’s a big safety net to catch us
And save us before we drown.
How vastly different was Job;
His faith was fixed on the Lord,
Though destitute and deserted,
He firmly believed in God’s Word.

For his faith in God was in place,
And supporting him long before
All the troubles came to test him;
And all he had left was the Lord.
For Job knew God is in charge,
And He alone knows what is best;
Even though Job did not understand it,
He could trust and peacefully rest.

So his faith was to him like a hammock;
Underneath him, supporting and strong;
It kept him from fretting and worry
When everything seemed to go wrong.
What kind of faith do you have?
Is God to you nothing more
Than a big safety net to catch you
When you’re needing  to be restored?

How much better is faith like a hammock,
Underneath you, supporting and strong!
You can rest, secure in the knowledge,
God never does anything wrong.
(Romaine Stauffer)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tractor Show

Five years ago Leroy started collecting parts to build a miniature unstyled John Deere B tractor. The pieces were basket cases he salvaged here and there. Finally this summer he got it all together and running. It needs a little work to get it running better but is good enough that he was able to take it to a couple shows this month.
Someone who saw it at Myerstown East End days invited him to bring it to their tractor show at Oley Mennonite Church on September 28. That was the third Saturday in a row he took it to a show and I think the last one for awhile. It was just a small show but a beautiful day to be out. We met some new friends and old acquaintances there.
They told Leroy to park his little tractor at the end of the toy row. Before long, the owner of the full size John Deere B moved his tractor and parked beside him. Maybe he thought the little guy needed a big brother to watch over him. When people look at his little tractor they don't really know what they're seeing until he starts telling them how he built it from scrap parts. Then they see it in a different light.
One little guy climbed up and tried it out.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Calm Change

Sometimes the fall equinox is accompanied by violent and/or very abrupt changes in the weather. The year of 1983 was one of those times. Our youngest child was overdue and the summer heat continued with a vengeance. When we finally left for the hospital in the early morning hours on September 20, it had only gone down to 80 degrees overnight. Fall came with a terrific crash during the days I was in the hospital. (In those days they let you rest a couple days and didn't push you out six hours later.) The nurses kept saying how cool it was but I found it hard to believe until the moment I stepped out of the hospital. There was a definite chill in the air and summer had come to an abrupt end.
This year that child had his 30th birthday. His wife hosted a party for him at their home. Since their house is too small for a party crowd, she planned to have it on the lawn. Uh-oh! I thought. That's chancy. It's the equinox after all.
But this year the equinox came in rather calmly for a change. There were no hurricanes or violent storms. A line of thunderstorms passed through Saturday night. They dropped about a half inch of rain and ushered in cooler temperatures but by Sunday it had cleared and the lawn party went on as planned. It did get a bit chilly as the evening wore on, and especially after the sun went down. But by then the party was nearly over. I got a bunch of pictures at the party and after I was home I realized I don't have one of the birthday boy. What kind of a mom does something like that!



Saturday, September 14, 2013

Cross That Bridge

The bridge we crossed to get to the main road was closed for several years, which meant we had to go the long way around. Back at the end of April we saw work had begun to repair the bridge. I thought in about a month it would be open again. Well, that was a vain hope. Instead of being repaired the bridge was completely torn away and replaced with a totally new bridge. There were intervals when nothing was happening; at least nothing we could see. What I thought might take a month took 4.5 months. It finally opened on Wednesday and I drove across it for the first time today. After all those years of using the detour, I'm afraid I'll forget it's open again and automatically turn the other way.
Brand spankin' new bridge.
Another positive thing happened this week when I had an injection in my spine. The difficulty I've had walking all summer disappeared in less than 24 hours. I can walk again without a cane and sleep in bed all night without pain. If an injection was all it took, why did it take four months to figure that out? If it isn't a permanent fix and doesn't last, we'll cross that bridge when we get there. At the moment, I'm very thankful for the relief.

Monday, September 9, 2013

It's A Deere

It's been a couple years in the making and Leroy says there is still little things he needs to do to this tractor he built. But it's looking more like a John Deere since Gerald helped him put the decals on the side. Now it's not just pretending to be a John Deere B, it's proudly wearing the John Deere name on the sides of its hood.
I wonder if it will ever be 100% finished. But if it was, what would he do with it? The thing is pretty much a big toy, fun to build, fun to tinker with. At any rate, even though it's not as perfectly done as some models other guys have built, I think he did a good job of building a tractor from scraps. The old Novo engine even makes it sound like a John Deere.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Labor Day Parties

I am taking it easy today after a whirlwind weekend of one party after another. Why is life like that? Sometimes nothing is going on and the next time the schedule is packed full. And then when I thought it was already full, a funeral was added to the list Sunday afternoon. I survived, but now it is time to catch my breath.
Here is a bird's eye view of our Labor Day weekend.
Saturday---Stauffer family chicken barbq in honor of Leroy's mother's 90th birthday, attended by 80 of her descendants.
Mom surrounded by all ten of her children . . .
with their spouses . . .
and 19 of her 26 grandchildren (two left before the picture was taken).
It would have been too difficult to collect the 40 great-grandchildren in attendance and make them hold still long enough to get a good picture.
Sunday---soft pretzel party for the August birthdays in our family
Monday--Burkholder apple butter boil

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Call For Peace

Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
Non-Profit Organization
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. --Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today, MCC sent this message to the U.S. government. Please join our prayerful call for peace in Syria.

We urgently call on all governments and parties to the conflict to end the violence in Syria. We condemn in the strongest terms all form...s of violence and war, including missile strikes, use of chemical weapons, targeted acts of violence against civilians, conventional warfare and suicide bombings.

Further militarization of the conflict will only increase the suffering of the Syrian people and the shattering of Syrian society.

We call on all nations to immediately end shipments of military equipment and arms to the Syrian government and to rebel groups, and to increase contributions of food and other humanitarian assistance to civilians in all areas of Syria and to Syrian refugees who have fled to neighboring countries, and their host communities.

We call on the international community, and Syrians from all sides, to negotiate with urgency and seriousness an inclusive political solution to the crisis, guaranteeing the rights of all Syrians.

In the name of Christ, we pray and work for peace in Syria.

Friday, August 23, 2013


I heard in the news this week that Germans now have three choices on their child's birth certificates. The child can be identified as either male, female or other. OTHER?? What is other? Puppy, alien, or blueberry pie? How are children supposed to know who they are if the parents aren't even sure what they are?
God created human beings male and female, and every person who ever lived since creation has been one or the other. There has never been a third gender nor will there ever be. I understand the reasoning behind this is to make allowance for transgender people. But how is a parent to know if the child will make such a choice as an adult? And it does not change the fact that he or she was born either male or female.
This is just another step down the road in the confusion of the sexes. It began with men and women disregarding their God-ordained roles. Men did not take their place as leaders and women quickly stepped up to the plate and took over. They left the home and went into the workplace, cut their hair, and wore pants. In the name of equal rights, women assumed positions they were never meant to fill.
The equal rights campaign was extended to the gay community which fought a long hard battle to be recognized as legitimate. Now it looks like transgender people are beating the same drum. Where will this end? God may have to put a stop to it by cleaning house the way He did at Sodom and Gomorrah.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Wenger Meeting House

Last evening we went to the dedication of the restored Wenger Meeting House at Jonestown.

This church was built in 1871 for a United Zion congregation on the northwest corner of Hans Wenger's 170-acre farm where a cemetery already existed. Hans and Hannah Wenger emigrated from Germany in 1748 and are believed to be buried in this cemetery. They are a not Leroy's Wenger ancestors but we went anyway because I've often heard of this church but was never there.
The building has been nicely restored inside and out. It was remodeled somewhere along the way and has been returned to the way it appeared in the 1920-30s. Notice the decorative ceiling tiles. Two of them needed to be replaced and the committee was stumped as to where to find matching tiles. While cleaning out the attic they found exactly two matching tiles. So the ceiling is all original.
The United Zion church, founded in 1855, has roots in the Mennonite church. In 1778 a group of Mennonites formed the River Brethren church. They were never part of the Church of the Brethren but got their name from their location near the Susquehanna River. The conservative element of this denomination is still known as River Brethren but the majority of them took the name of Brethren in Christ. In 1855 the Brethren in Christ disagreed on the construction of meeting houses. They had always met in homes and the majority wanted to preserve that tradition. A group who wanted to build a meeting house separated from the Brethren in Christ, built a meeting house, and became known as United Zion's Children (later shortened to United Zion).  About ten years after the split, the Brethren in Christ changed their minds and started building meeting houses too.
The United Zion church has always been smaller than the Brethren in Christ although they are very similar in belief and practice. The United Zion have about a thousand members today to the 24,000 the Brethren in Christ.
The Wenger Meetinghouse remained in use as a United Zion place of worship until the mid-1950s, by which time the congregation had expanded and then dispersed to other area congregations. The meetinghouse saw sporadic use after the mid-1950s. The congregation from nearby Moonshine United Zion Church used the structure in the early 1960s while its own house of worship was being rebuilt following a fire. Thereafter, Wenger Meetinghouse’s main use was for United Zion summer services. The building was eventually sold again in 1977 — this time to the cemetery association. Other than a brief period of rental to an independent congregation during the 1980s, the building fell into disuse until 2004, when the Wenger family began using the meetinghouse for worship and fellowship during their annual reunions, drawing together the descendants of Hans Wenger from across the country.
Unfortunately, by that time the building had begun to show its age and a decision had to be made whether to “fix it up or tear it down,” according to Warren Wenger, a descendant of Hans who has been active in the movement to restore and preserve the old meetinghouse. Thanks to a new slate roof, repointed brickwork, repaired plaster and restored windows and shutters, the Wenger meetinghouse was rededicated last evening at the opening of the 91st annual Wenger reunion.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Vacuum In Our Identity

I've been studying the Revolutionary War, how it affected the lives of the Mennonite community, and my ancestors in particular. It is a story that is not very well known by most of us. In his book The Earth Is the Lord's, John Ruth says:
"An astonishing series of incidents, miscellaneously recorded in crumbling documents surviving from the years following 1774, help us realize that . . . [by] 1976, modern American Mennonite had largely forgotten one of the most dramatic chapters in their own story. We read of enormous fines, communal jealousies and confrontations, confiscations of property, whippings, migrations, appeals, dozens of jailings, and even a neighbor's execution. By failing to remember this part of their own story, even conservative Mennonites allowed a vacuum in their own identity, into which could gradually creep the myth of a God-ordained United States of America, born from the matrix of Revolutionary War."

The Second Continental Congress passed the Resolution for Independence on July 2, 1776, on the second vote. The first vote in June resulted in seven colonies for and five against with New York abstaining. The five colonies that did not vote for independence still wanted to reconcile with England by peaceful means. Congress recessed for three weeks, during which time Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. Congress reconvened on July 1 and voted again on the Resolution for Independence on July 2. This time twelve colonies voted for it but New York still abstained.
The founding fathers were not committed Christians as they are often portrayed. Thomas Jefferson was a Deist (belief there is a God but He is not involved in the lives of men) and George Washington rarely attended church. The story that he knelt in the snow at Valley Forge to pray is a much of a myth as the cherry tree story.
The Revolutionary War era was a time of great turmoil on the national level and Mennonites were caught in the middle of the conflict, believing it was their duty to obey "the powers that be" but it was not clear who those powers were. They had promised to be loyal to the king. Now a rebel government had risen up and was requiring them to break that promise and change their allegiance. In addition, they were expected to fight with the Continental Army which was a direct violation of their beliefs in the Biblical doctrine of nonresistance.
Other peace churches which found themselves in the same position included the Quakers, Dunkers (Brethren), Schwenkfelders, Moravians, Seventh Day Baptists (Ephrata Cloister), and other smaller groups of sectarians. They paid a price to remain true to their beliefs. And three hundred years later it is largely a forgotten story and a vacuum in our identity.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Grandma's Brag Book

Grandma Brag Books are usually pictures of babies and little grandchildren. I'm extending mine to brag about a little grandson who has grown up into an outstanding young man.
Marcus joined our family in September 1996, about a week after his second birthday. His parents flew to Haiti to pick him up and returned within 24 hours. Foreign adoptions often are long, drawn-out affairs. It was a miracle how everything fell into place so swiftly and they were free to leave.
Marcus was baptized at the Middle Creek Church of the Brethren in September 2007. He was homeschooled and graduated this spring. He is interested in a career in the medical field but pondering which path to take in that direction. I'm sure the Lord will direct his steps and show him the way.
We have been blessed to have Marcus in our family the past sixteen years. He has a lot of potential and we will be cheering from the sidelines as he finds his way through life.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

1775 Broadside

The first battles of the Revolutionary War were fought at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, in April 1775. In June, the Second Continental Congress voted to form a Continental Army. Lancaster County, Pa., responded by sending a fair share of men to fight. But at the same time, Lancaster County officials realized they had a large number of Mennonite, Amish, Quaker, and Moravian residents whose beliefs would not allow them to participate in war.
On July 11, 1775, this broadside was published in Lancaster, Pa., urging those in such denominations to contribute financially in lieu of weapons and soldiers. (Broadsides were printed posters hung in public places or read aloud to get the word out in the days before mass media.) The broadside basically goads these conscientious objectors to give money, strongly implying that their beliefs might be seen as a cover for stinginess rather than a dearly-held principle.
"The Committee do therefore join in earnestly recommending it to such Denominations of People, in this County, whose religious Scruples forbid them to associate or bear Arms, that they contribute towards the necessary and unavoidable Expences of the Public, in such Proportion as may leave no Room, with any, to suspect that they would ungenerously avail themselves of the Indulgence granted them; or, under a Pretence of Conscience and religious Scruples, keep their Money in their Pockets, and thereby throw those Burthens upon a Part of the Community, which, in a Cause that affects all, should be borne by all." 

At least 200 copies of this broadside were printed, some in English, some in German. The Library of Congress has a fragment of the German version. This is the only surviving intact copy and the only known English copy.
This broadside has been on display at the Lititz Moravian Church museum (in Lititz, Pa.) since at least the 1970s. The paper has probably been kept at the church ever since the minister received it from the committee in 1775. He would have read the German translation aloud to his congregation and passed it around. Since the German-speaking congregants had little use for the English version, the minister probably just filed it away and forgot about it.
In 2011, the  real importance of this document was discovered. No other copy of this 1775 broadside exists in any other collection in the world. It is unique, the only copy to have survived. Thanks to the extensive archives of the Moravians who never threw anything away!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Nusiance, Not Handicap

Summer is rushing by much too fast. The daylight hours are noticeably shorter than they were a month ago. I saw some goldenrod in bloom and the garden is fast going from full to empty. I cleaned off two rows of corn today which leaves only two more rows of corn, tomatoes, and onions in residence. I have not done much canning and freezing this year because I have so much left over from other years. We need to use up the old stuff and maybe next year we can start fresh again.
This summer has been not been as busy as most of the previous ones, and not only because I don't need to put up much food for the winter. I have not been idle, but since my leg went lame on me in May I have been finding things I can do while sitting. That included quilting (in the summer!) of all things. But I enjoyed it and was glad for the work. I had to give up going on the book route and taking my daily two-mile walks. I haven't been doing much cemetery prowling either.
It bugs me to have this lovely weather and not be able to go out and get some exercise. But on the other hand, I still have a lot to be thankful for. A lame leg is a nuisance but it is not a real handicap. Now if my eyes and fingers didn't work anymore, THAT would be a real handicap. I won't be bored as long as my eyes and fingers work. And my mind! I certainly wouldn't want to lose that. If I did, I'd
create big problems for the people who have to live with me.
I'm thankful there has been some improvement in my leg the last two weeks. I've been able to set the cane aside most of the time and hope the improvement continues. The MRI showed the problem is a pinched nerve. I don't have cancer or need a hip replacement. Even if the whole summer passes while I mess around with this contrary leg, it could be a whole lot worse.
"We may not be able to direct the wind but we can adjust our sails.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Ed Swope hosts a tractor show and threshing demonstration in our neighborhood. It's small in comparison to some of those things but a nice-sized crowd shows up. It was held this past Saturday and Leroy went for the morning. Gene and Grayson came too. From the looks on their faces, both Grayson and Grandpa were enjoying themselves immensely.
It's never too soon to start training the next generation of John Deere fans!
Here are some more pictures from the day.
Russ Weidman and one of his tractors. Russ worked at Klopps JD in Bernville and was one of Grandpa's JD buddies.
One of the more recent models made by Ed Swope.