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Monday, October 26, 2015

Glory of Autumn

When we were younger and had a passel of children at home, we had an annual tradition of going on a hike when the leaves were colored in the fall. This was usually around our daughter's October 19 birthday. We hiked parts of the Appalachian Trail or other places in Penn's Woods.
We ran out of children and ambition and dropped the tradition many years ago. But on Sunday the leaves were at their peak and the colors were more brilliant than some years. I got the urge once again to go out and enjoy the glory of autumn. I thought we could just take a drive rather than hike but that turned out not to be satisfactory. To really see and fully appreciate fall leaves, you have to get up close to them. So we parked the car in a parking lot on the Blue Mountain and walked some trails.
The bright sunshine brought out the full colors of the leaves and the smell of the fallen ones can only be appreciated while walking in the woods. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience but there was something lacking with just the two of us. There was no one to run ahead or lag behind poking sticks in hollow logs, picking up the perfect walking stick, collecting handfuls of leaves or other woodland treasures, saying, "I have to go to the bathroom," or "Mom, he hit me with his stick." When hiking was a family activity I never thought I'd miss that kind of thing, but I did. We walked sedately along snapping pictures and stayed out as long as the light lasted. It was nice but I missed the company of the children who have disappeared into adults.


We wound up at Bloody Springs where the Spatz family were killed by Indians during the French and Indian War. They lived near the spring, which was renamed Bloody Spring after the attack. This is not far from where the Hostettler family lived and whose story of the Indian attack they suffered in 1757 is well-known. Not many details seem to be available on the Spatz family and their story. Whether it is fact or fancy I cannot confirm but it certainly was a distinct possibility. The Blue Mountain was the dividing line between the frontier and Indian territory. The Hostettlers lived at the foot of the mountain but this spot is part way up the mountain. Being too close to Indian territory made them easy targets.
This monument has been erected to mark the spot. The spring has been reduced to a trickle but is still there.

Penn's Woods has changed so much it's hard to imagine what it was like to live here 250 years ago. Time moves relentlessly on. Children grow up, trees disappear, leaves fall---the cycle repeats year after year. The changes come in such small increments they are hardly noticeable. But one day you look back, see how much things have changed, and wonder how it happened so fast.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Esther Starts From Home

My newest book, Esther Starts From Home, arrived yesterday and will begin to appear in bookstores next week. It was published by Christian Light and will also be available for online orders at The retail price is $8.95.

The book is a collection of 29 short stories for children up to age 10. All of the stories are about Esther and her sister Grace. The title is taken from one of the stories in which Esther thinks about how the only way she knows to get somewhere is by starting from her house. She wonders how people know which roads to take if they start from somewhere else. The story ends with:
 Suddenly something dawned on Esther that she had never thought of before. “We live in the middle of the world and everybody else lives around us.” 
Everyone but Esther laughed.
“What’s so funny?” Esther cried. “We do, don’t we?”
“Yes, dear,” Mom said. “Our home is in the middle of your world. That’s the way it should be.”
“You can start from home and go anywhere in the world—and all the way to Heaven too,” Daddy said.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Thomas Jenkins

We always go to Ohio about this time of year to help our daughter celebrate her birthday. We went out on Friday morning and came home Sunday evening. Leroy took the whole day off Friday so we could go first thing in the morning and have enough time for me to do some research in the Guernsey County courthouse before it closed at 4pm. I packed a lunch which I ate on the way, and then he ate his after we arrived at 12:30.
The need for this research is a long story. Suffice it to say I got in an argument this summer with someone who was claiming the Thomas Jenkins reported to have been buried in the Logan cemetery (on the hill above our daughter's house) was a Thomas Jenkins who lived in Champaign County. I was sure the Thomas in Guernsey County was not the same person as the Champaign County Thomas and went in search of documents to prove that. I achieved my objective but also found more than that.
This all began when I found a badly damaged but still legible gravestone in the cemetery for a Sara Jenkins who was the wife of Thomas Jenkins. The cemetery record says Thomas was buried there in 1832, so it seemed they must be husband and wife since they are the only two Jenkins listed there. A more careful reading of the stone this weekend shows that it says Sara was "the wife of Thomas Jenkins who departed this life February 29, 1832." Whoever read that stone and wrote up the cemetery record took that to mean Thomas died in 1832 but it was actually Sara's death date.
The Guernsey County records show Thomas Jenkins Sr. died in 1838 and Thomas Jenkins Jr. died in 1858. There is nothing to support a Thomas dying in 1832. In addition, the wife of Thomas Sr. was Margaret, not Sara.
Anyone who is interested in the documents on the family of Thomas and Margaret Jenkins can read my findings here
That is all the further I plan to go with the research on this family. I am satisfied that I have proved the Thomas Jenkins family in Guernsey County was not the same as the one in Champaign County. If anyone who is in that family wants to do more research, they can build on this foundation.
We spent Saturday at the Antrim Mennonite School benefit auction, which just happened to be the same weekend. We bought a few small items and food. They had a good turnout and raised a nice amount of money for the school. The weather was more agreeable than sometimes but turned colder in the afternoon.
On Sunday morning there was a heavy, killing frost on the ground. That moved east with us as we came home. It was snowing as we crossed the mountains and on top it was enough to cover the ground with a layer of white. This morning (Monday) we had 28 degrees and a heavy coating of frost. Growing season 2015 is over. We're heading into another winter, like it or not.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

William Tyndale

William Tyndale, one of the unsung heroes not only of religious history, but also of the history of literature and the English language, died this week (Oct. 6, it is thought) in 1536. Tyndale was an English scholar whose Protestant beliefs and facility with languages would prove revolutionary in furthering the Protestant Reformation, but also in modernizing the way English was written and spoken.
A primary goal of Martin Luther's preaching was to end the overreliance on the Catholic Church and the pope when it came to interpreting God's teachings. Luther wanted people to be able to read the Bible and interpret it for themselves, so he translated it into his native German.
Tyndale did Luther one better. He was the first person to translate the New Testament into English from its original Greek, and because printing presses were becoming readily available, Tyndale's translation of the New Testament, or Tyndale Bible, as it was called, was widely disseminated.
"I defy the Pope and all his laws," Tyndale wrote, "and if God spares my life ere many years I will (even) cause the boy that driveth the plow to know Scripture."
Tyndale's Protestant beliefs did not sit well with the Anglican Church in England, especially its founder and sovereign, King Henry VIII, and when Tyndale wrote a pamphlet criticizing Henry's divorce of Catherine of Aragon and marriage to Anne Boleyn, Henry vowed revenge. Although Tyndale was on the European continent at the time, agents of Henry eventually arrested him for heresy and burned him at the stake.
But his legacy lives on. By one estimate, 83 percent of the New Testament in the famous King James Bible borrows from Tyndale. Some of the most famous phrases in the English language are his, including, "Am I my brother's Keeper?" "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. " "The patience of Job." "The signs of the times." "With God all things are possible." And even "Eat, drink and be merry."
Tyndale also had a profound influence on William Shakespeare. In his writings and phrasings, Shakespeare borrowed heavily from both the Bible and Thomas Cranmer's first Book of Common Prayer, which itself borrowed heavily from, and some say outright plagiarized, Tyndale.
(by Bruce Kauffman)