Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Retrospective on 1871

Rosina Richardson to Rosina Jane Stevens. Rosina Richardson lived in Vermont; her daughter and family had moved to Elgin, Minnesota.

East Topsham, Jan 9th, 1872

My dear Children,

Yours bearing date Jan 2nd is before me and I hasten to reply, am sorry you are not feeling well, also sorry for David’s head. We had hoped he had fully recovered from his injuries last spring, hope all are better now.

The year 1871 with its many memorable events has passed as have many, very many before it, to return no more forever. Yet the scenes that have been enacted in the great drama of life will be indelibly imprinted upon our memories, how much of joy or sorrow has been our lot to bear is but known to ourselves. It is a true saying that “each heart knows its own sorrow”. It is well it is so ordered. Why should we reveal to man our griefs and heartaches? Would they alleviate them? Would they truly sympathize with us? Would they mitigate our sorrows? Surely not. Then let us lay our burdens at Jesus’ feet. He has a balm for every wound. He will bind up the brokenhearted. He is the great physician of souls, having suffered Himself he knows how to sympathize with us in our afflictions and He will ever leave nor forsake them that put their trust in Him. He is ever ready to bestow upon us every needed blessing. Where upon earth can we find so true a friend both in prosperity and adversity. Earthly friends may cling to us in the sunshine of prosperity but let clouds arise and adverse fortune overtake us and where are they? They have deserted us for those upon whom fortune has been more lavish of his gifts and we are left to struggle alone as best we can. The dearest earthly ties may be severed and those we have trusted most prove false, then let us be thankful we have a Haven of rest to which we can flee amid all the storms of life. Joy and sorrow are ever in our pathway through this vale of tears. Still let us ever be thankful to the Giver of all good for our many blessings and strive to be reconciled to the allotments of pain, in silence bearing our trials with Christian firmness, trusting in God always “who doeth all things well” and if we are faithful we shall in God’s good time moor our bark in the Haven of rest where all is peace and joy ----.

Our healths are not very good this winter. My cough is better “old age is creeping on apace” and we feel its effects sensibly. How I wish I could see you. The time, oh so long since you left home. When, oh when shall I have that blessed privilege? “Echo answers When.” Our friends in this place are usually well. Eva’s health is better. We spent Christmas with them, had a Turkey and Chicken supper, plumb pudding and various other fixings. Eva says he’s very pleasant since that time. So don’t worry your precious life away, but hope for the best.

It has been quite sickly in this section of late. Canker Rash is prevailing and in very many cases proves fatal. Quite a number of children have died. There have been a number of aged people in our town that have died recently. I will mention J F Teague, Amos Farland and John Lang, father to James Lang. A Mrs. Smith, wife of Henry Smith (son of Bud Smith) died last Friday leaving a young babe. She had not been married a year.

We have had very cold weather this fall and winter snow is quite deep. We had a letter from Nat’s folks recently. All well. Julia wrote Henry talked of coming after his children. Said she hoped he would not take Carrie. Mr. ____ folks want her adopted by law so she can inherit their property. They are very fond of her. Why don’t Henry write. I wish he would write oftener.

Give love to them each – I want to see you all more than I can express,

Your mother as ever,

R. R.

Jane, I received our magazine last Tuesday; will send it to you soon. Much love – all write – write often – to all.

Just received a letter from Br. J (Joseph Warren Healy), he sailed for Europe this 6th of this month. He paid all he owed for dear Mother’s board. Please remember us to Mr. Wight (or Mr. Wright’s) folks.

How many changes!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Birthday greetings from 1893

Found among the letters kept by my grandmother and great-grandmothers,
a birthday note for Ella Jane Sherwood (nee' Stevens) to her parents. Ella Jane was in her early 40's at this time.

May 1st and 5th
Dear Father and Mother

I write you a birthday letter
Filled with hope and wish sincere
That with more of peace and gladness
You may each be crowned each year;
That Time, as with him you journey,
May touch you with gentle hand;
That friends may around you gather
A true and steadfast band;
That the love of God will make more smooth
Your way as it westward leads
That no day shall fleeting leave you
Unblessed by some loving deeds:
Deeds that to you from dear ones
Are signs of some loving thought.
Deeds that you do for others
With their double blessings fraught

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


The following was written for my great-grandmother by her grandmother. It is not dated, but likely written between 1867 when Ella was adopted by David and Rosina (Richardson) Stevens and before 1872 when great-great-great Grandmother Richardson passed away. Rosina Richardson was the daughter of Jane Healy mentioned previously.

I see their smiles and can almost touch their hands, in spite of the more than a dozen decades that separate us in time.

An Acrostic for Ella from her Grandmother [Rosina Healy] Richardson

E – Every word of God is pure.
L – Let thy garments be always white
L – Love your enemies, love those that curse you
A – And let the beauty of God be upon you.

J – Judge not that you be not judged
A – Ask and it shall be given unto you
N – No man can serve two masters
E – Enter ye into the strait gate

S – Seek the Lord and His strength, seek his face ever more
T – Take therefore no thought for tomorrow
E – Enter not into the path of the wicked
V – Verily I say unto you, they have their reward
E – Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit
N – Not unto us O Lord, but unto thy name be glory
S – So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul. When though has found it then there shall be a reward.

R ------

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Jane Tabor Healy, wife of Nathaniel Healy

It's fun doing old geneology stuff and looking back in time. Today I was looking at the 1870 census and there she was, the oldest relative for whom I have personal documentation (a letter from her daughter to family talking about her death). It's amazing to look at those old census sheets and see the name of a family member. There she was, 84 years old, with death coming in just a few more months, but as yet unknown to her. She had to have a general idea, however, because she was up there in years. She was my great-great-great-great grandmother, born in 1786. She lived until 1870. Her daughter, my great-great-great grandmother only lived another 19 months after her mother died. My great-great grandmother, her daughter, lived until 1912 and her daughter Ella until 1925. My father was two years old when she passed away. I feel that I am reaching back in time, hearing their voices in the old letters I've come to own. They were strong and hearty women, strong physically and strong in faith in the God who had always proven faithful to them. What a heritage they given me, handing it down over the years and the generations.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

God Speed, Kathy Albright

Two days ago an acquaintance of mine (not really a friend, but someone whose company I had enjoyed over the short time I'd known her before she was diagnosed with melanoma) passed away after a year and a half of illness. She will be sorely missed by her family and her friends. She will be missed by those of us who didn't know her well and were inspired by her heart for the Lord and her love for others. It's so sad when someone has to leave us so early in their life. Death is so much easier to accept when a person has had a long, industrious and successful life, well loved and a pillar of their family than when they leave small children and work seemingly only half done.

Fortunately, we can count on God knowing what he's doing. We don't know what the future will hold, but he does. I think of my great grandmother's first husband, drowned attempting to rescue his friend, leaving her and his less than a year old daughter. She, Ella Jane, was so devastated that her in-laws (with whom they had been living) said they had to watch her to make sure she didn't wander off and injure herself. She was beyond grief. But years later she married my great grandfather and my grandmother was born about twelve years after her first husband died. This isn't to say that the death of Elmer Atwater was a blessing, but without it I wouldn't be writing this post. Life is strange and only understood from the end looking back. Do I wish her first husband had died? No. Am I glad she married my great grandfather? Well, yes!

An old testament professor I had in college years ago said that the Old Testament Israelites had a concept that they looked at the past and walked backward into the future (figuratively) because the future was unknown and could not be seen. Jeremy and family, I hope you can see Kathy, your dearly loved, clearly through your tear-filled eyes as you look into the past and that you can keep trusting the Father of Lights as you walk backwards into the coming days. My heart is sad for you. There are no words at a time like this.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Having to Deal with Bull Puckey

Honestly, it's hard to believe what some people will do. Three years ago my daughter signed up for a "black belt club" at a local, and perhaps to remain unnamed Taekwondo school that was named for a person and is now named for a large West Coast city. Anyway, first we had one daughter and later another sign up for classes. The second daughter got hooked by his classy "black belt club" which required a three year contract. Should have realized he was pretty slick then since there was no "out " of the three years. We set it up so that we would pay it off in 18 months rather than the three years. This gave us a somewhat significant discount and got the pain overwith (or so we thought) in a timely manner. We gave her the "fulfill your responsibilities" lecture and off we went.

She attended the classes for about two years. Then she began getting more sporadic. She got so she hated the testing. The teacher is a bit snide and sarcastic when they don't know all the Korean words or faltered on their poomse -- form. Part of the time she deserved the reprimand if not the tone, so we weren't always sympathetic. After all, she does tend to be a bit lazy and it did take some discipline.

Finally the last six months she just refused to go. Fine with us. We'd gotten most of the benefit of it and her interests had changed. And just a couple of months ago, I was going through the file drawer and saw the Taekwondo file and shredded it. After all, we were done with that.

Mid March I was wondering where my bank statement was and was getting a little concerned. Great - probably got delivered to the wrong box. Finally the husband brought it in -- it had been left for several days in the truck. So I got right on balancing the checkbook when what to my wondering eyes should appear but ANOTHER bank deduction for that same old stupid Taekwondo school. It had been 18 months since I'd last seen that and, why, just a month ago I'd been reveling in the fact that that was all done.

So off to the bank I went to discover that not only had he deducted the fee once, but he had deducted it twice. Yes, for some reason he thought he could just mosey right on into my bank account without so much as a by-your-leave. Needless to say, I reversed both of those charges. It takes a lot of gall to just start making deductions within so much as a thought of putting the whole family's finances at risk by us unknowingly bouncing checks all over the city. It makes a difference when you think you have $450 in the bank and in reality you have about 60.

Needless to say I was a bit peeved. I left a message on his voice mail and the next day he "returned my call." Obviously he must do this quite often. No, not one word of "oh, my, how distressing for you - I'm sure we can work this out. Oh no, none of that. Just a humor-laden voice lecturing me about the contract and my personal responsibility. I couldn't believe it. He was like something out of a nightmare. He said he would send a copy of the contract by registered mail. I said I would come and get a copy and that was when he said that if I came over he would call the police because I was threatening him. Obviously he has been coached by a slick lawyer, or if he does this on his own, he has all sorts of potential psychological diagnoses.
I hadn't threatened him. I was talking loudly and quickly and I was definitely mad at him. There was no way I couldn't be mad at him. I mean really, he'd only taken to debiting money out of my account without my knowledge. I always taken that with equinamity - doesn't everyone?

When I told him that I had reveresed those payments, he then had the gall to tell me I would go to collections. But my hackles really got up with his accusation of threatening him. So I wrote out the whole scenario and gave a copy to the police; sent a copy to the city licensing and sent a copy to the better business bureau. I'll be sending follow up letters to each regardless of how this turns out so they can hear "the rest of the story." I wasn't threatening him; I was protecting myself.

I'm talking to an attorney tomorrow. Oh, he did send the contract -- which has a little "renewal" wording at the end (not initialled, not pointed out; just snuck in there without so much as a by-your-leave) and a little letter letting us know how much we have to pay to get out of this little kerfuffle. Maybe I'll get stuck paying him something; maybe not. But I'm making sure that when this is over I'm completely done with him, hense the attorney.

But I'm comforted by several things. All of my friends are now aware of what a creepy businessman he is. Fortunately for him, most of them don't have kids the age of his school. One works in an office of a local high school -- and they all talk; one works in the library at another local high school; another works for a large medical clinic and the last works for Snohomish County health. Regardless of how much money he gets, it won't be worth the ill-will that he has engendered. What goes around comes around -- if he treats people this way, I'm sure that others will treat him that way too. I had another neighbor who had told me he was corrupt, but back then I had defended him. (I'm feeling insecure about my judgement of character).

I'm attempting to maintain a godly attitude through this and I must say it is hard. But I try to keep the long range in mind. We're told to pray for our enemies, and although I didn't think I had any, apparently I do have and this is my opportunity to practice this. Not much fun. But then on the other hand, the Bible also says, "what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul." Obviously he's a long ways from a repentant life. Perhaps in his effort to gain the whole world he is sacrificing his soul. So, I'll try to remember that it's not worth his soul spending eternity in hell and so I'll pray that he sees the error of his ways.

So, what if I'm stuck with a stupid payment to him that could be much better used towards my kids tuition, the carpet my house needs, the new windows that I would like to replace, the car that will need to take the place of my old "standby" that has 210,000 miles on it. This too shall pass. I just hope that it passes quickly. And if he ends up with any of my money, I hope that "it gives him as much peace as we had while he was trying to wrest it from our grasp."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Water Under the Bridge

It's over, the job of almost eleven years, is past. My last day was December 31st. It was almost surreal knowing that not only was I being sent out the door, but that in just a couple more months the whole thing was in the past. New Hope is no more. Yesterday I took cookies to the final five and to my delight was also able to take my chair home with me. Yes, the chair and I have been together for a long time, so we've melded into a comfortable unit. It's almost like old times this morning, sitting in it and typing away. But it's not old times. The door is shut and the keys have been turned in.

It's only fitting that yesterday it began snowing. Sort of like heaven was covering up the ickiness. Burying the body so to speak under the beautiful snow.

It's history now. No use crying over the spilled milk as they say; it can't be rebottled or put to good use. It's water under the bridge. But a travesty it was.