A Story of Sorrow and Courage

I have a Page! And I have no idea what to do with it. It was an accident that happened when I accessed my blog on WordPress and just pressed the wrong button. But here I am. I don’t know if I can do it justice in which case I will go back to posting on my facebook timeline and let posts show up on your newsfeed. To be determined.

That said, I want to tell you a family history story. The lineage backtracks as follows: Me>Doris Smart>J.Henry Smart>Hugh Smart who married Sarah Mitchell in 1866 in Ontario. He was 37, she was 19. He came to Canada with his parents Sam and Martha from Ireland. Sarah was born in England and came to Canada as an indentured servant. You can look up the details on what that meant to be indentured but I believe the short version is temporary unpaid servant or by definition, slave. She hired on to a family in exchange for passage.

I assume she fulfilled her contract and then married Sam but that’s pure guesswork. All the details I’ve found are stated here.

Mary Elizabeth was born June of 1867, Jane Eliza in Aug of ’69, Joseph Henry, my grandfather, October of ’71. Hugh Herbert is listed as 1875 followed by Martha Jane in May of 1875 telling me either my records are wrong on Hugh Herbert or they were twins. William J came in 1879. Six children in 13 years. Sarah was 32, Hugh was 50. How about a show of hands out there of men who want a 6th child at age 50.

Diphtheria came to Glenelg, Ontario in early 1880. It’s an ugly and fast acting, deadly infection. I won’t link it here. If you look it up, don’t click on Images too close to your last meal.

A plague.

Sarah and Hugh lost 11 year old Jane, Hugh Herbert at 5 or 6, and Martha Jane, 5, in March of that year. All three in one month.

Half, 50%, of their children in one month.

I don’t know who decided they were moving to Hugh’s brother Tom’s place in Saulte Ste Marie, Michigan or if the wagon was being loaded when the disease hit town or after losing just one child, but move they did, and fast, before more were grabbed by the ugly claws of a hungry monster. But not fast enough.

My grandfather, Joseph Henry remembered docking east of where the Soo Locks are now. He remembered that his dad had no money and had to charge the cost of shoeing the horses for the five or so miles to Tom and Catherine’s farm house. According to Mom, J.Henry took the reins and drove a wagon down main street at the age of nine.

For some reason I never asked for more details nor did Mom volunteer more information if she had any. Many times history is lost because no one wants to talk about it. Grandpa died when I was eleven. Being 500 miles away in Illinois I had few opportunities to talk with him as he wasn’t well those last few years.

But, isn’t it enough to understand that not too long ago and all time before that, life can happen to anyone and death in whatever form happens to everyone. What sorrows, fears, and tears we go through now is simply more of the same wearing different clothes.

We lean on each other, we lean on God and His Word, we weep at His feet, we enjoy what He gives. He has said in His Word 365 times, one for each day, “Fear not.” I hate this magnified fear that has hit us in the form of a virus. News reports swirl through the air but don’t let it nest in your hair. God’s got this. Covid19 has a 99% recovery rate. Treatments tried are working, forces are denying what works in France and elsewhere and are pushing for vaccines while the numbers are decreasing. Again, God’s got this. Have faith, not fear.

I’m not hiding in my house. I will not wear a mask in the open air and sunshine. Sunshine and summer’s warmth is ridding us of a virus far, far more under control than the scourge that ravaged my great grandparents’ family and town. And, as for similarities and details on diphtheria, I will delete woulda-coulda-shoulda commentary on how Grampa’s siblings could have been saved with masks and staying in. That was 1880. They knew some things but didn’t have the antibiotics and vaccines. Diphtheria still exists in other parts of the world and is now preventable and treatable. Diphtheria per se is not my point here.

Please, please be strong and courageous. Ask questions when something seems fishy and even when it doesn’t. Look around. Don’t take one source as your only source of information and pray for an outcome that allows us to move freely among the people we were told to teach of Jesus and His salvation. Rise up, warriors.

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