Monday, December 30, 2013

Another Bit of Family History--From the Revolutionary War

My grandmother, Rhoda Hamilton Mackey, was descended on her mother's side from the Ownbeys. The line the following article is about goes:

Rhoda Rachel Hamilton (1886-1974)
Nancy (Ownbey) Hamilton (wife of Joel Mackey Hamilton) (1861-1906)
James C. Ownbey (1828-1906)
Madison Ownbey (1801-1868)
James Ownbey (1761-1850)
John Ownbey (1735-1824)

The article is about the Revolutionary War service of James Ownbey. It is interesting to see how that hodgepodge army was put together with very short term enlistments. James Ownbey served six enlistments, some of them as a replacement for someone else. My understanding is that this was a fairly commonplace event--if you didn't want to serve and could afford it, you could pay someone to go in your place. He was 17 when he first went as a substitute for another man, and he was in and out of service for the next five years.

Gravestone donated by the DAR as described in the article.
It is amazing, the things that can be found on the Internet!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Lost in Bookland

For the past several days I have been lost. . .

lost in a world not quite like my everyday world.

It is part of the wonder of reading that ink on paper, or electronically produced words on a small device, can pull a person into a place that becomes very real and vivid in the mind.

Movies are great, and the technology that produces amazing special effects is mind-boggling. Most of the world seems to be hooked up to some sort of digital entertainment these days.

And I don't dislike these modern developments; I appreciate many of them a great deal.

But, for me, they cannot beat falling into the world a good writer creates with words--words that create brilliant mental landscapes. Words that make the world of the book more real than the mundane surroundings of reality.

I come from a reading family. My parents were readers, all six of their children have been readers, and the reading gene has gone through most of their numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

And just because it is one of my all-time favorite photos, I will share this one with you.

Jerry reading to Megan when she was about four. They are at Grandma Rose's.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

1914 Was a Difficult Year for the Mackeys

1914 saw the deaths of two people who were very important to Will and Rhoda Mackey (my grandparents). Will's father, Joel Elliott Mackey, the family patriarch (and confederate cavalry veteran) died on June 10th, at the age of 87. Less than three months later tragedy struck the family when Burtie Mackey, Will and Rhoda's first child, died on September 2nd, aged eight and a half.
Joel Elliott Mackey

Joel Elliot Mackey Death Certificate
Joel E. Mackey's Tombstone

Death Certificate of Burtie Mackey

Burtie's death certificate (where his name is misspelled "Bertie") states that he died of Gastric Fever, with the contributory condition of Paralysis. (I wonder--was this referring to his cerebral palsy, or was it an additional paralysis such as would be caused by polio?) What "Gastric Fever" really was in today's medical knowledge, we'll never know, but it proved fatal for Burtie.

Two years later Will and Rhoda, with their children Vera, Boyce, and Rose, emigrated to Wyoming as homesteaders.

I don't remember Grandma Mackey ever mentioning her firstborn and his loss. Evidently she just couldn't talk about it. I did hear Vera's story about how Burtie (who today would be diagnosed as having cerebral palsy), would think up mischief and have his little sister Vera carry it out.

Burtie Mackey
Burtie's full name was Burton Clarence Mackey. He was born March 16, 1906, in Idaho. He died and is buried in North Carolina. (His parents lived in Idaho for a time when they were first married, and one of the things Will did during that time was drive a stagecoach.)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

In the Little Things

Today our pastor gave a message about seeing Jesus in the little things. He used a number of Scriptures and examples, but here's what stuck with me.

A friend of the pastor's is a man from Africa named David. He had told how it was once very difficult for him to speak of his Christian faith to his people, because they see Christianity as a white man's religion. Then a little thing jumped out for him from the Scriptures. It was the story of how Joseph took Mary and the young Jesus to Egypt to escape Herod. Jesus had lived in Africa! He can now explain to his fellow Africans that Jesus is not just for the white people. Jesus knows and experienced life in Africa. He is for Africans.

In speaking of God being in the little things, we were reminded of the importance of little things that are happening while we may be hoping for some big miracle, some extraordinary event.

Thinking of little things, I wonder how many I have overlooked as being a touch of God. An amusing event or a funny story in a blog that gives me a moment of laughter to lighten my day. An appreciative comment after I've taught a class that encourages me to continue doing it. A hug from my granddaughter. A book that takes me to places I'll never actually go to. A phone call from my elderly aunt with words of appreciation and encouragement. Those are just a few "little things" that were in my life in the past few days. If I keep thinking about it, I'm sure many more will come to mind.

At the close of the message this morning, everyone in the congregation received a gift. The gift was one white baby sock. It is to remind us to see God in the little things. I'm going to hang mine on the Christmas tree. Every time I notice that little white sock, my mind will turn to the little things that bless my life.