Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Surprise Connection

I co-teach a Life Focus Group (aka. Sunday School class) at the Tehachapi Nazarene Church. We are going through the Sermon on the Mount, and two weeks ago it was my turn to teach from Matthew 5:11-12.

"Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

About the same time we began teaching from this passage, I stumbled on a series of sermons by John Piper on the Beatitudes. His sermon that covers this passage is appropriately titled Blessed Are the Persecuted.  Jesus' words are never easy. In fact they are impossible without the in filling of Holy Spirit. (All things are possible with God!) But this one, "Blessed... Rejoice and be glad" when you are persecuted! Whew! Yet if you stop and think about it, Jesus is saying store your treasure in heaven, not on the earth (Matt. 6:19-20).

In this passage Jesus encourages us to consider the prophets who went before us (also see Hebrews 11:36-38). In his sermon John Piper suggested that we consider those who rejoiced though facing suffering and death since Jesus walked the earth.

Some of people whose testimonies Piper presented I knew, many I did not. One I person I hadn't heard of was Obadiah Holmes.  John Piper wrote the following regarding him, "What moved Obadiah Holmes, after ninety lashes turned his back to jelly for Jesus, to say to the magistrates, "You have struck me with roses"? " 

I was curious to learn more about Obadiah, so I went to the fount of knowledge and looked him up.

This incident is described in Wikipedia:

"In 1650 he and others were taken to court for their religious views and practices, and compelled to leave the colony [Massachusetts]. He settled in Newport in the Rhode Island colony and soon befriended John Clarke and John Crandall. In July 1651 these three men, while visiting an elderly friend in Lynn, Massachusetts, were apprehended, tried, and given exorbitant fines for their religious practices. Friends paid the fines for Clarke and Crandall, but when Holmes learned of this he refused to allow them to pay his fine. Six weeks after trial he was taken to the whipping post in Boston and given 30 strokes, which were laid on so harshly that for weeks afterward Holmes could only sleep while on his knees and elbows."

A Surprise Connection 

Not to take away from Obadiah's suffering and his super natural response, after reading this I had to stop. I audibly said to myself, "Wait, I know John Crandall." John Crandall is an ancestor of mine, an 8th great grandfather.  In my last blog I wrote of my 2nd great grandfather, Oscar Babcock. John Crandall was Oscar's 3rd great grandfather. Small world.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

North Loup, Nebraska. Photos in a box – Part 1

A lot has transpired in the two years since my last post. On April 14, 2012, I mentioned an intention to post photos from our summer 2011 genealogical vacation. That never happened.  Also, I mentioned that I intended to use this site at a "Genealogical Rescue" site. That did happen, but not through this site. A family Bible that I purchased in 1991 at garage sale was returned to a family member last year. Today's post is about old photos and a rescue in the making.

My grandmother, Nola Gowen, was born in the tiny town of North Loup Nebraska, in 1902. Her mother, Myra Babcock was the daughter of one of the founders of the town, Oscar Babcock. Nola’s father, William Gowen, co-owned the largest general store in town, and William’s father ran the largest hotel at one time. Nola by all accounts was a gentle, caring, positive, godly woman. Unfortunately I never knew her, she died five months before I was born. But I am certain that her prayers for me, though not yet born, have had an influence on my life.

Oscar & Metta (Bristol) Babcock. Wedding Photo June 1858
Oscar & Metta (Bristol) Babcock.
Wedding Photo June 1858
Myra Babcock, January 1893

Nola (age 16) with her father William in Los Angeles, 1918. Months before his death.
Nola (age 16) with her father William in
Los Angeles, 1918.
Months before his death.
The Arlington House hotel in North Loup, before 1895.
William's father and mother (John and Maria)
are in this photo just to the right
of the window on the left.

Nola’s grandfather, Oscar Babcock, also was the founding pastor of the Seventh Day Baptist church in North Loup, Nebraska.  (Google records  about 6,000 hits for “Oscar Babcock”  (with quotes)).
Wikipedia briefly summarizes the founding of North Loup:

In 1871, a party of Seventh Day Baptists from Wisconsin explored Valley County for settlement sites. In May 1872, they established a community near what is now North Loup. A post office and general store were established in 1873; in 1877, the town of North Loup was formally organized. The name was taken from the North Loup River, in whose valley the village lies.
Oscar organized that 1871 scouting party.
His life accomplishments were nicely summarized in the eulogy given at his funeral:

Oscar Babcock was licensed to preach in 1858; at the same quarterly meeting when a like call came to A. H. Lewis and to A. B. Prentice. He was not ordained till twelve years later, that is, in 1872. He was a member of the state [Wisconsin] legislature in 1863-4 and in 1865-6. He was promoter and president of a scheme of colonization that resulted in the establishment of a Seventh-day Baptist society in North Loup, Nebr. He has been pastor at Dakota, Wisconsin, and at North Loup. He was Sabbath school superintendent in North Loup for seventeen consecutive years. He was postmaster at Dakota and was connected with the post office department while member of the Wisconsin legislature. He was postmaster at North Loup for about twenty-seven years. He was the first preacher in Valley county, preaching the first sermon among the covered wagons camped near the river May 18, 1872. A rocking chair was used for a pulpit. He performed the first marriage and conducted the first funeral. He assisted in organizing Valley county in 1873 and was the first county judge. He laid out the site of North Loup which was a part of his homestead. For years he was chairman of the village board and of the school board. He was also immigration agent and county commissioner for many years. At one time he was superintendent of schools for Valley county. In 1878 he was elected to the legislature of Nebraska.
North Loup was essentially established as a Seventh-day Baptist colony, though, it wasn't exclusive. Anyone was welcome.  Because of the relatively small size of the denomination since it’s American founding in Rhode Island in 1665, there was a considerable intermarriage among church members. Of course there was. These are the people you worship with, they are your very best friends. You share life together as a congregation, celebrating births and weddings and comforting those left behind at funerals.

I am a product of that Seventh-day Baptist community. I have three photos taken in 1938 of the adult, teen and children’s North Loup SDB Sunday classes. Every person is identified.  As I started going through these photos I realized that I am related to about 90 percent of these people through marriage or blood.  The more I work on these families, the more tightly I find them connected.
Just a few weeks ago when I spotted a photo on ebay of “George Miller taken at North Loup, Nebraska.” I was interested. Wasn't I related to most of the people of North Loup? He could be a cousin! The ebay posting went on to say "I purchased purchased a box of antique photos sometime ago at an estate sale… So I am putting them on ebay.”  After I contacted the seller she did put the entire box (of some 75 photos) up for auction, and I won it.

I will relate what I found in the box in my next post.

postscript: The photos posted here are also available at the links below:
Oscar Babcock
Myra Babcock
John Brackett Gowen
William Gowen
Nola Gowen