You all know family history is our hobby - perhaps "hobby" is rather mild. I can remember when I was a girl in the 50's, the thought of the year 2000 was beyond my imagination. And now here we are, the generations chosen to carry us from one century to the next AND from one millenium to another. Two thousand years since the birth of Christ! And we are only the second group of people to be able to ring in a new millenium since Christ was born. Only twenty groups of people to be able to ring in a new century. Now, this is an AWESOME thought to use a term our younger people would use.
My Mother used to repeatedly comment on how technology had changed since she was a girl. She was born in 1909 in a very small town in Nebraska. And she died in 1989 here near Riverton, living with me. Telephones, electricity in common use, trolley cars to buses, horse and buggy to automobiles. And look at the advance in automobiles. Televisions, computers, appliances, you name it. And yet, in the last 10 years since she died, the technology has rapidly changed even more.
On my way home from work tonight, I was thinking about December 1899 and what our people might have been doing for the holiday. Did they have even a clue what the upcoming century would bring? Their lives were already starting to change a little, and from what I can read there was an undercurrent of excitement about the new century. But one thing was true then, as has been true with each change of the century for 2000 years and much longer for the life of mankind. Life went on - births, deaths, marriages, families. They had their good times economically, they had their bad times. Most of our ancestors in this country were farmers. They had their bumper crops, they had their droughts. Each year they planted, and they prayed. Some years they harvested and sold their crops. Other years, they received nothing for their labors. How heartbreaking it must have been to bury the babies who didn't make it! Or any child, or husband, or wife. What kept them going? They had two things in their favor --- FAITH in God and FAMILY unity.
One thing I can tell you about our studies in history in general. With each change of a century, there have been dire predictions, fears of trials and tribulations. And fears of the Apocalypse. Now, not one of us can predict when the end of the World will come. And I refuse to get into religion here more than I already have. However, I will leave one thought with you that should maybe point out the frutility of people's fears.
Here in Riverton, there is a big fight going on about Wal Mart building a new Super Store that will bring dire harm to the Main Street businesses, including ours. And they are right, businesses will be harmed, and many will close. And more than Wal Mart, there is a shadow of online shopping on the Internet which the first week after Thanksgiving had racked up fifteen billion dollars of national sales, taken from the established retail stores.
About two weeks ago, on one one of our mailing lists, there was a transcription of an article in an Ohio newspaper, dated December 1899. It was an editorial in the paper about Sears Roebuck and Company, and how their catalog and home shopping had already harmed the local general stores on Main Street. And they were fighting to get the catalog banned and Sears shut down. Enough said I believe.
Folks, it was the Industrial Revolution coupled with the pursuit of religious and individual freedoms that brought our people from the Old World. One of my lines were established hand loom weavers in Stonehouse, Lanark, Scotland when around 1850 the power looms were introduced. The family dispersed out. That particular branch I believe came to the USA looking for a way to make a living.It was FAITH and FAMILY that kept each family together as they turned their backs on their homelands, boarded ships that produced nightmares and landed in our great land to start over.
May God bless each and every one of you this year, and in the upcoming year. As we make history, let us all try to make it good history!
By Mary Thompson Saban
Perpetual Copyright 1999
Copies available upon request
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