Most of you know our family was hit with a devastating diagnosis this past year. My husband was diagnosed with brain cancer. That said, after two craniotomies, radiation together with low dose chemo, and now cycles of the highest dose of chemo, he is doing remarkably well. For this cancer, there is no cure. There is treatment and he is responding quite well, better than most for a 71 year old man. It has been difficult for me to focus on much other than his care–some days I’m pretty shaky–but I’m here. Stable is a very good place to be, and that is how we describe his path thus far. So, how about a little genealogy?
Autograph book from 1891
The Smith Family
I began this series last year about an autograph book my mother found in her genealogy trunk. The first entry was written in 1891, and to our amazement, the book traveled from Wisconsin before landing in Oregon. The book’s owners, Charles Smith and his wife Maria Bixby Smith, likely handed the book to their oldest son Alfred Josiah Smith, who passed it to his daughter, Orah Smith Butterfield, then on to my grandma Lalla Marie Butterfield Geier Haggie, to my father Rod Geier, and then to my sister and me. The book is in remarkable condition, considering.
Up next is Walter A. Hall, the Smith’s pastor. What I remember about my grandma and her family is that they were staunch Methodists. At one time, my father considered studying to be a Methodist minister. Great grandma Orah was a firm believer, possibly reflected in her unwavering, do-or-die parenting when dad was growing up. Grandma Lalla played the piano at her Methodist church in Tacoma for many years, and I believe when she no longer played, the family piano was donated to their beloved church.
That the Smith’s pastor signed their book affirms my suspicion that faith ran deeply and was a big part of this family. I am guessing he was also their friend.
His signature reads as follows:
“May you always know and ever more fully too, “which is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe.”
Your pastor, Walter A. Hall, Stevens Point, Oct. 21st, 1903
My author contributor/partner-in-crime Susan was able to retrieve a news clipping about Walter A. Hall. Printed in the Stevens Point Journal in 1902, the below article describes Hall as the pastor of the St. Paul’s Methodist Episcopal church in Stevens Point in 1903. We are guessing this is the same man.
“He will endeavor to show what is the right attitude towards our brothers and sisters in this world. Attitude determines motive, while motive in turn shapes conduct. A true Christian neighborliness would solve all questions of industry and of state.”
Given today’s political climate, this entire country may have found benefit from that sermon. I delved a bit further into what the article revealed about Pastor Hall’s interests. Below is a short description of the two groups he preached to that early March day in 1902.
Modern Woodmen of America
“The society’s principal purpose is to pro-vide substantial death benefits for the widows, orphans and other dependents of deceased members, and for this purpose it issues to accepted members policies or certificates of insurance, and incidentally affords valuable fraternal privileges and advantages to all its members while living.”
The link will not post correctly, so I will state this quote comes from Illinois genealogy dot org, and the page is rock-island/societies/modern_woodmen_of_america.
Royal Neighbors of America
“Royal Neighbors of America is the largest fraternal life insurance society administered by women. Founded as a ladies’ auxiliary group to Modern Woodmen of America on December 5, 1888, in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Royal Neighbors of America was chartered as a fraternal benefit society on March 21, 1895, by a group of nine Illinois women. At the time, women didn’t have the right to vote, few were educated, and even fewer owned property. The group’s initial goal was to provide insurance products for under served women. The administrative structure and leadership of Royal Neighbors of America was run by women, many of whom were also involved with the suffrage movement.”
I’m proud to know my ancestors were associated with and likely influenced by such a compassionate and forward thinking pastor. We can only guess, but these snapshots of their lives lead me to believe the Smiths were a strong lot.
Do you know which churches your ancestors were affiliated with, and if so, how deeply their faith affected their lives?
Tidbit from the last post
Do you know?
Autograph books, originally used to collect signatures, were at the height of their popularity during the Civil War. Do you know which modern day book is now considered the replacement for the former autograph book?
Next: A post from 1894, Charles Albert Smith
Thank you for reading. ❤