August 25, 2015

Rev. Hugh Earseman Served Parishioners for over 50 years

Being a Pastor or Minister of a congregation is a demanding job.  There are sermons to prepare, sick people to visit, and mourners to comfort.  Parishioners need counseling and support through their trials.  Keeping up with these demands as well as being a husband and father would make this all the more difficult.  Certainly it takes a special person to serve as a Minister.

Often I am sure a Minister might prefer to move and begin fresh in a new congregation.  Perhaps this would help with inevitable burn out.  Or maybe one might want to jump into leadership and supervise other clergy instead.

Reverend Hugh Fraser Earseman served his congregation for over 50 years as their Minister.  As Joel, a member of the Edenburg Presbyterian Church in Knox Pennsylvania wrote, "It is extremely rare for a pastor to serve one church for over fifty years, and Reverend Earseman served the Edenburg church for a total of 54 years.  Local newspapers recorded that over two hundred people came on the wintry day of February 27th, 1934 to the celebration that was held to celebrate pastor Earseman’s 50th year of service.  Reverend Hugh F. Earseman was called as the second formally installed pastor. He served from February 1, 1887 until October 30, 1938. 

Hugh Earseman was born in 1858 in Pennsylvania to Scottish immigrants.  Something inspired him to pursue the ministry; Hugh was ordained to the ministry on 30 June 1885 and 'Reverend' Earseman took over the decade old congregation in 1887.  He even supervised the tearing down of the Old Winebrennarian Church where they had met since formation in 1876, and the building of the currently standing church in 1897.  

I know very little about this caring man of God, at least about his training and upbringing.  What I do know a lot about is his love for his congregation and his family.  How might I know?  After all, I am an unrelated woman living in Georgia decades after his death.  

I have come into possession several letters the Reverend wrote to a relative of mine, a Mrs. Carrie Bloss Lynde, who was a member of his congregation for a time.  As she moved back home, Reverent Earseman wrote to her neatly typewritten letters of encouragement and love.  He even spoke at her funeral when she died some years later.  So in a way, I know a great deal about Reverend Earseman, more than dates and facts can tell.  

In each letter, he not only asks how Carrie is, but shares how others she knew from the congregation are doing.  He offers encouragement in her health problems.  And he encourages her to visit and/or update him on her condition.  And he shares details of his children's lives-- how they are doing, what they are doing.  His love shows.  Listen to how he shares his love in the following quotes:

"I do hope you are well and that you plan to come to see us some time.  Maybe when the roads get good we could drive up and get you.  May the new year be good to you."  

"I hope you are better soon.  When you can do so send me a card or some news.  I shall be anxious to hear from you.  I assure you I shall hope most earnestly for your recovery and send you best wishes.  Very truly yours."

In another, he encourages her with information of someone in similar circumstances. "I got your letter today and was both sad and glad over it.  I was sorry you had to go to the hospital and suffer the pain and anxiety of an operation.  But I was glad you are better and hope that soon you may be entirely well and strong as ever.  I always dread operations for any of my friends.  You never know just what you will find."

Here is how he describes who must be his children or grandchildren living with him in 1929:  "Marjory and Karl were here ... Lois came the day before them.  Marjory read the Three Bears and other little books till they knew them by heart.  Both are rather fine looking children.  Bobby is a big white headed boy.  He is smart and knows all the Mother Goose Rhymes and will say speeches by the hour.  He learns anything very rapidly and so does Josephine.  Just repeat any little verse to them a time or two and they know it and do not seem to forget it at all."

In 1930 his update included this information, "Both of the little ones were sick... Bobby was very sick one day with temperature above 104 degrees.  But they are all right now and Josephine has not missed a day at school so far.  She likes to go and is learning to read fast.  Bobby gets lonesome for her some days.  The little Clover youngsters come over and play with him."

In 1933 he wrote, "Josephine and Bobby are both in school.  This is the third year for her and the first for Bobby.  Both have done well.  Bobby likes his teacher very much.  He is rather a nice looking boy.  Josephine is red-cheeked, black hair and quite chubby.  She is a dear little girl and very helpful.  Bobby is light haired.  Both are full of life and like to play."

Of himself, he is modest and grateful.  In 1933 he wrote, "I have not been any too well.  At times I have severe headaches.  I can get around as well as ever and for my age have much reason to be very thankful for the strength I have."  
He described a visit he made with an ill congregant.  His experience is probably typical of his ministry.  "Yesterday afternoon I went over to Clarion and stayed all night with Mr. a nd Mrs. C. W. Wisler.  They are both pretty well but Colonel is failing a good deal.  He delights in talking over old times and is full of tales of long ago.  He is past 81 years of age.  We have been friends for more than forty years, and I have known his wife that long.  We had a pleasant visit together.  Isabel took me over and I came home this forenoon on the bus."

Many more little living snippets like this show a man of God who loved and served his people.  I honor Reverend Hugh Fraser Earseman for his goodness, his service and his tenacity.

Sources:  "The Edenburg Presbyterian Church,"  Joel, Class of 2004.

Obituary of Carrie V. Bloss Lynde.

Letters in possession of Melanie Johnson, written by Reverent Hugh F. Earseman to Carrie Bloss Lynde, dated Jan 4, 1929- June 7, 1933.  Letters courtesy of Rita and Lee Goldthwaite.

General information about Hugh F. Earseman was found on  

P.S.  I would love to pass these letters on to his descendants.  Please contact me.  They belong in your hands.

April 13, 2015

Christian Missionaries Changed the way Polynesian's Dressed, and Housewives too.

I am dreaming about making myself a new dress-- a muumuu.  Some people think they are 'moo moo's' like big and ugly dresses for big women.  But I look at them as comfortable airy dresses.  Living in the hot South, I welcome the idea!  I ordered and received some beautiful Hawaiian fabric, so I did some research into what kind of muumuu I wanted.  I learned a lot-- I'd love to share what I learned since it is so interesting.

Protestant missionaries first went to the Polynesian islands in the early 1800's to preach Christianity.  They were appalled to see the natives  wearing very little clothing, due to the hot climate and lack of fabric.  Remember that they were pretty isolated from the world on their islands in the Pacific and only had leaves and flowers, and some rudimentary fabric they made out of fibers from wauke trees.  Men wore simple loincloths and women wore hula skirts.  Only native vegetation like flowers and leaves adorned the upper half of a woman's body.

Imagine a Mormon missionary coming to teach about the Gospel of Jesus Christ with people walking around dressed like that!  The missionaries immediately made up dresses that covered the women up as much as possible.  They were like plain tents with just something around the neck to hold them up.  They were called 'Mother Hubbard' dresses in America and Europe.  Now the missionaries could concentrate on teaching the natives about Jesus.

Tahitian women wearing Mother Hubbard dresses, taken between 1880 -1889.  Photo courtesy of the French National Library.  Note how they look more 'Tahitian' and less plain.
Over the years, the Polynesians  adapted these dresses to their tastes by using brightly colored fabrics.  They loved these dresses!  They were cool and comfortable and airy.  Different names were given to them on each of the Polynesian islands, and Hawaiians called them 'holoku.'  Over time, Holoku became more ornate with trains and fancy embellishment.  They wore them to ceremonies and special events.  A simpler dress for everyday wear became known as a 'Muumuu.'  It is now the trademark dress for Hawaiians.

This just goes to show you that an idea can have far reaching effects.  Those Protestant missionaries had no idea that they would create a fashion phenomenon  when they attempted to cover up the half-naked natives in the Polynesian Islands.  Now muumuu's are part of the culture of Hawaii, a trademark.  Millions of people have worn and continue to wear muumuu's.  

Vivian Dennis made muumuu's practical and easy for everyone to make.
As an aside, in the 1970's and 1980's, main-landers began wearing muumuu's around the house.  A woman named Vivian Dennis taught people how to make simple muumuu's out of just a single piece of fabric and a few seams.  She made a lot of women happy by simplifying the process.  Here's the pattern she drew for people who visited the fabric store where she sold Hawaiian print fabrics.  This looks so comfortable and airy!  And easy to make.

Pattern by Vivian Dennis
Use 45 inch wide fabric.
Measure length from shoulder to floor and double the length for fabric required.
The sketch measurements are about right for a size 18, but can be adjusted to your requirements.  Simply move positioning of the side seams (stitch line between points I and II) in toward the center to suit your figure.  
Neck can be made higher or lower by adjusting the cutting line.
Facing for neck can be secured from fabric remaining when lower corners are rounded off.  Piece if necessary.
Before cutting, fold fabric lengthwise then widthwise. 
Stitch shoulder seams.  Normal seam allowance is 5/8". 
Face neck.
Stitch side seams  between I and II on right side.
Round off lower corners as shown.
Make a shirt tail hem around all remaining raw edges.

Pattern found at The Evening Independent, Newspaper, St. Petersburg, Florida.  11 July 1981, pg. 3B.  Article written by Hazel Geissler.  Web page

Wikipedia:  Mother Hubbard Dress and Muumuu

March 3, 2015

Sarah Hurdle Created the Pants for a Whole Lot of Mormons

I apologize for my lapse in writing.  I've put other things first.  Sounds kind of lame but that's all I can say.  

I belong to Daughters of the Utah Pioneers here in Georgia.  When I was preparing for our next meeting in a few days, I ran across an article about that suit of clothes in the photo here.  It actually was about lots of clothes that are on display at the DUP museum in Salt Lake City.  But this one caught my attention.

The pants on the model were made in 1840 by a 12 year old girl!  You probably don't sew, but I do.  I started sewing when I was around 8 or 9 years old by watching my Mom.  I remember sewing Barbie clothes for myself and my sisters dolls.  My younger sister Stacey still played with baby dolls, and I made several outfits for her little dolls.  I learned to copy my favorite clothes by turning them inside out and tracing the seams onto newspaper.  Apparently I'm not the only one who figured out how to do this.

Twelve year old Sarah Hurdle sewed these pants in 1840 for her big brother to wear.  Years later, he crossed the plains in those pants.  The workmanship was so remarkable and the style so good that they were copied by the women in Utah.  (Or they were the only pair of pants to survive the trip in any shape to copy?)  According to a DUP scholar, almost every pair of pants worn in Utah after 1840 was made from the pattern taken from Sarah's pants!

Isn't it amazing that they lasted so long, and survived through such difficult circumstances.  Was it the homespun fabric Sarah used?  Or was the pattern such that the pants held together well?  I couldn't find any more information about Sarah or her brother to share with you.  But what I learned was so cool it was enough!

Was Sarah a Mormon Pioneer too?  Did she know that the pants she made became the 'standard' for pants that Mormon men in Utah wore?  If she wasn't a member and didn't emigrate to Utah, she probably never knew this.  Further--  Could it be that Levi Strauss took note of her pattern and integrated some of her ideas into his jeans?  And do any of her design elements survive to today?  In other words, does Sarah still influence our pants-wear generations later?

Next time I'm in Salt Lake, I will visit Sarah's pants in the DUP exhibit.  I want to take a closer look and see what was so special about these pants that they were so widely copied.  Maybe I can ask the DUP historians there for more information on Sarah.

This cool story shows me that we can have a positive influence on the world even when we have no idea we are doing anything spectacular.  In fact, making these pants may have been downright ordinary for Sarah, just like our daily lives today. How glad I am for journals!  If you're not keeping one yourself, please reconsider.  Your descendants will be so grateful.

Read about Sarah's pants here: Wadley, Carma.  "Pioneer Clothing:  Dressed for the West."  Deseret News. 30 Jan 2004.

Photo courtesy of Scott G. Winterton, Deseret Morning News