Monday, November 19, 2012

America's Freedoms Lost

This story reflects the Worship and Work heritage of our early Americans. Under attack by socialism, we are now losing our national foundations right before our eyes.

"Pilgrims Going to Church" by George Henry Boughton (1867) 
Grandpa Walter Witherell labored hard as mechanic in his garage on the intersection of Massachusetts Route 66 at “the flats.” He served as official State Bee Keeper for many years, handling honey bees with no protective gear. Grandma Laura drove the school bus in Hampshire County through several generations of children. As driver, she delivered the Hampshire Gazette all along the rural route.

Of course, at their farm on the hill she cared for the sheep, milked the cows, sold the apples, and boiled the maple syrup into blocks of sugar. Did you ever eat taffy syrup on fresh fallen snow? Most of all, I remember her wood shed, pantry, and incredible full course, wood stove breakfasts.  

I benefited from observing their basic daily work and spiritual lives. So united were they, at the end of their lives they naturally died one night apart (Oct. 1968), as had his brother and wife, Earnest and Sadie Witherell.

Both were direct descendants of the early American Puritans in the Witherell, Church, and Blakesley ancestry. They worshiped in the Westhampton Congregational Church reflecting the simplicity of the early Puritans who built the foundations of this nation.

Westhampton Congregational
Church, founded 1779,
built 1785, 1816, 1829.
This church the townspeople established in 1779 and first built in 1785. Considered “the finest in the hill towns,” a new  church was built in 1816 that burned Feb. 18, 1829, and was immediately rebuilt that year.

The first pastor, Enoch Hale served 58 years. He was the dear elder brother to Capt. Nathan Hale, Washington's Revolutionary spy executed by the British (Sept. 22, 1776).

One member, Justin Edwards,  in a summer thunderstorm prayed with four friends in the Haystack Meeting (1806) which resulted in the founding of the great American Foreign Missions Movement. He served later as president of Andover Theological Seminary.

One ancestor, Rev. William Witherell, was a pastor so renowned in those early days of the Plymouth Colony, his church roll reflects some 608 baptisms. He served as pastor for 39 years from Sept. 2, 1645, till his death, Apr.9, 1685, at the the Second Church of Scituate, now after some 350 years, First Parish of Norwell.

William was born in 1600 and his mother is purported to be the daughter of John Rogers, the Smithfield martyr. William married Mary Fisher, Mar. 26, 1627, in Canterbury, Kent, England. William and Mary arrived in the Plymouth Bay Colony on board the ship Hercules in 1634. He was placed on the ministerial rolls by Cotton Mather.

The story is reported in the church archives that a young man, John Bryant, had a tendency to arrive late to Sunday service. So at an appropriate time following prayer in the service, the Rev. Witherell turned to address him.

“Neighbor Bryant, it is to your reproach that you have disturbed the worship by entering late, living as you do within a mile of this place. Especially since here is Goody Barstow who has milked seven cows, made a cheese and walked five miles to the house of God in good season” (Fewkes, R.M.).

John Bryant was not too put off by the rebuke. He married Pastor Witherell's daughter, Elizabeth, in 1657.

Even this early story reflects the worship and work heritage of these early Americans. I can't help adding, this very worship and work ethic which built America is under such severe attack by socialism, today. We are losing our national foundations right before our eyes.

Fewkes, R.M., “Church History: Lessons From 350 Years of History.” About Us, Feb. 2, 1992. 

“Witherell Family Genealogy”

"In God We Trust."
Blessed Thanksgiving!
Bill Hunt 

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