15-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Sunday, February 5, 1911: Went to Sunday school this morning. Went to church this evening with Ruth. It was rather quiet today. Everything seemed so quiet.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
There are so many pieces to the jig-saw puzzle that make up our ancestors’ lives. Questions like, “Which church did Grandma attend?” probably aren’t very important in the bigger scheme of things—but I’m curious. I asked my father. I searched for member records in church histories and other supplemental documents. However, the available data were inconclusive, and I still don’t definitively know the answer.
Based on a scan of the diary I can’t find any place where Grandma said which church she attended—though the diary entries indicate that she faithfully attended Sunday school. There were two or three churches in McEwensville one hundred years ago: St. John’s Reformed Church, Messiah Lutheran— and maybe a Baptist Church.
In the diary Grandma mentions the Lutheran and Reformed churches by name when she visits them—but she provides no church name when she attended her regular church. This suggests that she didn’t attend either of those churches–but rather that she went to the Baptist one. However, I’m somewhat uncomfortable with that conclusion since I know that the Baptist church closed early in the 20th century. Agnes Beard wrote in 1939 in her History of McEwensville:
“The Baptist Church, a brick edifice, has fallen into ruins, there being no members in or near the place to keep it in repair.”
Agnes Beard (1939)
Prior to reading Grandma’s diary I never thought about her religious beliefs. After she married Raymond Swartz she attended Messiah Lutheran Church. I don’t remember Grandma ever discussing religion—and was somewhat surprised that she probably was raised in a somewhat more conservative tradition than what she practiced as an adult.
As an older woman Grandma enjoyed visiting with friends in the “old ladies Sunday School class” at Messiah Lutheran. Both Grandma and Helen “Tweet” Wesner were in that class. Tweet never married and lived her entire life in McEwensville. It’s kind of cool how life-long friendships and relationships developed in this small community.