Grandma is Baptized

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Sunday, July 6, 1913:  I went through a solemn duty this morning. I jointed the church and was baptized. I must strive to keep the promises.

McEwensville

Recent photo of the site where the McEwensville Baptist Church once stood.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

In the past I’ve wondered which church Grandma attended as a teen—and finally decided that it probably was the Baptist one. This entry provides further confirmation that Grandma was Baptist when she was young.

In 1913 there were three churches in McEwensville—Lutheran, Reformed (United Church of Christ) and Baptist.  After Grandma married Raymond Swartz she attended the Lutheran church.

In the diary Grandma mentioned the Lutheran and Reformed churches by name when she visited them for a special event—but she provided no church name when she attended her regular church. This suggests that she didn’t attend either the Lutheran or Reformed church–but rather that she went to the Baptist one.

I’ve been a little uncomfortable with that conclusion since the Baptist Church closed in the late 1910s or early 1920s—and the building was torn down many years ago. In the diary, Grandma seemed to really enjoy attending Sunday School almost every week which suggests that the church was still very active in 1913—but I’m now almost certain that she attended the Baptist Church.

I wonder if Grandma was baptized in Warrior Run Creek. It flows through McEwensville (as well as along the edge of the Muffly Farm).

Warrior Run Creek near the Muffly farm

Warrior Run Creek near the Muffly farm

21 Responses

  1. ‘Solemn duty,’ most baptisms are far from solemn now. Just love reading how our world has changed.

  2. it seems to be fun trying to figure out things by process of elimination sometimes–that is history for you

  3. Would there be baptismal records held in central church archives? I once tried to find my grandmother’s baptism record but was told all the old records had been moved to a central location in the city. Not sure what has happened to those records since the earthquakes. Did they even survive the devastation?

    • I don’t know. Until I read your question, I never thought about the possibility that the records might be in a central church archive somewhere. Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll have to pursue it sometime when I have a little spare time.

  4. So many rituals were much more solemn than they are now.
    Glad you were able to figure out which was Grandma’s church. Too bad the building’s no longer standing.

    • Yes, it would be nice if it was still standing–but I’ve been very fortunate that so many of the buildings mentioned in the diary are still standing (and generally in good condition), so I guess I shouldn’t complain. :)

  5. I have a 1913 dictionary, and here are the entries for “solemn:” 1. Marked with religious rites … enjoined by, or connected with religion; sacred. 2. Pertaining to a festival; festive; festal. 3. Stately, ceremonious; grand. 4. Fitted to awaken or express serious reflections; marked by seriousness; serious; grave, devout; as, a solemn promise; solemn earnestness. 5. Real; earnest; downright. 6. Affectedly grave or serious; as, to put on a solemn face.8. Made in form; ceremonious; as, solemn war; conforming with all legal requirements; as, probate in solemn form.

    Just for fun, I compared that to today’s Webster and found the idea of being marked by religious sanction or ceremony still there, along with “awe-inspiring: sublime” But the definition, “somber, gloomy” has now been added as the last concept.

    I have no doubt Helena was expressing a sacred promise made with an earnest intention. Nothing gloomy about it!

    • Wow, where did you get a 1913 dictionary?

    • I think that Grandma was taking the promises that she made during the baptism ceremony very seriously.

      It’s really interesting to read the definitions from the 1913 dictionary. . . and it’s interesting how somber and gloomy have been added in recent years.

  6. It seems to me that one day you’ll able to ask Helena in person! You do some great detective work I must say!

  7. I wonder if they had a small celebration for the occasion.

  8. In my neck of the woods (growing up) Reformed meant the Dutch Reformed church. What a neat entry!

  9. Very thoughtful questions and, once again, your Grandmother’s words…thoughtful, full of heart, soulful.

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