Saturday, June 07, 2014

Family History 2: From Quaker to Pilgrim

I started an experiment last Saturday, exploring US history from the vantage point of my ancestors, a kind of travel narrative through history that is nowhere near exhaustive but with a view to one small set of ordinary people. I started last week with my paternal grandparents.

There are lots of things I would want to put here for context, but since I'm on the road today, let me just mention some aspects of context that should go here.
  • Giving women the vote in 1920
  • The beginning of prohibition in 1920
  • The post-WW1 recession 
  • The urbanization of America
  • The widespread distribution of the automobile
  • The rise of the radio, the beginning of television at the end
  • protectionism against immigration, isolationism, nativism, KKK
  • The hedonism of a post-world war sense of meaninglessness
  • Scope's trial and the fundamentalist-modernist controversy
  • The rise of quantum mechanics
In 1920, my mother's father, Harry Allison Shepherd, was four years a widower and pastoring the Friends church in Hemlock, Indiana. From 1910-1916 he had been married to another Quaker minister, Orilla Kibbe, in Michigan, but they had no children and she died.

At this point I'm not quite sure how he ended up returning to Sullivan, Indiana three years later or how he happened to marry my grandmother, Verna Rich, in 1923. It is possible they had known each other from earlier days, although he was 9 years older than her. She was 29 at the time and living at home.

Or perhaps they met in conjunction with the events that resulted in the formulation of the Pilgrim Holiness Church in 1922. My grandmother and other grandparents had apparently been part of a parent group called the International Holiness Church. I don't know how my grandfather would switch from the Friends to this new church. Perhaps he had a sanctification experience or was becoming dissatisfied with the Friends. I don't know.

They would lose a baby, Dorothy Juanita, in 1924, the year my father was born. My mother would then be the first child to survive in '26. By that year Harry was pastoring a Pilgrim Holiness Church in Greenfield, Indiana. The following year, in '27 he would become part of the faculty of the newly formed Frankfort Pilgrim College, in Frankfort, Indiana. A camp meeting had met on those grounds since their dedication in August of 1913.

Pilgrim Holiness General Assembly at Frankfort, 1932

1 comment:

Ken Schenck said...

Some input from my mother. It seems that my grandfather was not pastoring in Hemlock in 1920 but living with his sister Margerite and brother-in-law who were pastoring the Quaker church there. He met my grandmother at the Pilgrim church in Sullivan.

Additionally, he was saved at a tent revival on the property of C. G. Taylor just north of Russiaville his junior year of Wabash College and dropped off the baseball team because they played games on Sunday.

My mother remembers seeing him baptized when she was little, maybe 4 years old, at Frankfort. having been a Quaker, he had never been baptized, so to lead in a Pilgrim baptismal service, he felt like he needed to be first.