July 30, 2013

With heart and soul aglow

While speaking with my mother yesterday she mentioned that Sunday was my great-grandfather's 160th birthday.  Perhaps it was because I had just steeped myself in the Civil War era at Gettysburg in May and then again over the weekend in Galena but I couldn't stop thinking about him last night.  My mother remembers him fondly, as he made his home with my grandparents after his wife passed away.  Mother reminisced that he thought the world of my grandmother (his daughter-in-law), who gave him the space he needed to feel part of her family but still independent.  He was her second set of hands out on the farm when a child fell sick in the night, or several were sick at once, or the young ones needed a watchful eye outside while Grandmother was cooking dinner.  I know it is easy to romanticize the past and only focus on the good parts, but I love to hear the stories of days long past and how my family cared for each other.
Ozro with my two uncles
Ozro Prindle was born July 28, 1853, and married Mary Belle on March 9, 1875.  From the book of poems that Mary Belle wrote in honor of her family, she must have had a gentle heart filled with love and pride for her family, but I have to admit...this picture of her always scared me silly.  It hung in my grandparents' bedroom and I always felt her eyes follow me across the room.  In the evenings I would walk all the way around the house in order to avoid going through the bedroom and encountering her stern visage!
Part of a poem that Mary Belle wrote in celebration of her thirty-sixth anniversary to Ozro included these lines.  Good advice then, and still good advice now!

Our path has not all been sunshine
Clouds have o'er shadowed our lives
But he has been a good husband
And I tried to be a good wife

Many times I've been tempted
When things were seemingly wrong
To hastily speak my opinion
but I stopped and held my tongue.

They had a large family.  My grandfather is the handsome young man on the far right.  How long do you think it took the girls to style their hair?  I love their blouses!
Here are two more verses from the poem above.  I must confess to wondering the same thing sometimes!

Sometimes I silently wonder
If our living had bettered the world
We have done so little to help it
Then I thought of our boys and girls

And hope, truly hope, they will do
The things we would like to have done
And when their life work is ended
They too will be gathered home.

I had never seen this photo until just a couple of weeks ago.  Isn't it great?  Evidently they are both holding brooms, but to me it looks like they are early National Geographic explorers, setting out on an adventure with walking sticks at the ready!
Here's my very favorite photograph of him, taken late in life.  He was an upright man, who strove to do good and honor his God.  He gave the last prayer in his country church in Indiana and the very first prayer in the new church, which is the church I attended as a little girl.  Many tell this story about him...a man came to church inebriated and the pastor chastised him, asking him if he didn't want to mend his ways in order to enter Heaven.  The man replied that to the best of his knowledge the only people he knew for sure were going to Heaven were little children and Ozro.  I am proud to be his great granddaughter.
The final stanza of Mary Belle's anniversary poem reads:

So father let us be faithful
Unto the end of life
Then Heaven's benediction
Will rest on man and wife.

Happy 160th birthday, Great Grandfather Ozro!  And in honor of your special day, here is a poem written by your wife in 1912 to commemorate your birthday.

In eighteen and fifty three
According to the date
Ozro was born
In Ohio state.

They moved to Indiana
In eighteen and sixty two
And have lived here ever since
They though it best to do.

Here he grew to manhood
And here he found his mate
Here he reared his children
To man and womanhood's estate.

Now he is nearing three score years
With heart and soul aglow
For Heaven and immortal life
Where ere long he hopes to go.

(signed) Companion


  1. What a great post! I am curious though -- who is the girl whose photo is imbedded in the family photo? Was she a daughter who died young and this was their way of including her in the family portrait?

  2. Thanks, Robin! Yes, the young girl is their daughter Bertha Amy, who passed away at age 14 in 1892. Part of her mother's poem reads "O my beloved one, How long did I lament, When through the grave and gate of death Out of this world you went." A mother's poignant and heart filled grief.