Surviving the threat of catastrophe


(Part Four:)
Of all the stories passed down from grandfathers, one attribute of our ancestor, Samuel, that stands out is this: he worked incredibly hard to build a legacy in the land and buildings that would stand the test of time, and provide family yet to come a blueprint for building a successful life.

“Samuel was considered one of the best farmers around and was known for his good livestock. He had quite a nice herd of Shopshire sheep, Jersey cattle and hogs and usually six milk cows. Everything he had he wanted to be the best.

He had six work horses and one riding horse. He used walking plows and he would never ride. Everything they did they walked. Samuel usually had a hired man who worked during the winter for just his room and board and they paid him wages in the summer,” Miriam Young Slabaugh writes in the Young family history.

Breaking in

One particular story reflects the downside of having such a lovely home: in the late 1880s, the family was awakened to the sounds of a gang trying to break in to a ‘false window’ that was shuttered. Samuel woke his sons, and they had shotguns aimed toward the commotion.

Elizabeth, it is said, left off a “scream that could be heard all over the state of Ohio” and scared the robbers off.

The gang then went two doors up to another prosperous looking Victorian home and robbed Mr. Zimmerman.

This neighbor came face-to-face with the robbers and complained that they were taking all of his money.

“Just be glad that it wasn’t your life. I could easily have shot you!”

The Zimmerman family felt certain these words were spoken by Jesse James. Samuel’s grandfather had fought in the Revolutionary War, and Samuel served as a civilian worker during the Civil War.

His love of country, respect for the land, his generosity to family, community and church were all quite evident.
Great hospitality.

In photographs, he strikes me as a rather tall, handsome, imposing man. He built a home large enough to welcome all, and along with his petite wife, Elizabeth, it was a place known for great hospitality.

Samuel’s oldest son, Herbert, married and bought a farm made up of fertile black muck ground several miles north of the home place, perfect for growing celery and other produce. He built a gasoline-powered rip saw to cut stakes to be placed by each celery plant.

Major catastrophe

In the fall of 1913, with two of his young sons watching, Herbert pushed a block of wood across the table to the rip saw and it was thrown back in to his face.

The young boy who would become my grandfather ran for help. Herbert was knocked unconscious, his left eye gone, his jaw and facial bones badly broken.

Samuel received word of this accident while visiting his other son, George. Samuel took off running, jumping fences, to get to his injured son.

Three nurses were hired by Samuel to care for his unconscious son around the clock.

As days ticked by, doctors advised the family no one could survive after this long in a deep coma. The daily gathering, with hope waning, was wearing heavily on this close family.

(Next week: misfortune comes in a set of three.)

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