Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How my 10X Great Grandfather spent another Revolution

We are deep in the midst of the formulation of a new generation of Nightlife. Although this Empire exists only in the minds and hearts of it's patrons, it is no less real to some than a vast country, and worth sacrificing for. My Great Grandfather 10 times removed, Timothy Johnes D.D. was a Pastor in Morristown, NJ during the War of Independence. George Washington was part of his congregation and even used his home as a headquarters during the War.

"Sunday was the great day of the week.. Good Pastor

Johnes, of the First Presbyterian Church, could see his

congregation coming through the forest from the neigh-

boring farms, not riding in wagons, but (if the distance

was too great to walk) on horseback, the wife behind her

husband on the pillion, while the children managed to

cling on them as best they could. The women were

clothed in homespun, from the fruits of that industry

which has given the name of " spinster " to the unmar-

ried daughters of the family, showing their constant oc-

cupation. In the winter they brought their footstoves,

filled with live coals, to put under their feet during ser-

vice, while the men disdained such an approach to ef-

feminacy. If there was an evening service each family

brought one or two candles, and persons sat holding

them during the meeting; for even candlesticks on the

walls and pillars were not then provided. But though

the men could bravely sit with cold feet in the winter,

they did not hesitate to take off their coats in the heat of

summer, and if sleep seemed likely to overpower them

they would stand up and thus remain until the inclination

to drowsiness had passed. The men sat together upon

one side of the house, and the women and children upon

the other side, separated from each other by the broad

aisle. The young people occupied the galleries, the

young men and boys upon one side of the church, the young

ladies and girls upon the other. This necessitated the

appointment of certain men of grave and staid aspect to

sit m the galleries to preserve order."

They did not have easy lives AT ALL- they were building a country. They suffered from heat, cold and overwork, just as Jason and I are suffering now in our apt in Bushwick. Think about how they felt as they sat in church with only a lighted candle for heat. There was no guarantee that the War would be won, and nobody had enough food or provisions, not even George Washington:

"There was some-

times scarcity at the headquarters as well as in the camp,

as the following anecdote will show: '' We have nothing

but the rations to cook, sir," said Mrs. Thompson, a very

worthy Irishwoman, and housekeeper, to General Wash-

ington. " Well, Mrs. Thompson, you must cook the ra-

tions, for I have not a farthing to give you." " If you

please, sir, let one of the gentlemen give me an order for

six bushels of salt." "Six bushels of salt; for what?"

" To preserve the fresh beef, sir." One of the aids gave

the order, and next day his excellency's table was amply

provided. Mrs. Thompson was sent for, and told she had

done very wrong to expend her own money, for it was

not known when she could be repaid. " I owe you,"

said his excellency, " too much already to permit the

debt being increased, and our situation is not such as to

induce very sanguine hope." " Dear sir," said the good

old lady, " it is always darkest just before daylight, and

I hope your excellency will forgive me for bartering salt

for the other necessaries now on the table." Salt was

eight dollars a bushel and could always be exchanged

with the country people for articles of provision."

The Church had to be used as a makeshift hospital, so they gathered for worship services in an orchard in the back yard of the church:

"As the army left here in May 1777 we may infer from

this last minute that the church was retained as a hospital

for those incapacited by sickness from the severities of

active warfare. If this be so the pastor and people were

obliged for a year and a half to worship, as we know

they did a part of the time, in the open air."

My Great X10 Grandfather realized that differences between factions did not matter in the eyes of his God, and therefore allowed people of all creeds to his services, famously stating "All who love the Lord are Welcome", just as Jason has welcomed all representatives of the various groups of the Goth/Industrial scene to parttake in ABSOLUTION.

"It is not to be wondered at that under all these depress-

ing circumstances the troubled heart of Washington

turned for support and comfort to the God of all strength,

to the God of nations and of battles. We are not sur-

prised, therefore, that as the time of the communion

drew near, which was then observed semi-annually,

Washington sought good Pastor Johnes, and inquired

of him if membership with the Presbyterian church was

required "as a term of admission to the ordinance."

The doctor's reply was, "Ours is npt the Presbyterian

table, but the Lord's table, and we hence give the Lord's

invitation to all his followers, of whatever name." This

pleased and satisfied the general, and on the coming Sab-

bath, in the cold air, he was present with the congrega-

tion assembled in the orchard in the rear of the parson-

age, the house now occupied by Mrs. Eugene Ayers, on

Morris street; and in the natural basin still found there

he sat down at the table of the Lord, and in the remem-

brance of redeeming love obtained no doubt relief from

the scenes that appalled and the cares that oppressed him.

The common opinion is that the Lord's Supper was ad-

ministered in the church. This is so stated in Sparks's

life of Washington and by other writers, but the true

version is as already given. The church was occupied

by invalid troops till the close of the year 1777, if not till

some time in 1778, as the records of the trustees show.

This was the only time after his entrance upon his public

career that Washington is certainly known to have par-

taken of the Lord's Supper.

(For the proof of this interesting historical incidenl

the reader is referred to The Record ior ]m\t a.x\A Kn-

gust 1880.)

Washington was a frequent attendant upon these open-

air meetings. On one of these occasions, according to

an account handed down by Doctor Johnes, Washington

was sitting in his camp chair, brought in for the occasion.

During the service a woman came into the congregation

with a child in her arms; Washington arose from his

chair and gave it to the woman with the child. "

Times of building(or in this case, rebuilding) are accompanied by great hardship, and this time period is no exception. I sometimes think the forefathers and foremothers had an easier time, for they had a great tabula rasa(empty slate) on which to write, while we must write over the grooves of the past.

Taken from History of Morris County, New Jersey

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