Like many other people of European descent, born in this country, I can trace my ancestry back to their emigration from Europe; but being so far removed from European environment, my nationality can best be expressed by the short but comprehensive term, American.
My father was born in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. He was a descendant of the German Hessians who were brought to this country by the English to fight against the Americans in the Revolutionary War. It is said that from his mother's side he inherited a small portion of Turkish blood. Father's childhood days were spent near some of the Revolutionary battle-fields, where he played with cannon balls that had been used during that great struggle. Perhaps his early surroundings may have developed in him the spirit of partiotism that manifested itself later when, during the Civil War, he stood by his country and defended the stars and stripes.
My mother was born in Ohio near the Pennsylvania border, but was reared in Carroll County, Ohio.
Her father, whose name was Fleming, was of Scotch-Irish descent. His ancestors came from Ireland at an early day and settled first in Pennsylvania, and later in Ohio. When Mother's great-grandfather and his cousin came over from Ireland and landed in New York, they heard a parrot talking. It said, |A beggar and a clodhopper; a beggar and a clodhopper.| They had never heard of a parrot before. The great-grandfather said to his cousin, |Pat, Pat, what kind of a world have we got into? Aven the burds of the woods are making fun of us.|
My mother's mother was of German descent, and could speak the German language; but she died when mother was but a small child. Very soon afterward Mother's father married an Irish lady by the name of Margret Potter. Mother's stepmother took her drams, had dances, etc.; but Mother was spiritually inclined. In her eighteenth year while attending a Methodist meeting, she was convicted of her sins. She was not saved at the meeting, but prayed through by herself to an experience. God revealed himself to her in a marvelous way and gave her the witness that she was born of him.
Mother's father was a Universalist until after she was grown. At that time, although he had never professed a change of heart, he joined the Christian church. Mother's steady Christian character was, therefore, developed without human encouragement; she got help from no one but God. Her older sister said to her one day, |Rebecca, our dear mother died a Universalist; are you going to forsake her faith?| Mother answered, |If Mother did the best she knew, that is between her and her God; it is my duty to do the best I know.| Later this sister joined the Catholic Church and finally died in the Catholic home for widows.
I was born August 23, 1853, the seventh of a family of twelve children -- eight sons and four daughters. Two died before the last two were born, so that there were never more than ten of us living at the same time.
The oldest child was Jeremiah. Mother said that at his birth she gave him to the Lord, and prayed earnestly that God would make him like Jeremiah of old. God chose him for the ministry, and he died triumphant in the faith. He discerned the one body, the church, from the time the truth of the unity of God's people was first preached. His body lies in the cemetery near Hammond, Louisiana.
The second child was John. He enlisted in the army and gave his life for his country. Out of this family of twelve children, God chose three for the ministry: one of these has gone to his reward and the other two remain to work for the Master.
At the time of my birth, my parents lived on a farm adjoining the town of Decatur, in the State of Iowa. Later the town was enlarged until it included Father's farm, which was sold for town lots. My parents remained in Iowa until I was a year old, and then moved to Illinois, where they remained for two years. When I was three years old, they settled in Pettis County, Missouri, near the town of Belmont, afterwards called Windsor. It was there that I spent my childhood and the years of my young womanhood.