Family history illustrates that life repeats itself

Published 9:45 am Saturday, April 10, 2010

My great-grandfather, John Henry Linebaugh, was born and raised in Myersville, Md., where as a young man followed in his father’s profession as a farmer, but then attended Dickenson College in Carlisle, Pa., in his early manhood to pursue his dream to be a teacher. This dream was interrupted by the outbreak of the Civil War.

The story passed down is that John was a reporter during the war and unpopular in his version of journalism and his death had to be staged to save his life. Whether this is true or not, he did serve in the Civil War and he did leave his native state of Maryland after the war and moved to Ohio where he married my great- grandmother, Margaret Jane Patten. He taught school in Richmond, Ind., and walked home to Liberty, Ohio, on the weekends to be with his family.

After getting established, he built a home in Ellerton, Ohio, located a few miles south of Liberty. He became a justice of the peace, a wagon maker, a funeral director, a steam mill sawmill owner and operator and owned many farms in the area. He employed several workers and kept a daily journal of the daily events involving his business and life in general. I guess you could say that he was quite a entrepreneur in his time, but he had no success in collecting the debts owed him, so my great-grandmother would have to hitch up the buggy and go collect the debts, of course, for a percentage of the money collected as her pay. They raised a large family with many tragedies occurring during the times, but were a very close and hard-working family.

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At the age of 15, my grandmother, Margaret Catherine Linebaugh, better known as Kate, married her first husband, Raymond Astor, and had three children. (Yes, he is from the line of Astors that were fur traders and the Astor who was aboard the Titanic). Ray worked for Kate’s dad at the mill, but the marriage ended in divorce. (Ray was not a steady worker and tended to be the topic of conversation quite often in John Henry’s Journal). In 1910, Kate married my grandfather, Charles Beck, and three children were born to this marriage. But my grandmother’s new found happiness was cut short when my grandfather died at the age of 34 during the influenza epidemic of 1918, leaving her with six children to raise on her own. My grandmother never remarried, but she worked hard to raise her children and provide a good home life for them. She took in washing and ironing and was one of the best wall paper hangers in the area. Her life was not easy, but she was surrounded by her six children and their families and lived to the age of 80, always supporting herself and taking care of her family in the best way that she could, with a mother’s undying love and the strength that God gave her to make it through any crisis that she had to face.

My point from this story of my family is that life repeats itself. There have always been hardships in life, there have been wars, and there have been tragic situations that have changed how lives have been lived. My questions are: Have we learned from the past? Do we have the same strength of family to help us through hard times? Do we have the conviction to try new professions and strike out and be brave in our endeavors? Are we teaching our young people to learn more than one trade or profession so that when times get tough they have other resources to draw from? Do you remember saving your nickels and dimes to get something that you really wanted? In today’s world, we seem to want everything right now. Are we doing an injustice to our future generations by not teaching them the importance of saving and working for what they want in life?

I want to say thank you to the 51 people who participated in the March Goodness competition by donating to our building expansion project between March 15 and 30. We were not one of the top three, but we did raise a total of $1,910 toward the museum building expansion project. We appreciate your support.

Please mark your calendar for May 2 at 3 p.m. when we will have our Freeborn County Historical Society annual meeting and will share our plans and vision for this future endeavor.

Our Annual tour guide training will be held on Wednesday, April 14 at 2 p.m. in the lower level of the museum. Please call to register for training. Most of our school tours take place during the month of May.

The museum will host a four-hour AARP defensive driving class on Tuesday, April 20, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. The cost is $19 and you must register. Call or stop by the museum for details. Our regular hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

We are also busy this month with the Discover History program. The 11th-grade humanities students are busy doing their research to prepare to give their presentations to the area fifth-graders as they bring history to life.

Pat Mulso is the executive director of the Freeborn County Historical Museum in Albert Lea.