by Ward Gateley
Published December 2009, Distributed by Gateley Christian Educational Ministries
Ebenezer, Missouri is the name of the community in which I grew up. The one-room school I attended, grades two through eight, was Ebenezer School. One teacher taught children in eight grades. My teachers from grades two through eight were Nellie Noble (one year - grade 2), Mae Sanborn (three years grades - 3-6), and Briar Stokes (two years grade 7-8).
The Church that was a large part of our family life was the historic Ebenezer Methodist Church, first established in 1832. There were a succession of pastors, but the one I remember most was Reverend Clell Phipps. It was under his ministry that I professed Christ as my Savior.
Our family moved from Springfield to Ebenezer in the summer of 1931 when Dad took a job working for Ajax Pipe Line. The “Ajax Pump Station” was located one mile east of Ebenezer and bordered the Gateley farm where my dad was born and lived throughout his childhood.
I was six years old when we moved to Ebenezer. James, my brother, was a new baby, born May 1st of that year. He was born in our home in Springfield.
Before leaving Springfield, Dad sold our Springfield home, and his automobile repair shop, and bought a house and barn sitting on twelve and a half acres in the middle of Ebenezer. He paid $1000.00 for it. That was big money at that time. However, he and mother couldn’t take possession of the property for about a year.
The property had formally been the home, and office, of Dr. Fellows. Of course there was no electricity, nor indoor plumbing. Those things were added later. The house set on a graveled country road between the country store (on the east), and the school house (on the west).
During that first year, we rented a large two-story house just east of the Ebenezer Country Store. In July 1932, we moved into the purchased property.
In the “town” of Ebenezer there was a blacksmith shop and feed mill operated by Paul Stokes, a country store operated by Fernando and Lucy Anderson, the brick one room Ebenezer School, and the beautiful white Ebenezer Methodist Church. The church building was set among tall trees. It had a bell tower that rang forth each Sunday morning. And, there was a cluster of modest houses. These formed the rural community of Ebenezer, Missouri. Most of the families were good neighbors, and had been friends for many years.
Church and School Worked Together
In the days that I grew up, the school and church worked closely together. We had prayer in school. We pledged allegiance to the flag, always including “under God” in the pledge. The Ten Commandments could be posted, and the Bible read, in school.
Especially remembered are the Christmas plays, including the Nativity Scene, performed by the school children at the church. Following their performance, Santa distributed gifts from the tall twenty foot Christmas tree. Every boy and girl received some wrapped gift followed by an apple or an orange. This was always one of the "biggest,” “most enjoyable,” nights of the year.
Sundays were "special days" when I grew up in Ebenezer. "Chores" were always the first thing to be done. They were "first" seven days each week, 365 days per year. Growing up on a farm, the "chores" (taking care of the livestock) was always the first thing in the morning and the last thing of the evening. Cattle, horses, mules, sheep, hogs, chickens, dogs and cats had to be fed, cared for, and cows milked (by hand; no milking machines).
While we were doing morning chores, Mother would make our breakfast on the old wood burning cook stove; everything "made from scratch.” After finishing our chores, we washed our faces and hands, combed our hair, and "all" sat down at the table together, and enjoyed hot biscuits with milk gravy; or sometimes toast with some type of pork meat which we had raised and butchered: bacon, sausage, ham, pork-chops, pork loin. Or, the meat might be chicken, and at certain times of the year, quail or fish.
There was always honey in the comb on the table from our bee hives, coffee for adults, milk or water for the rest. On occasion we would have pan cakes, cream of wheat, hot oat meal, or mush (corn ground for hot cereal). At the meal table we talked to one another; really got acquainted. There were no distractions, no radio, and of course, no television or computers; no cell phones.
After breakfast on Sunday morning, the day was to be different from other days of the week. There would be no farm work done, no planting, cultivating, or harvesting. There would be no hunting or fishing, and Dad would not allow anyone else to hunt on our land on Sundays. Sundays were to be different; they were to be “special”.
After breakfast on Sunday morning, we helped Mother clear the table, wash dishes, and clean up and dress for Sunday School and Church. There was never a question, “Were we going?” It was Sunday. "We were going!" We dressed in our "Sunday clothes," and walked the short distance to the little Methodist Church.
Bordering the church property was the modest home of Uncle Earl and Aunt Lee Payne. Uncle Earl was my Grandmother Yoachum's older brother; therefore he was actually my mother’s uncle; my great-uncle. Uncle Earl had one child, a son, Oral, by his first wife. When she died an early natural death, Uncle Earl married Aunt Lee. She was a full blooded American Indian; Cherokee, I think. Uncle Earl and Aunt Lee had no children.
As we walked from our house to the church we would pass right by their house. They would sometimes be sitting on their front porch. We would invite them to join us in going to church, but they always said they could hear the service from their porch. There were two exceptions, on the holidays of Christmas and Easter they would go with us.
Almost all commercial stores were closed on Sundays, when I grew up.
A Few Memories of Ebenezer
Blacksmith & Feed Mill
While customers awaited farm implements to be repaired, or horses to be shod, or feed to be ground, men and older boys would pitch “horseshoes.” Stakes were measured and hammered in the ground, horseshoes were provided “free gratis” by the blacksmith, and the waiting customers could have a “big time.” Ringers, leaners, and closest to the peg were shouts of emotional enthusiasm. While awaiting their turn to play, customers exchanged tall tales. The shop was closed on Sundays.
The Country Store
Likewise, the Ebenezer Country Store was closed on Sunday. Of course, there was always someone that would go to the Anderson’s house across the road from the store, and ask them to make an exception and sell them some “medicine.” They would buy a small box of aspirin, or something like that. And, while they were at it, they would get a pack of cigarettes, or some pipe tobacco. Still, Sundays were “special.”
Ebenezer Social Life
There was always something to do. If the weather was good, we might play games outside; games like “Annie Over,” “Hide and Seek,” or “Dare Base.”
If the weather was less favorable, there were various card games, “Pitch,” “Rook,” “Old Maid,” “Hearts,” “Spades,” and there were many big games of “Pinochle” — always without gambling.
At other times we went hunting, worked large puzzles, read books, and there was always “music sessions:” — piano, guitar, violin (fiddle), mandolin, banjo, and lot and lots of singing.
I should tell you about one card game “aftermath.”
One Saturday night several neighbors gathered at our house for a pinochle “shoot out.” Two card tables were set up in the living room, four players (two sets of partners) per table. The winners at one table would play the winners at the other table to determine the winner overall.
We played and laughed and thoroughly enjoyed the evening. When finally finished, we were too tired to straighten up the room before going to bed. We thought, “Tomorrow is Sunday, we can sleep late and still have time to put up the folding tables, pinochle cards, remove the ashtrays and left over pop corn.”
But, Sunday morning we overslept. So, we left the “clean up” until after church time. Mother, James, Nancy, and I went to Sunday school and Church.
Dad usually went, but he didn’t go that morning. His back had been giving him problems. Mr. Atkins had left a bottle of home remedy tonic for him to rub on his back. Mr. Atkins had left the tonic in an old-whiskey bottle. That Sunday morning Dad had applied the tonic to his back, sat down in the old Gateley rocking chair (which we still have), smoked his pipe, and listened to the radio.
We had a new preacher at Church that Sunday. We found, after getting to church, no one had prepared to feed the preacher. So mother, forgetting for a moment her house situation, invited the new preacher to our house for the noon meal. We all arrived at the same time and mother opened the front door and ushered the new preacher into our living room. Alas, there was the two card tables set up with two decks of pinochle cards, ash trays, pop corn, the smell of tonic in the air, and Dad, unshaven, sitting in a rocking chair dressed very casually, with a whiskey bottle half full of something within an easy arms reach. It was quite a suggestive sight!
Mother had some explanations to make to the new preacher. Dad got a big laugh out of it, and I think God did too!
Earl Smith’s Hound Dog
Earl Smith was a 6 foot 230 pound man. He contracted stucco construction work. He traveled mostly in a jeep car and a frequent companion was his faithful large hound dog.
The bench seat in the jeep would have Earl seated in the driver’s seat, and the hound dog seated next to him facing the windshield with long ears flying in the wind.
From behind, or a side view, it was hard to distinguish “who was who.” You hoped Earl was doing the driving. The “hound dog” looked as though it belonged there. They made quite a sight as they drove about through Ebenezer.
Earl’s “Wild Man”
The Earl Smith home consisted of Earl “Lefty,” he played a few seasons of minor league professional baseball as a pitcher, wife Dorothy; children Lilburn, Coleen, and Marlene. It was the only house on the corner crossroads of W.W. and Grant Street roads. Across the road from the Smith home was a 20 or 30 acre field of large timberland and at the edge of the timber was 100 yards or more of 10 to 12 foot high sprouts filled with leaves.
One day Earl looked across the road and saw an alarmingly strange sight. He immediately phoned the sheriff’s Department. They quickly dispatched deputies to investigate and make arrests if needed.
What they found was Ed Dillard, one of Earl Smith’s closest neighbors, chasing a cow that had gotten in the wrong field. As Ed chased the cow he lost his hat, and his long disheveled full head of solid white hair was filled with leaves and was flowing in the wind.
To Earl, Ed did look like a “wild man.” To Ed, Earl’s next door neighbor already “put out” by the errant cow, he wasn’t much amused.
Joe Louis/Max Schmeling By Radio
During the 1930’s electricity began coming to the homes in and around Ebenezer. It was also the time of the Great Depression. Money was scarce. Farm labor was $1.00 per day plus the noon meal, when you could find it. Gradually, although very slowly, one at a time, houses would be wired for electricity. Finally, a 40 or 60 watt electric light bulb began replacing the old kerosene burning wicker lamps.
Little by little other electric “new fangled” things would be added; refrigerators to replace the old ice boxes; toasters, victrolas to play the old 78 speed large hard records, electric stoves, or at least hot plates, to replace the wood or coal burning cook stoves. There would be a multitude of new things “when” they could be afforded. The complete transition would take a number of years.
During most of this time, radios remained battery powered, and batteries were short lived and expensive. So, on the nights of the great fights, there were two involving Joe Louis, the Brown Bomber, and the German Max Schmeling; the men of Ebenezer would gather at Fernando Anderson’s Ebenezer Country Store to “hear the fight together.” Fernando had a good radio in the store, and it was certain he would have it tuned to the fight broadcast. This was a good business night for the Country Store.
The Ebenezer men would gather early, drink soda pop, munch crackers and maybe some cheese, tell yarns, chew or smoke tobacco, and thoroughly enjoy “socializing.” It was at one such fight night that Earl Smith was telling a tale and enthusiastically demonstrated some point by slapping Mr. Adkins on the back and knocking him to the floor. Mr. Adkins was a rather frail man, maybe 130 pounds, while Earl would scale 230 pounds or more. Mr. Adkins got up off the floor, dusted himself off, and headed for the door saying, “I believe I’ll go home before I get knocked down again.” He was grinning, and all others were laughing and enjoying the happening; everything was in good fun.
The second Joe Louis/Max Scheming fight, June 22, 1938, was of special interest. It was not because of the color of Joe Louis’ skin. Joe’s father was predominately African American with some white ancestry; his mother was half Cherokee. It was because Max Schmeling was a German, and it was in the days of Hitler and Nazism.
All of the men at Ebenezer were strong supporters of Joe Louis, the Brown Bomber. After all, he was the 7th of 8 children, born near La Fayette, Alabama. Max Schmeling, on the other hand, was born in Germany and was heralded by Hitler as part of the “Superior” race of people that could not be defeated.
That night the men of Ebenezer were very proud of Joe Louis for knocking out Max Schmeling in the first round of a scheduled 15 round fight. The fight actually lasted two minutes and four seconds…Max Schmeling ended up in the hospital, and the Nazi Political Party took a beating that night because of that fight.
Joe Louis was the Heavyweight Champion of the World from 1937 to 1949. He held the title for 140 consecutive months, and successfully defended the world heavyweight title 25 times, both records to this day.(Dec 2009)
What isn’t so widely known is that Joe Louis and Max Schmeling became life long friends. Schmeling spoke out against Nazism, and at Joe Louis’ funeral, April 12, 1961, Max Schmeling was one of the pallbearers.
Charlie Rable lived alone in a modest well maintained house two doors east of the Ebenezer Country Store. His parents migrated legally to this country from Germany. Charlie, and I think he had one sister, but I’m not at all sure about that, were born in this country. However, German was the language spoken regularly in the home. There are three things I will note about Charlie Rable:
(1) He was always trying to find someone, anyone, to talk to in the German language. When a young couple, Garrett and Tina Boerma, came to this country from Holland to work on the McConnell Dairy Farm in Ebenezer, Charlie thought he had it made; Charlie thought he and the young couple from Holland could converse in German. What a disappointment when Charlie couldn’t understand a word of their Dutch language and they couldn't understand his German.
(2) Charlie grew his own tobacco in his garden, processed it, and rolled it into cigarettes. The young boys used to go to Charlie, thinking he wouldn’t go to their Dads about what they were doing, and beg Charlie into letting them smoke some of his cigarettes. Charlie would let them smoke some of his “strongest” tobacco. He would laugh as they coughed, choked, got dizzy, and turned pale green. Charlie hoped to dissuade the young boys from their desire of using tobacco.
(3) The young boys like to play tricks on Charlie, especially at Halloween time. The chief trick was turning Charlie’s outhouse over. One Halloween, Charlie decided to go set in the outhouse and “catch the boys” when they came to turn his outhouse over. All went well except Charlie fell asleep in the outhouse. The young boys wanted to do their thing quietly and quickly.
They came, not knowing Charlie was asleep inside, and turned the outhouse over on the outside door. Now Charlie was trapped inside. He was awake, but couldn't get out. So he yelled!
When the young boys saw what they had done, they came back and righted the outhouse, and let Charlie out. In the end everyone got a big laugh out of that Halloween caper, and it was “not” repeated.
Speaking of “Outhouses” and “Memories,” how many of you can actually remember the “feeling” of waking up about 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, temperature in the bedroom 32 degrees (freezing); temperature outside the house and all the 300 yards to the outhouse “zero;” and, you “have to make the trip,” alone. The feeling is “AWESOME!” And, in the summertime, think of spiders, wasps, snakes. “Something in that outhouse is “going to get to you!” These are “not” memories of “the good old days.”
Arthur Corbin had a small cabin on the “lost ten acres” on the outskirts of Ebenezer. It was a “lost ten acres” meaning you couldn’t get to it without crossing someone else’s property.
Arthur raised his family there. I’m not sure how many children Arthur and Mrs. Corbin had; two or three, I think. Arthur never owned a car. He never rode a horse, or mule, or donkey to go places. Whenever Arthur wanted to go anywhere, he walked. Arthur was a good walker.
However, he would sometimes walk from his cabin to the Ebenezer Country Store for a loaf of bread, or a pound of coffee, and he might be gone a day, or maybe two days, or even three. Arthur liked to socialize; to visit. Arthur was likable. He was most always in a good mood; upbeat, positive in attitude. He could talk on most any subject, and always had time to visit. If night approached and he needed a place to sleep, Arthur would just “borrow” a place to sleep in someone’s barn-loft.
It was on one such “grocery journey” that Arthur told of the “whip-snake” he faced on his ten acre spread. He was walking one day through tall shoulder high grass when a whip-snake raised up out of the grass head high and looked him right in the eye. Now I have never seen a whip-snake, or at least not to my knowledge. I used to hear about whip-snakes when I grew up. Sometimes they were called “coach-whip snakes.” I saw lots of other kinds of snakes, but no “whip-snakes.”
However, Arthur was sure this was a “whip-snake” that looked him in the eyes that day; mid-day, sun shining. No doubt about it!
How big was the snake? Well, Arthur couldn’t be sure, but there were wagon tracks, and the snake laid out flat crossed both tracks and disappeared into the tall gras on either side. It was a “big snake;” a “big whip-snake.”
The grocery man asked, “Arthur, what did you do when that snake raised up out of the tall grass and looked you in the eye?” Arthur said, “I just took my hand and slapped it real hard right along side of its head. I just knocked the daylights out of that snake, and it got out of my way and I never saw it again.”
That was the tale of the “whip-snake.”
I have a picture of an earlier Ebenezer Baseball team, amateur of course, but I can’t find it to put in this writing. The team I remember during my growing up days was in the early 1940’s and our home games were played on the diamond we made in the pasture land behind Gord Mullins’ home. The land was pretty flat. Left field ran up-hill a little bit, but not too bad. There was plenty of parking space for the spectators; they brought their own chairs.
“Little Paul” Stokes was our pitcher. He was good. He was called “Little Paul,” not because of his size, but because his Dad was named “Paul” and they didn’t want him called “Junior,” so they called hime “Little Paul.”
Junior Hinds was the catcher. He was smaller in size, and some of “Little Paul’s” fast balls would almost lift Junior Hinds off his feet. But, he was a good catcher.
Jim Mullins was the first baseman. He was left-handed, which made him a natural to play first base, and a good hitter. However, he was also the first young man from Ebenezer to be drafted into the Armed Forces when the United States entered World War 2 in 1941.
When Jim had to leave to go into the Army, I took his place at first base on the Ebenezer Baseball team. It was a great experience. I won’t bore you with lots of tales, just one.
We played one game on a professional baseball diamond. It was played at night, professionally lighted, at White City Baseball Park in Springfield. I don’t remember who we played, amateur of course, but they had a tall lank hard throwing left-handed pitcher. I always threw a ball right-handed, but batted left-handed; and I hated batting against left-handed hard throwers. It always seemed they were throwing from behind my back.
When I came to bat the first time, left-handed, the outfielders on the other team moved way around to the right, expecting me to be a right field pull hitter. Well, I was real nervous, and scared, of the hard throwing left-handed pitcher, and I swung late. The batted ball went right down the left field line all the way to the wall. I was not a fast runner, but I got a triple out of that time at bat. I think it was the only triple I had all season.
Remembering a Pie Supper
The year was 1929 or maybe 1930. Earl Noble was dating my Aunt Lydia, my Dad’s sister. Earl and Aunt Lydia took me to a pie supper at the Ebenezer School. Earl drove a Model A Ford car. It was winter time and the weather was cold. There was snow and ice on the ground. Cars didn’t have heaters then.
I was bundled up with a heavy coat, and sat between Earl and Aunt Lydia. The cold outside wind whistled up through the cracks in the floorboard of the Model A. It was good there was only one mile to travel on the gravel road to the Ebenezer School. The school building was filled with people, and it was nice and warm.
Pie suppers were “special events” when I grew up. The ladies would bake a pie, and bring it to the school wrapped so it could not be seen, and turn it in to the school to be auctioned.
Supposedly no one knew whose pie was being auctioned, but in reality “all” of the men, and especially the teen age boys, “always knew” exactly which girl’s pie was being auctioned. Then, the highest bidder got to sit and eat the pie with the girl that baked it. That was “big stuff,” and the bidding was highly competitive. Of course Earl Noble was high bidder for my Aunt Lydia’s pie, and the three of us got to enjoy eating it. I don’t remember how much Earl had to bid, probably two or three dollars. And, I don’t remember what kind of pie Aunt Lydia brought, but it was an enjoyable evening.
All the proceeds of the “pie supper" went for the benefit of the school.
In the years that followed, I attended many “pie suppers.” In later years, instead of just attending, I joined Jesse Craig, Ralph and Clay Leeson in entertaining with music. At one pie supper I actually did the auctioning.
It was at a “pie supper” that my young brother, James “Jimmy” Gateley, first played his violin, or “fiddle.” He was five years old at the time, I believe. He went on to become a professional musician, traveled many places in the world, had many recordings, and he, with his son, Robert, wrote and recorded a very special Gospel record.
Sleeping at Grandpa Payne’s House
My Great-Granddad and Great Grandmother on my mother’s side of the family, John Thomas Payne and Emily Jane Reed Payne, lived on a farm just over a mile north of the Ebenezer cross roads. They had a large two-story frame house, and raised a family of six girls and two boys.
All the children had married and moved away.
Travel was much slower in those days. It was a rare, and special, occasion when several of the children, with their families, would get together at the home place. Usually, when they did get together, it would be on a weekend and they would stay overnight.
The last such gathering I remember was in a winter time. The grand children had romped and played and enjoyed the day. By nighttime they could hardly stay awake long enough for their mothers to wash and prepare them for bed.
The bedrooms were cold. There was no central heat, so we slept on “featherbed” mattresses with warm quilts on top. I remember Aunt Julia put her son, Clay Whitlock, on one side of our bed; Aunt Mable put her daughter, Iris Cox, in the middle; and mother put me on the other side of the bed.
Clay and I were probably three years old, Iris a couple or more years older. We were all worn out from the day’s activities; we were only half awake when put in the bed. I remember hearing Aunt Edna, whispering, questioning Aunt Julia, Aunt Mable, and mother, as to whether we three should be sleeping together? I remember thinking, “Why shouldn’t we sleep together? We three “always” slept together at Grandpa Payne’s house.”
Then I just decided it was another one of those “adult” problems, and the adults would have to settle their own problems. So I snuggled up in the warm bed and went to sleep.
Emily Jane Reed Payne
Let me tell one more thing about Great-Grandpa and Great Grandmother Payne. Great-Grandpa was a man of strong convictions. I have two or three of the books he bought and read; books of sermons on moral issues of that day. Great Grandpa was not only a “prohibitionist,” against the use of alcohol in any form, he would allow no drink to be served at any meal in his house that wasn’t “fully natural.” He allowed milk or water, but he would not allow coffee, or tea, or anything “man made,” or “man put-together.”
The “one exception” was Great-Grandmother’s breakfast beverage.
Great Grandmother, Emily Jane, “had to have” her breakfast coffee! No one could stop it, not even “strong willed” Great Grandpa. No one else had it, but Great Grandmother had it.
It was strong. It was more like “chicory” than coffee. And, once in a while when Great-Grandpa was away from the table for some reason, if a grandchild was seated beside her, Great-Grandmother Emily Jane would let them “sample” a teaspoon full of her breakfast beverage.
Her grandchildren, and great grandchildren, liked “sitting next to great grandmother Emily Jane.”
One beautiful summer day Paul Hinds, Clyde Hinds, Venton Ray Anderson, and I decided we would go swimming. There was one spot in a stream of water over near Crystal Cave that was ideal. It was just around the bend in the road so that it was out of sight of anyone traveling by car, was away from the Cave entrance, and there was no reason for anyone going there expect to swim. There was one sizable place in the stream where the water was just the right depth.
We grabbed our swim trunks and took out for the swimming hole.
The sun was shinning, the weather was warm, and it was a “great day.” We were playing and swimming, and diving off the bank of the stream. Then, what do you know, here came the Atkin boys, Harris Erby, and George walking along the stream enjoying the day.
We yelled for them to join us in the swimming hole. They said they didn’t have their swim trunks with them. So, we said, “Come in skinny-dipping’.” They didn’t want to with us having on our swim trunks. So, we said, we will take our trunks off and all of us “skinny dip.” They said, “O.K.”, and that is what we did.
Everyone swam without swim trunks; just bare naked. We thought nothing about it, and had great fun playing “King of the Mountain;” pushing everyone into the water. Whoever was left, as the last one standing out of the water, was “King.”
We had been playing and enjoying ourselves for about half an hour, when suddenly we saw a man coming around he bend of the stream leading to the road, waving his arms wildly and yelling. As he got nearer, we saw he had a gun, a pistol, in one hand. He was pointing it in the general direction of us.
When he got close enough for us to understand what he was yelling, we heard him berating us for “showing ourselves” before his wife; who, he said, was sitting under a tree, supposedly reading a book, a short distance from where we were. We looked in the direction he pointed. Sure enough, there was a woman sitting under a tree with a book in her hand, looking at us. It was the first time we had seen her. We sure didn’t know she was there. We didn’t know where she came from, or when she got there.
But, I will tell you, with that gun waving at us, and a frenzied husband yelling all kinds of things at us, we didn’t question anything or anybody. We got our skinny dippin’ bare bottoms clothed, and out of there, faster than you would think possible. We left that swimming hole to the woman, her book, and her “wild-husband with a gun.”
That’s the last time I remember “Going skinny-dipping’.”
More About the Ebenezer Church
The Ebenezer Methodist Church has a basement, partly below ground. I remember the Church when it did not have a basement. A widow in the community died and left a money gift to the church. The church had the building “jacked up,” and the basement put under the church building. The church building was then lowered back down onto the inserted basement.
The basement was used for many things, Sunday School classes, Vacation Bible School, ladies auxiliary meetings, young people meetings, singings, social gatherings of various types. The basement has been a blessing.
I remember in 1982, Ebenezer Methodist Church celebrated its 150th anniversary. There were special services in the Church building, special music and a program outside on a platform erected for the occasion. A “Circuit Riding Preacher,” dressed in a Prince Albert split tail coat and large brimmed hat, came riding a Morgan-horse around the turn in the road leading onto the Church grounds. There was a large crowd in attendance that day. It was a most impressive time.
Now, in the year 2009, we understand a new parking lot has been cleared with new entrances to both front and back of the church building being constructed. And, walkways to accommodate both parking lots and building entrances are being built.
The Church is to be congratulated for the care and maintenance it provides, and especially for the spiritual message of salvation by grace through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ which it continues to send forth.
Just think, the Ebenezer Methodist Church is now in its 177th year, and the message it was established to proclaim has not changed! When I was a boy we sang in the church about a “solid foundation.” Jesus Christ is that solid foundation. The Ebenezer Methodist Church is still proclaiming it.
“God so loved the world hat He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
“The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1
THANK THE LORD the Ebenezer Methodist Church continues proclaiming that Gospel message!
The Name “Ebenezer”
I do not know how Ebenezer, Missouri got its name, or who named it. I wish I did know.
Whoever gave the community the name “Ebenezer” must have known the Biblical story of Samuel and the Israelites. The word “Ebenezer” is found three times in the Bible; 1st Samuel 4:1, 5:1, 7:12. The word “Ebenezer” means “the Stone of Help.”
In the days of Samuel when the Philistines came against Israel to battle, the Lord intervened with “loud thundering” enabling Israel to defeat the Philistines.
“Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” First Samuel 7:12.
Thus Samuel set up a stone memorial and called the place “Ebenezer,” (the Stone of Help). And so, the earliest settlers of Ebenezer, Missouri knowing the Biblical story, named this community appropriately for it has been and still is today, a place where the LORD has helped many people throughout the years, including me.
Through this toilsome world, alas!
Once, and only once, I pass;
If a kindness I may show,
If a good deed I may do
To a suffering fellow man;
Let me do it while I can,
No delay, for it is plain
I shall not pass this sway again.
*In our barn, in the room used as a corn crib, there was a large “slate board;” hanging on one wall. It had been placed there “before” the wall had become a part of the barn, when it had been a part of a college classroom. The college had been moved to Morrisville, Missouri.
*At once time there was a “tomato canning plant” just north of the Grant Street road/Ebenezer road crossroads.
*There was a time when the folks in Ebenezer said that Springfield could never amount to much because it was too close to Ebenezer. Then the Frisco railroad chose to go through Springfield and build their railroad shops, and we see the results.
*For years, there was a landmark at the intersection of Highway 13 and state road WW, a large “round barn.”
My father, Henry Ward Gateley, was born April 13, 1894. He was raised one mile east of Ebenezer on the Gateley farm (approximately 300 acres).
In that day, farm boys stated to school late, after the harvest of crops was completed, usually after Thanksgiving. And, they stopped school for the planting of crops, usually in early March. My Dad completed grades one through six at Ebenezer School.
My Dad was a well educated man. Mostly self-educated, he could figure in his head faster than I could figure with pen and paper, board fee of lumber needed for construction of a building, and the various sizes of the lumber needed.
Moreover he was a self-educated mechanic and business man, operating his own automobile repair shop, and working on the big machinery of Ajax Pipe Line for many years.
I have a “hand held slate” my Dad used in his school work at Ebenezer School.
As I grew up in Ebenezer, we had one very favorite horse, “Ol’ Dutch.” She was used as part of a team for working the farm, she was a gentle and dependable riding horse for me, and she had been the horse Dad used when courting my Mother. In her last few years, Dad “put her out to pasture,” that is, Ol’ Dutch went on retirement — no work, no riding, just special grooming, special care, special food.
When Ol’ Dutch died, Dad buried her near a wooded area at the back of the pasture behind the barn. That is also the place Ol’ Tom, the Pointer Bird Dog our family loved so much, is buried.
Now, when we visit that place, in memory if not in person, we are comforted in know God’s provision in caring for out pets.
Our Pets in the Hereafter
In Revelation 5 we are shown a future view of those praising God.
In Revelation 5:6 we are shown those “singing a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for Thou was slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood; out of every kindred and tongue, and people, and nation.” (Those pictured singing are people.)
Revelation 5:11, “And I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne…The num er of them was ten thousand times ten thousand.” (Those pictured are angels.)
Revelation 5:13, “And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth; and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sits upon the throne and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”(Those pictured are “all other living creatures.” That will include all of our pets.)
I expect to see again, Ol’ Dutch, Ol’ Tom, and many other animals and pets.
*When I was in the Navy in World War 2, 1943-1946, some of the other sailors asked what I did before joining the Navy. I always said, “Before joining the Navy, I was “Mayor of Ebenezer.”
Copyrighted December 2009
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Gateley Christian Educational Ministries
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Huntsville, Alabama 35815