Tuesday, March 30, 2010


An estimated 3,500 people came from all over the United States for the Esh family funeral after three generations of family members where killed in an accident on I-65 on Friday.  John and Sadie Esh were killed along with their four children; Anna, Rose, Rachel and Leroy.  Leroy's wife Naomi was also killed along with one of their three adopted sons, Jalen, who was 2-months-old.  Their other two sons, ages 3 and 5, survived the crash and are being cared for by other family members.   Rachel's fiancé Joel Gingrich also died along with a family friend, Ashley Kramer.  On Monday in Franklin, KY nearly 600 people gathered to remember her.  The truck driver, Kenneth Laymon, who was also killed in the crash will be laid to rest Wednesday in his hometown in Alabama.  His sister said he was an experienced and careful driver.  Officials still don't know why his semi crossed over the median. Bill Miller, a member of the Marrowbone Christian Brotherhood Church, said this was planned by God for a reason and that Church members accept that reason and move on.

- Associated Press -


About two-thousand people are expected in the tiny town of Marrowbone today to remember nine people killed on I-65 Friday, when a semi lost control and slammed into their van. On Monday evening, folks lined the lot of the old Carhartt building by the hundreds to pay their respects to the Esh family and Joel Gingerich. Church members from the Marrowbone Christian Brotherhood say some from their Mennonite community traveled from as far away as Pennsylvania and Montana. It was an endless flow of visitors from family members to friends, all paying their respects to nine lives lost.
If you would like to help with funeral expenses, friends and family are asking you to mail donations to: The Esh and Gingerich Funeral Expense Fund, P.O. Box 337, Burkesville, Kentucky 42717.

Visit eshfund.org

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Community In Mourning...

The community of nearly 100 Mennonites in and around Marrowbone is grieving the loss of one of its most well-known and respected families.  The Mennonites aren't the only ones grieving.  So are the rest of us.  I don't know when we have had a worse tragedy here in our little area of the world. 

Ten of the 12 people riding in the van belonging to family patriarch John Esh lost their lives Friday morning in a crash on Interstate 65, and members of the mostly Mennonite church have spent the hours since then putting the tragedy in perspective.  Esh, his family, and others were en route to a wedding in Iowa when the crash occurred.  Killed were John and Sadie Esh and their children; Anna, Rose, Rachel and Leroy, along with Leroy's wife, Naomi, and their 3-year-old adopted son, Jalen.  Also killed were Rachel's fiance, Joel Gingerich, and family friend, Ashlie Kramer.  45-year-old Kenneth Laymon, the driver of the tractor-trailer that crossed the median and struck the van head on, was also killed.  Two of Leroy and Naomi's adopted children, Josiah, 5, and Johnny, 3, survived the crash only because  the bench their car seats were attached to was ejected from the van instantly upon impact, saving them from the blunt of the impact.  Leroy and Naomi had adopted the boys as infants from Guatemala. 

John Esh and his family settled in Marrowbone about eight years ago.  Before moving to Kentucky, the family had lived in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.  They built a business, Esh’s Vinyl Buildings, constructing storage buildings on site next to their home.  The family loved to sing, and became recording artists known as The Eshes.  The family sold their CD's of bluegrass gospel songs to support a mission in Brazil that two of John and Sadie’s surviving sons, Elmer and Abner, operate.  At the last Foothills Festival, I stood behind Anna, Rose and Rachel at an impromptu bluegrass gospel concert. 

Friends described the Esh family as a family with strong faith.  The Esh family attended the Marrowbone Christian Brotherhood Church, located across the street from their home.  The Church was a sister church to the one the Esh family left behind in North Carolina, only it had transitioned from New Order Amish to Mennonite in order to expand its mission outreach.  The local Mennonites had purchased the former Carhartt building at Marrowbone for weddings and funerals and that is where the funeral of the Esh family members and Joel Gingerich was to take place Tuesday.  Thousands were expected to attend.  Caskets were made by a Mennonite church in Greensburg and several members of the Mennonite community volunteered to hand-dig the graves for each of the 10 people who died in the van.  Those 10 will be laid to rest outside Marrowbone Christian Brotherhood Church.

Meanwhile, family members say all of their needs are being met.  Members of the community were bringing food money and supplies to the Carrhart building.  People in and around Marrowbone vacated their homes to provide sleeping quarters for those coming in and everyone had plenty of food. Someone even donated a refrigerated semi trailer stocked with food.

If you would like to help out with funeral expenses friends and family are asking you to mail donations to: "The Esh and Gingerich Funeral Expense Fund" P.O. Box 337, Burkesville, KY 42717.  A foundation has been established which hopes to carry on the work of John Esh.  Once funeral expenses have been covered, it is the hope of eshfund.org to raise enough money to continue the vision and passion which John successfully instilled in his children—taking the gospel to the ends of the Earth whatever the cost. And the Esh's knew the costs well. They lost another son, John, Jr. in 2006 in a snowmobile crash while Johnny was on a mission trip in the Ukraine. Another son and his family now doing missions work in Brazil have been robbed and held at gunpoint. John and Sadie’s remaining children continue to be a living example of their parent’s vision.

All monies contributed to this foundation are being managed by Ervin Kauffman, Deacon at the Marrowbone Christian Brotherhood. Alan Lindsey, a friend of the community, is acting as administrator of the Paypal account and website since this Mennonite community does not utilize computers. Any questions or concerns can be directed by email to the Esh Fund Administrator.  Those who prefer to contribute by check can mail contributions to: The John and Sadie Esh Family and Friends Foundation, First and Farmer’s National Bank, 129 N. Main Street, Burkesville, KY 42717.


As of this past weekend, my blog reached a milestone of 10,000 hits or visits in just over one year, 13 months to be exact.  A big thank you to my many readers.  I appreciate you.  Your words are very encouraging.

I am working on getting my health back.  I've had a few hard days since I was hospitalized, but I am working on getting there.  Thank you for your support and your prayers.  It means a lot.

The Notorious Meddler

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dancing In Circles

I played a song this morning.  It was entitled, Dancing In Circles by Love and Theft.  I have to admit that I had not given this song a listen until now, but the words blew me away.

Well I don't understand why we do what we do to each other
According to His word we're all born sisters and brothers
But we lie and we steal, we fight and we kill, even though we know the way

All through the ages we try to share this world together
Turning the pages pretending we'll live here forever
But we'll have to face our maker someday and reap what we've sown all the way

And we know, how so, why can't we just get it right
And I pray, someday we'll overcome all the damage we've done and we'll fly

Why do we go dancing in circles when we know it never ends
We come so close to loving each other and then we go dancing in circles again

The age-old question I have heard most of my life is the theme of this song.  Why can't we just get along to, as the words suggest "share this world together" as sisters and brothers, instead of 'dancing in circles (i.e. fighting, war)?  The message of this song is universal.  Why do we do the things we do to each other?  One writer said, "Showing us both sides of the human condition, the beautiful and the troubling, Love and Theft deliver an always timely message in this thought-provoking song."

Love and Theft is a country music band formed in Nashville, Tennessee in 2006. It is comprised of Brian Bandas of Austin, Texas, Stephen Barker Liles of Palm Harbor, Florida and Eric Gunderson of Charlotte, North Carolina. After Taylor Swift heard the trio's music, she brought them on board as an opening act for her headlining concerts in 2008. The band's debut album, World Wide Open, was released on August 25, 2009. Co-written by Liles, who sings lead on the song, 'Dancing in Circles' is the groups second release.  It debuted on the charts on December 12, 2009.

Check out the video, shot in downtown Nashville, or just go all out and buy the song, or album, from your favorite music soure.  I strongly urge this.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Bridge Not Made By Hands

"It is for me to remember that the Lord is a stronghold in the day of trouble." - Rev. Clemens Means, 1877.

I love researching my family history.  I love it even more when I find something nice to write about.  For instance, consider this one thing I discovered only this morning.  I love going to York's Fentress County Tennessee.  Alvin C. York's son, Bruce, spent more than 10 years developing this database as a community service.  It started out as a project to assist people searching for their Fentress County roots, but not it has expanded to the entire region.  If you are looking for relatives who may have lived in this area, visit York's Fentress County Tennessee.  It's the number one genealogy site for researching all families from this area. Over 200,000 names are listed.

Getting back to my story, I was looking at one section of my family tree on York's Fentress County Tennessee this morning and one thing led to another and here I am writing another story, which I hope you enjoy.

Hanchrist Carlock reached America sometime around 1725.  He served in the American Revolution, fighting Indian allies of Great Britian. Before the war, Hanchrist was the road foreman in Augusta County, Virginia.  About the same time, George Washington, the future president, was working as a civil engineer in Augusta County.  George was given the task of surveying a road from the mouth of the Potomac to Natural Bridge.  One of the wonders of the world, Natural Bridge approaches Niagara Falls in grandeur and exceeds it in height (215 feet) and natural mystery. Natural Bridge is 100 feet wide.  Its span is 90 feet. Under its arch men look like small boys, and giant trees like small bushes.  Thomas Jefferson was the first owner of the land surrounding Natural Bridge.  He spoke of it as yet to be 'a famous place that will draw the attention of the world.'  John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court 1801 to 1835, named it 'God's Greatest Miracle In Stone.' American statesman and orator Henry Clay wrote of 'the Bridge not made with hands...'"

To assist him in the survey of this great scenic wonder, George hired Hanchrist Carlock to be his foreman.  One day, George chiseled 'G. Washington' in capital letters 23 feet up the Southwest wall of the canyon. Hanchrist chiseled 'H. Carlock' about 12 feet below and 10 feet to the right of Washingtons. Both signatures are still visible today.

Hanchrist came to America from Holland.  His son, Job Carlock, migrated west to Overton County, Tennessee sometime around 1805 and married Sarah McDonald.  Their daughter, Nancy, married Presbyterian minister Clemens Means, son of irish immigrants, Andrew and Nancy Means, about 1820.   Clemens' brother, Benjamin, was the great-great grandfather of my grandmother, Dimple Means Speck.

At the age of 77, Clemens Means sat down and wrote a biographical sketch about himself.  The quote I used at the beginning of this story was written by Rev. Means in this sketch..."It is for me to remember that the Lord is a stronghold in the day of trouble."   I thought about how many times George Washington, John Marshal and even Henry Clay might have turned to God for help as they were helping form this great country of ours.  I imagine Hanchrist Carlock needed a higher power as he left his homeland for America, and so did his son, Job, as he migrated west from Virginia to Tennessee.

It really is a small world, sometimes hard to live in.  But, just like the characters in this story, it is a whole lot easier to live in when we realize that we are connected by a 'bridge not made by hands.'

God is good.

Long may our Land be Bright with Freedom's Holy Light

Officially, the Continental Congress declared its freedom from Great Britain on July 2, 1776, but after voting to approve it, a draft do...