Monday, March 21, 2022

A Bridge Not Made By Hands

Hanchrist Carlock came to America from Holland around 1725. Before the American Revolution, he was the road foreman in Augusta County, Virginia. About the same time, George Washington was working as a civil engineer in Augusta County. George was given the task of surveying a road from the mouth of the Potomac River 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, the future president hired Hanchrist 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 Washington's. Both signatures are still visible today.

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

In his own biographical sketch, Clemens Means wrote, "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.'

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