25 January 2012

Beauty in Writing

A few years ago, I was able to take a trip to Alberta, Canada, with my lovely Aunt Patti. The trip was to celebrate the birthday of one of my grandmother Elsie's relatives. It was an incredible opportunity to meet some of our Tober relations and be a part of a very special occasion.

One of the original homesteads in Alberta for ancestors of Elsie Tober.
I had relatives born in this house.


One of the highlights for me was a trip to the Archives office of the New Sarepta Moravian Church. What an amazing collection! And one of my first ventures exploring the world of private collections. We walked out that day with a wealth of knowledge, requests for photo copies pending, and an amazing treasure: The Hoyler Diaries, 1896 - 1909, Rev. Clement Hoyler. This text was published by the Canadian Moravian Historical Society in May 1990, Edmonton, Alberta.

I remember I started reading it on the plane ride home. I quickly realized how vital and important this document would be to my efforts to paint a picture of my ancestors life. Not only was this piece valuable in terms of putting them in historical context; the struggles, the effort of the community, the religious impact in their lives, it actually listed many of them by name in their day to day life. I was so excited to see all of this, it was just pure joy to read through, and to learn about them as people, not just as dates and locations.

Here are a few excerpts:

February 22 (1896)
"Bro. Phillip Busenius and I left for 9:00 a.m. for Bruderheim. To begin with, mainly between South Edmonton and Edmonton the going was rough. The reasons were a problem between the harness and the sleigh and a poorly shod horse. In Edmonton we bought two bolts which we secured to the end of the shafts of the sleigh. Now we tied the harness to them. This was to help us to control the horses when going downhill. We arrived in Fort Sasketchewan in good spirits around 1:45 p.m. where we had something to eat. Around 2:30 p.m. we continued our trip to Bruderheim. At 5:30 p.m. we arrived at Bro. A. Lilge's house where I spent the night while Bro. Busenius continued on to Bro. Ludwig Lilge's home where he stayed."

March 4 (1900)
"A stormy day. The attendance in the morning was 90. I preached about Isaiah 63:1-3. In the afternoon Sunday School and Bible class were held. The service was again attended by 90. I preached about "The seat of mercy," Hebrews 9:5 and Romans 3:25. There was no choir practice. I visited Phillip Busenius' sick child."

February 4 (1901)
"In the morning I drove to Ferd. Busenius' where Julius is very sick. After I had returned, I had to write a letter for a certain Trellenberg."

October 1 (1904)
"We visited Stebners, where we ate lunch. From there we drove on to Julius Debert's on the large Hay Lake. They live there quite romantically right across from an island. They have their own boat. It was somewhat rainy today."

April 28 (1909)
"At noon the wedding of Diewert-Paul took place. I spoke about Hosea 14:8. We spent part of the afternoon at Paul's, the parents of the bride. A heavy snowstorm raged. We held no prayer service in the evening."