My grandfather left this record of my grandmother’s family, the Longeneckers of Pennsylvania; it is largely focused on the life of my great-grandfather. J. Hershey Longenecker was born into a Mennonite family from the Lancaster-area. He ended up a Presbyterian minister in Kentucky and then a missionary to Congo. My great-grandfather wrote a memoir about his life that my dad’s cousin has made freely available. You can read my other posts about Hershey Longenecker here.
Dorothy Anne Longenecker Hopper (Mrs. Joe B. Hopper) , generally known as Dot, was the daughter of J. Hershey Longenecker and Minnie Hauhart Longenecker. In recording her Longenecker ancestry, it is necessary to rely very heavily on her father’s book “Memories of Congo, Tales of adventure and work in the heart of Africa.” Considerable material was edited out by his publishers, but fortunately we have his preliminary manuscripts which are more detailed. Therefore we will here virtually copy from his book and insert matters of interest from those earlier manuscripts.
It is interesting that on the page opposite the title page in this book, Dot’s father quoted the very same verse that my father used so often and preached on many times:
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
We begin with his own introduction of himself:
As the second son born into the family of John E. Longenecker, and Lizzie H. Hershey at Landisville, Pennsylvania, May 23, 1889, I was given Mother’s family name, Hershey. This was about the time of the Johnstown Flood. The Longeneckers had come from Switzerland in 1729, and the Hersheys no later, though I have no record of that date. But I know that they too came from Switzerland. The ancestry on both sides of the family was Mennonite. In the home both English and the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect were spoken, but only the English language was taught in school.
Seven of us eight children lived to grow up. The other six were: Martin, Anna Mae, Bert, Roy, Mary, and Earl (?). At three weeks of age I had a severe case of whooping cough. Three times Mother thought I was dead in her arms. The first two times she was willing to give me up. The third time she was not. But I lived. As a child I was not very strong. I was kept out of school one full year, because my physical development lagged behind that of my brain. Then I returned to school and entered the same class I had left, thus losing no time.
Our parents, and so far as known the ancestry for many generations, were consecrated Christians. There were prayers at meals, family prayers with Bible Reading, regular attendance at Sunday School, Christian Endeavor Society and two preaching services on Sundays, and prayer meeting on Wednesday nights. Father and Mother were totally devoted to God, to each other, and to us children.
There was plenty of work for everybody. During vacations and outside of school hours we were kept busy much of the time with housework, cutting and carrying firewood, feeding and watering cows and horses, caring for chickens and pigs, and helping Father with his work. We assisted with truck gardening. For some years Father engaged in a small green grocery business, selling fruits and vegetables with two wagons from house to house. In helping him we boys learned something of getting along with people, though I was very timid. One summer I drove the baker’s wagon selling bread and here I learned to get along with a vicious horse.
But our parents also believed in recreation for children, so we had time to read books from the Sunday School library. I did not go in much for sports in general but did like ice skating and fishing and shooting. We played indoor games at home, such as checkers, crokinole and anagrams. We also played croquet on our pretty lawn.
The years passed and I graduated from Mount Joy High School (Lancaster County, Pa.) I had made my profession of faith and united with the church when I was fourteen. But I am not sure about the time of my conversion. I had three different religious experiences, but of these the third seems to have been my real conversion, when I sensed the joy of sins forgiven as never before. This was a few years after I joined the Church. This was not the Mennonite Church, but what is known as the Church of God (Winebrennerian), which my parents had joined some years before. It resembled in various ways the Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist Churches.
At sixteen I left home, trying to sell aluminum cooking utensils. But I was too timid, not aggressive enough, to be a good salesman. I went to Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and was just well started, when the police clamped down with some old law forbidding canvassing from house to house. That ended my career as a salesman.
Then my grandmother died, and I was invited to come to Philadelphia to live with my Grandfather Hershey and two aunts. Grandfather was an earnest Christian, also he was lots of fun. In greeting visitors to his house, he would say with a happy smile, “The Lord be with us.” During the days I would be away working. But at supper in the evenings, and especially after a good Sunday dinner, Grandfather entertained us with the most amusing stories. Sometimes we laughed until our sides ached.
As I was reading quite a lot of fiction, grandfather once asked me whether I had read the Bible through. I admitted that I had not. But I began. For about eight years I gave up the reading of fiction. I did read the newspaper and biographies and other non-fiction. But I majored on the Bible and as a result I was so familiar with the King James version of the New Testament that I would have recognized at once any error in anyone’s reading aloud from the Book. The text for many a sermon has come to me in the hours of the night from the treasure house of memory.
While living with Grandfather I received a gift that pleased me very much. It was a toy electric motor, or rather the parts for the motor, with instructions for assembling it. After assembling and operating it, I became intensely interested in simple electricity. The Friends’ Public Library was not far away, and there I borrowed how-to-do-it books which helped me to make a number of simple things such as electro-magnets, induction coils, buzzers, and electric batteries. My best job was making a set of shocking coils. One of my friends who knew more about electricity than I did laughed at my crude outfit, and doubted whether it had any power. So he got the first chance to try it . And was he shocked! He quaked so violently as to pull down my battery and it was smashed.
Like many experiences of my boyhood this work with electricity helped me greatly when I worked at the Mission Press many years later. There I needed electricity for the operation of a Monotype type-casting machine. My boyhood experiments encouraged me to go through with taking to Congo a steam boiler, steam engine, electric generator, and the type-casting machine itself. So the playthings of my boyhood had considerable importance in the greatest work of my life.
I got a job in a large factory painting wooden tanks for storage batteries. It was dirty work, and my companions for the most part were uneducated men would never be anything more than day laborers. There were, however, two notable exceptions. One was a little old carpenter who was a Methodist local preacher and read Dickens, and the other was a Scotch rug weaver. Both of these intelligent, capable men took such work as this during dull seasons in their own lines of work.
My reason for taking this job at the Electric Storage Battery Company was that I hoped to become an electrical engineer. But it seemed that the openings for training went to those more favored, and I might have to wait a long time for an opening. There came an opportunity to work at the Western Electric Company. My first task was splicing wires in telephone cables. This work was done by a gang working together. The gang received a bonus if it exceeded a certain quota. This led to keen interest on the part of all to see that no one lagged. Before I could become proficient in the work, others kept prodding me to work faster. After about three days I could take no more prodding and gave up the job. But that three days gave me ideas which I used later in Africa for organizing piecework in the production of lumber, and still later at the Mission Press.
Through a friend I got employment at the Hale and Kilburn Manufacturing Company. Their chief business was the production of car seats for railway passenger cars and street railway trolley cars. Here I worked as an office boy in the upholstery department, as well as timekeeper for the upholsterers who worked on a piecework system. Here I learned how men react when they fear the cutting of piecework rates. They warned any man who could work faster than the rest, that if he earned too much the rates would be cut and all would lose money.
One night I dreamed that I had entered the Williamson Trade School not far from Philadelphia. Father had once suggested this possibility to me, but at the time the idea did not appeal to me in the least. Now I wished to go there, and my parents agreed that I should apply for admission. But the chances were nine to one that I would not be admitted. It was reported that seventy boys would be accepted, and there were seven hundred applicants, of whom four hundred were actually examined at the school.
Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades, Delaware County, Pa., was said to be the first trade school in America. It was founded by a Quaker bachelor merchant of Philadelphia who left two and one half million dollars to build and endow the school. It was designed to give an education thorough training in mechanical trades, plus a well balanced English education, to poor boys without cost. While on a schedule which required strict obedience and hard work and study, the student received tuition, board, lodging, and all needed clothing, for three years, as a free gift. The boys who were admitted were fortunate indeed, and I was one of them, from 1907 to 1910. The excellent training received there has been of incalculable value to me in my work throughout the years in Africa. In fact that training is what took me to Africa when I planned to go to the Orient. Because Jesus was a carpenter, I chose the carpentering trade. This course included an excellent course in cabinet making.
I did not want to be a preacher or a teacher or a missionary. I did wish to become a wealthy building contractor, and have much money to give to the Church and to missions.
After graduation I went with some fellow graduates to Flint, Michigan, where Earle Schaeffer, one of our alumni, was already employed. My Williamson School roommate, Elmer Kleinginna, and I started to work for building contractors in the rapidly growing city, and each of us bought a lot on the installment plan. He was a mason and I was a carpenter. We planned to work as partners building houses for sale.
But in the year 1910 the automotive industry suffered a terrible slump. Some thought the automobile business had already passed its peak, and was on its way out. People were laid off in the thousands. The population of Flint dropped fifty per cent in a few weeks. So Elmer and I got jobs in Detroit for a while. then friends in Flint invited me back to work for the Buick Motor Company, which had been reorganized as part of General Motors Corporation. For some months I worked there as an automobile body maker. Car bodies were built almost entirely of wood in those days, and the assembly and finishing of woodwork was really skilled labor. But Elmer and I still looked forward to the building business.
We had heard something of the work of the “Soul Winners Society,” a home mission project in the mountains of the south. Elmer suggested that we volunteer for that work. The financial arrangement was that we would receive no salary. Dr. Edward O. Guerrant, founder of the Society, distributed to the workers such funds as the Lord sent. He was a great preacher who had left the pastorate of a large city church to do this work. Before he entered the ministry he had been a successful physician. He was one of the most dynamic personalities I ever knew.
Elmer’s suggestion was not to my liking. I was willing to work for the Lord, but I did not want to receive money for it. I wanted to support myself, and help to support others. But face the question I must, and it was not easy. A great battle raged within my soul. At last the matter was settled on my knees. It seemed hard indeed to give up the idea of financial independence. At last I told the Lord I was willing to do whatever He wanted me to do. So Elmer and I started for Kentucky. We were first to erect a mission school building at Heidelburg, in the mountainous lumber and coal mining area of Lee County. After completing that job, Elmer remained as principal of the Beechwood Seminary, and I was sent away back into the mountains of Breathitt County, which was then called “Bloody Breathitt,” because of its feuds.1
We have the diary or journal Hershey kept2 from Aug. 27, 1911 through March 29, 1912 while he was working in Breathitt County.3 It gives a day by day account in great detail of his activities during this period. There are numerous references to Dr. Guerrant who seems to have travelled and visited constantly throughout these rugged mountain districts and personally supervised the building of schools and churches. Details of the construction projects are related, and there are several pages of accounts, listing contributions to this work and the amounts spent on each type of material.
Along with this are his personal accounts kept by turning his journal upside down and writing from the other end of the book. Here is a sample:
|10/20||On hand||2.55||10/25||Pair shoes||$3.50|
|11/3||Check Out. Sal. Pres. Board||25.00||10/26||Board to date||3.75|
|Personal money||9.84||11/3||Board to 11/3||.75|
|Belle Point service||1.00||11/6||Haircut||.25|
|Gift Mrs. Brown||2.50||12.30|
|Check Dr. Morris||10.30||Repair watch||1.30|
|Oct. board||12.50||11/9||Board to date||3.75|
|46.59||11/11||Postage reg. watch||.17|
|11/19||On hand||34.40||11/16||Board to date||3.75|
In the early part of this diary he mentioned “Pearl” a number of times. Just who she was is not clear.
Sept. 2, 1911. This was Pearl’s birthday and I thought of her often, and of her surprise party one year ago.
Sept. 8, 1911. I had a very agreeable dream last night about Pearl. But I expected a letter from her this morning and did not get it.
Sept. 9, 1911. I have been looking for a letter from Pearl in vain for three days. Somehow I have had a peculiar feeling about the friendship for some time. It just seems to me that she cannot care so much as she once did or she would write more frequently. What will be the result of my feeling in the matter I do not know. But an outright break would be more desirable than this suspense and uncertainty…
Eventually he did break off the affair, but it was not many months before his correspondence with his Aunt Alice in Philadelphia led to his ardent letter writing to Minnie Hauhart which is related below. Evidently he also had some difficulties with Elmer Kleinginna over the matter of which had authority in carrying on their construction work. This caused him considerable anguish for some time, but eventually they had a long frank talk and seemed to have settled things amicably. Preaching in various circumstances seemed to have been a large part of his work…in fact almost every day he seems to have been helping with such services somewhere (often along with Elmer who must have been quite an effective preacher).
Oct. 8, 1911. I rose about 6:30 this morning and had a very nice chat with Bro. John (Durbin), after which we had breakfast. Sister Durbin had very nice friend chicken and the best biscuit I have eaten in Kentucky. They were so light and fluffy. I conducted family worship by and by , reading the 107 Psalm. After more conversation I “went up into the mountain apart to pray” and prepare for my sermon. I had not definitely decided what to preach, but I thin decided to preach on the subject of “Prayer,” u sing the parable of the unjust judge. I enjoyed the view from the point of the mountain so much. The Lord blessed me with utterance so that I really had pleasure in preaching to an audience of about 30.
After the service two ladies each gave me 35 cents, saying that that is they way they treat their preacher. I told them I had not been paid for a sermon before. They said they ought to pay me for the preaching helped them so much. Bro. Durbin made the total $1.00.
Oct. 19, 1911. Tonight Elmer conducted the prayer service. We were so glad to have two women take part in testimony. About 100 or 110 were present. I found it necessary to chase the pigs from under the building before service. I tried to get out some dogs that disturbed the service, but succeeded with only one.
Nov. 14, 1911. Sunday morning rose about 6:45 and it was raining heavily. It was becoming colder all the time… It soon began to sleet, raising the question of whether I should go to Ida May. But I felt my only place was at Ida May. So I walked up there through a driving sleet storm. The scenery along my way was as desolate and melancholy as I have ever seen. But I thought that the Good Shepherd has sought many sheep in just such weather. There were 17 in S.S. at Mrs. Kleity’s house…
On my way back the Lord gave me the leading thoughts for Sunday night’s sermon. I taught my class here with 12 present. Mr. Davis was in the class for the day.
After S.S. I came home to prepare my sermon but young Mr. Pike dropped into the room and so I had an extended talk with him. After he left I went over the sermon. There may have been about 50 present for the evening service.
There are also detailed accounts of his actual carpentry work in building schools and churches. He wrote of what he had done each day, the materials used, and of the general progress of his work. Evidently the people of the community as well as Dr. Guerrant and other leaders were highly pleased with the results of his labors. In his book, he wrote:
Living alone in a shack on the mountainside near the church, I taught a little school on weekdays and preached on Sundays. Also I cooked my own meals, without benefit of supermarkets. Later I was assigned to the building of another mission school, but on three different sites the work was started and then blocked because the land was involved in litigation, or for some other reason.
Near the end of his time in Kentucky, his diary reports:
Mr. K. brought home the Missionary Survey last night in which is Dr. Morris’s account of his trip through the mountains. Elmer and I felt somewhat disappointed that he did not mention us as preaching, but only conducting prayer meetings. But we came for the sake of lost souls, and not for a name…
Of us, Dr. Morris says: “Two young men, graduates of a technological school in Philadelphia gave up each a salary of $4 per day to accept $25 per month and being practical mechanics are building with their own hands a $2500 school building. Consecrated, earnest Christians, they conduct prayer services in the town and surrounding hamlets.”
We continue from the account in his book.
Dr. Guerrant was getting old, and was turning over his work to the denominations willing to take it. So a minister friend4 advised me to enter the ministry in the Methodist or the Presbyterian Church. I studied the doctrines of both churches for some months, and then decided that I belonged in the Presbyterian Church. The Presbytery of Transylvania sent me to preach in a mining town at Stearns, Kentucky. However, the Presbytery also wished to send me to Theological Seminary. I would have preferred not to go to Seminary, but on the insistence of the Presbytery I agreed to go, and they sent me to the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, assisting me with work and scholarships so I could complete the three years of study without debt. After two years in mountain mission work, I was in seminary from 1913 to 1916.
During most of my Seminary course I was also preaching. In my middle year I began to preach at the Berry Boulevard Church in the suburbs of Louisville, and on graduation was ordained pastor of that Church in 1916.
During the Seminary course I heard a sermon by Dr. Vander Meulen of the Second Church in Louisville. It was not a missionary sermon. Only incidentally there was a sentence to the effect that half the world had not even heard the name of Christ. That sentence impressed me greatly. While there was much distorted preaching of the Gospel in the mountains in those days, I knew that anyone in those hills who really wanted the Gospel could have access to it. But what about those people who had never had a chance? As a result of my cogitations I discussed the matter with my fiancee and we agreed to offer ourselves for service in foreign lands. First we proposed China or Japan or Korea. But Dr. Egbert W. Smith, our Board Secretary, when he learned of my earlier education, urged that we volunteer for Africa, where my trade training was greatly needed. So at last our faces were turned to Africa. We were appointed in 1916. the war delayed our going, but in 1917 we sailed for the Belgian Congo.
One of the most interesting stories in his book is that of the courtship of Dot’s parents. Publishers of his book wanted to omit this, but he insisted, and I am here copying the full account in his initial manuscript.
From the time I was sixteen I prayed that the Lord would prepare a life partner for me. But I didn’t really do anything about it except to pray. I never had a girl friend or a date until I was twenty-one. Then in Michigan I did have a girl friend for a while. But when I left there our letters became fewer and fewer, until they stopped.
So Elmer and I were two lonely bachelors boarding at a country hotel in the lumber village of Heidelburg, Kentucky, while we were busy building the Beechwood Seminary.
My Aunt Alice in Philadelphia had been my best pal while I lived with her and Grandfather, and afterwards. While a student at Williamson Trade School I spent all of my free week-ends at their home. She continue to write to me after I went to Michigan and Kentucky. One day returning to the hotel from our building work we stopped at the Post Office. I received one letter, and a packet which looked as if it might contain a photograph. Both were from Aunt Alice. Waiting until I reached our room to open them, I wondered what the picture might be. Here I quote from my diary under date of October 9, 1911:
After some little guessing I decided it must be a picture of her school. What was my surprise upon opening the packet to find the picture of a beautiful young woman. I was not prepared to analyze my feelings, but as nearly as I can tell there were mingled a strong admiration and a hope that she was not an impossibility. The letter gave a wonderful write-up of the qualities and accomplishments of this attractive young lady. Picture and letter together had quite an effect on me. I read the letter and looked at the picture time and again.
The picture was that of Miss Minnie C. Hauhart, Aunt Alice’s friend from St. Louis, Missouri. She had gone east to visit her sister on Long Island, then went to visit a friend at a school for training Christian workers at Nyack on the Hudson. During the latter visit there came an urgent call for a teacher in a Presbyterian school for Italians in Germantown. Miss Hauhart answered and accepted the position. Part of the compensation was to board in the large and beautiful home of Mrs. Beck, where my two aunts, my Grandfather, and my sister Mary, lived. Everybody admired and loved her, but she and Aunt Alice became very close friends. This happened while I was working in Michigan.
The letter explained that on her return to St. Louis she had sent this photograph to Aunt Alice. My younger brother Martin happened to visit there. He saw the picture and went into raptures. He said he wished he were older. Aunt Alice told him he was too young… Miss Hauhart was nearer Hershey’s age. He said he just wished Hershey could meet her. But she explained that as Hershey was in the mountains of Kentucky, and Miss Hauhart in Missouri, there seemed to be no hope of our meeting. Then in jest she said, “The only thing I could do would be to send him her picture.” Immediately he began urging her to send it, and was so persistent that she finally agreed, and this was the result.
Next day my diary states; “I wrote a twenty page letter to Aunt Anna and an eight page letter to Aunt Alice. I teased Aunt Alice quite a little and asked Aunt Anna some pretty serious questions…” I wrote Aunt Alice I thought she ought to be prosecuted by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Bachelors. But I asked Aunt Anna very seriously for her opinion of Miss Hauhart, and concluded by asking whether she thought I would have any chance to win the young lady’s hand. She answered my other questions in ways which showed that she held her in highest esteem. But to my final question she replied, “That is something you must find out for yourself.” My diary (October 16) states: “Tonight I received a most interesting letter from Aunt Alice in response to my reply to her letter about Miss H.” I had asked Aunt Alice for Miss Hauhart’s address. She sent it.
They had discussed the possibility of volunteering for service in Dr. Guerrant’s “Soul Winners Society.” Naturally I supposed she (Minnie) would like to know about it. So my first letter said I understood that she was interested in the mountain mission work, and offered to give her information direct from the field. I did not tell her about having her picture in my possession.
Later I learned that when my letter reached her, Miss Hauhart was indignant at my request that she write to a young man she had never met. But her sister (Catherine) from New York happened to be home, and told her she mustn’t take things so seriously. She could reply, have a bit of fun, and break it off whenever she wished. And so began our correspondence.
Exchange of letters with Philadelphia continued. My income was only $25.00 per month, so I had no money for travel. But both of my aunts and Mrs. beck were in sympathy with my desire to meet Miss Hauhart, so they invited her to come to Philadelphia for the Christmas holidays, and also invited me. Mrs. Beck sent me a check for travel expenses. But they did not tell Miss Hauhart.
The visit to Philadelphia was very welcome, but much the greater interest was to meet the lady from Missouri. So I was quite let down to find she had not come. In reply to my letter expressing my disappointment, she wrote: “If I had been all packed up to come, and had learned you were coming I would have unpacked my suitcase at once.” That sounded, oh, so hopeless. But she added: “However, the family has agreed that if you have occasion to pass through St. Louis on your way to Kentucky you might stop over for a day.”
Her suggestion involved 600 miles of extra travel. But I promptly replied that I expected to make occasion to pass through St. Louis. Mrs. Beck was very kind to me. She paid all the expenses of my trip to Philadelphia, then to St. Louis, and back to Kentucky.
So on a fine clear morning in January her brother Edward met me at the train and drove me to the beautiful country home near Manchester, Missouri. I can never forget our first meeting in the living room where Edward introduced me. She was even more beautiful than her picture. But she did not receive me as a long lost brother. I was welcomed in a very formal sort of way. The atmosphere was so cool that she gave me not the slightest encouragement when I asked for a photograph to take with me. It did not seem best to tell her that I had in my suitcase the one Aunt Alice had loaned me until I got one of my own.
Her blind father and her brothers and sisters were friendly. She was the youngest of ten living children. Her father had long been a widower, and his unmarried daughters had helped him keep the home while the children grew up.
Next day I took my departure with a promise to correspond, and an invitation to return in May.
Returning to Kentucky, my next assignment was to Rousseau, on Quicksand Creek, 16 miles from Jackson over a road that was passable only on horseback much of the winter. And there I lived alone in a lonely, roughly built manse next to the church on the mountainside. My work was to preach and teach in a little school and visit the people. Cooking and housekeeping were necessary sidelines. So I had plenty of time that winter to think of how fine it would be to have a helpmeet. We exchanged letters. I wrote her about the daily experiences, including incidents in the community and the school, and telling about the pupils. When she learned that one of the girls was 16 years old, Miss Hauhart took advantage of the opportunity to tease me about her. That gave me a welcome excuse to write that there was only one girl in the world for me. That seemed like real fun until I received the next letter. It was just a line to say that if that was the way I was going to talk she had no date to set for my next visit.
I was heartbroken. I had felt so sure that she was the answer to my prayers of seven years, and here we had suddenly come to the end of the road. I felt desperately lonely. I told the Lord of my great disappointment, but was able to say, “Nevertheless not my will, but Thine, be done.” In spite of my effort to accept whatever might be the Lord’s will, I could not help but go over the problem day and night for the next few days. Then one night I had a ray of hope. After all, Miss Hauhart was a school teacher. And besides, she had started this by teasing me first about that schoolgirl. So I thought I saw a possible way out.
My next letter was to this effect: “You are as school teacher. Now suppose you had made a rule for your pupils against throwing snowballs. And suppose you forgot and yourself threw a snowball at one of the boys, could you blame him very much if he threw one back?” That did it. She relented, and wrote to say that I might come in May as originally planned. So in May I went for a visit of about five days. From my point of view she was the girl whom the Lord had chosen. I loved her, and needed her as a homemaker and helper in my work. I could not afford trips to Missouri. So I felt the time was ripe for a yes or no decision during that visit. It was intolerable to think of the possibility that in my absence someone else might woo and win her just because I had failed to let her know I loved her and wanted her to be my wife.
And so, early in my visit, under the apple tree in that beautiful yard, I brought her my proposal in the form of some verses I had composed for the occasion. I do not know what became of the verses, and I did not know for four days what she would do about my proposal. Then one night in the moonlight, in the open buggy slowly drawn by the old horse called Cleveland, I begged her to kiss me and say “Yes.” At last, and quite reluctantly, she agree to marry me.
Overflowing with happiness, I expected that we could be married in the autumn, and she would join me in my lonely home on the mountainside. But that was not to be. The months between our engagement and marriage were the longest forty months of my life. The long delay was due to the action of the Presbytery, previously mentioned, which resulted in my spending three years as a student at Louisville Seminary. In those days few students were married, and Mignon (the name by which he called her) would not think of marrying me until I had finished the course. So during the years of our engagement I saw her only twice a year, and while the intervals between visits were very busy, they seemed painfully long.5
One summer I boarded at a mountain hotel, where one of the fellows brought down the house by telling that in the evening I walked a mountain ridge, looking west, and singing, “I need thee, O, I need thee.”
After hearing the sermon stating that half the world had not even heard the name of Christ, we considered the matter, and decided to volunteer as foreign missionaries. By and by I suggested to Mignon that it might be desirable for her to know some of my friends and teachers before we went abroad as missionaries of the Southern Presbyterian Church. After some persuasion she agreed to the idea, so we were married just before my senior year in Louisville Seminary. The wedding took place in the presence of her father, her four sisters and five brothers, at her country home near Manchester, Missouri, on Sept. 23, 1915. At the time I was supply preacher, and later pastor, of the Berry Boulevard Presbyterian Church, a small congregation in the suburbs of Louisville. When I brought Mignon to them, my people fell in love with her.
For the first of our many homes, I rented two unfurnished rooms on First Street, and made them quite livable by attending auction sales and buying used furniture, which I cleaned up and varnished. She came with me to this pleasant apartment, and we were very happy there, as I completed the last year of my seminary course. As our apartments were near the seminary, Mignon and the wife of another student were able to attend some of the classes that winter. Two years later we were on our way to the Congo.
Since his book relates his life in the Congo, I am not here describing it fully. After the Longeneckers became a part of my life in 1945 I continue with further information as we passed many years in the same family. Perhaps this account of Hershey Longenecker’s life at this point should end with the introduction of his book:
Longenecker, while performing missionary duties in Africa, was captured by cannibals. It is said that he made excellent soup.
That is what Frank Flower, the class prophet, said about me when our class graduated from the Williamson Trade School, near Philadelphia, in 1910. You may find the words on page 56 of “The Mechanic,” our annual for that year. So far as I know not a single one of the other 50 fantastic predictions about our classmates was ever fulfilled even in part.
We never knew very much about other members of the Longenecker family. We have already quoted what Mr. Longenecker wrote about his own grandfather who was a strong spiritual influence on his life, and also about his parents. Dot’s grandmother was a Hershey, evidently of the same family as the chocolate candy manufacturers, but we never received any free chocolate bars! We have already told of Dad Longenecker’ s two aunts (Alice and Anna) in Philadelphia and the great impression they left on his life. He mentions a younger brother, Martin, in his book. We did meet a sister, Anna Mae, several times. Her husband was Ray Honse and they lived in Ohio. She died fairly young, after which he remarried and then died some years later. Apparently she was quite close to Dot’s family, frequently writing, sending gifts, visiting and so on.
Dot’s Uncle Roy Longenecker was a Baptist preacher and also somewhat of a local politician. I only met him once or twice and found him a very interesting person. He was a large affable man, a good “back-slapper,” quite a talker, and with plenty of humor. I recall that he came to the 50th wedding anniversary of Dot’s parents. He remembered Dot in his will, and she received about $555.00 from his estate. But we never met other members of the Longenecker family and have no information about them. In the spring of 1989 when we took a trip to Pennsylvania and visited the city of Hershey and Lancaster County, I looked in the telephone book and found long lists of Hersheys and Longeneckers.
As is evident in his book, Hershey Longenecker was devout, loyal to the Presbyterian Church, devoted to his calling as a missionary, and loving and caring for his family. When he discovered that he had diabetes in the early 1950s, he realized that it would be difficult to continue his work in Africa, and resigned from his mission work there. He then took pastorates in Quitman, Ga. (1951-54), and in Roebuck and Center Point, S.C.(1955-56).
He then retired, and he and Dot’s mother moved to Morristown, Tn. (It was said that they moved there because they saw a sign on the edge of town proclaiming that it was the “cleanest city in the USA.) They found a new sub-division (Oak Hills) and built just about the first house there. Possibly they were attracted to this site because the developer was a Mr. Bible. With his interest in building and skills along that line, naturally Dad supervised the work on that house very carefully. They were extremely happy there and we made many visits which we always enjoyed.
They attended the First Presbyterian Church and where they made many friends. However, because of his deep concern about the course the Presbyterian Church U.S. was taking, in late life Dot’s father withdrew and joined the Presbyterian Church, P.C.A. About a year after Dot’s mother died, he married her oldest niece, Ruth Engler, and we will write more about that later. They had a most happy marriage, and Ruth gave him constant loving care during his last illness, quite certainly prolonging his life considerably because attention.
- It is interesting that my father (Joseph Hopper) worked in this same area during the first part of his ministry. [return]
- There’s an item in the Special Collections at the University of Kentucky library called Longenecker diary, Beechwood Seminary. It’s probably the same diary. I haven’t been able to look at it. —Tim Hopper [return]
- Here is a list of places in the Bloody Breathett area where he worked and mentioned in his diary: Monica (Canyon Falls Academy in Lee County), Oakdale, Puncheon Camp (Highland College), Heidelberg, Beach Grove, Ida May, Buckles’ Mill, Athol, Belle Point, Beattyville, Crossroads, Jackson, and Rousseau. Some of these he merely visited, but most seem to have been preaching points, and locations of mission schools of one kind or another. Unfortunately, his diary indicates dates quite regularly, but seldom mentions where he was. [return]
- Dot’s father often told us that it was my Uncle William Hopper who influenced him in this decision. [return]
- My Uncle George Hopper was rooming with my father at the seminary during that time, and used to tell hilarious tales about Hershey pining for Minnie, composing love poems to her, etc. [return]
comments powered by Disqus