Smithsburg Maryland is one of the beautiful places in the world and in the summer of 1963 mom moved to this rolling hilly paradise to live with a young Mennonite couple on their farm. Daniel and Elva Martin had four little children Rufus, Simeon, Grace, and Faith.
I recently spoke to Elva Martin to find the facts as she remembered them. “Your mother came for the summer.” She recalled. “I’d just had Faith and just needed help. She was so good with children, and such a help, and the children liked her. She’d do anything, milk cows, drive tractor.”
Eli is the one that called us. Eli Martin. Eli was Daniel’s cousin but he considered him a father. Daniel’s family had hardship and his father left so when he was twelve he went to live with Eli’s. Eight years. Your grandfather had gone to Florida and left your grandma with I don’t know how many children and she couldn’t cope. Eli’s knew them from Pinesburg and were involved so he asked if we could take her. We loved having her.
At the end of the summer her daddy came up from Florida and got her. We stayed in contact with her, wrote letters and the next summer I was having Philemon and we asked if she would come, so we bought a bus ticket and she came all the way from Florida to Hagerstown on the bus. This was 1964.
We had a boy living with us too at the same time. He lived with us for a few years. His mother was on Jonathan Street and had health problems but we enjoyed having him with us. He got baptized at Pondsville (Mennonite Church). He got to the age where he should be paid wages and we were too poor for that so he moved to our neighbors. We lost track of him then when his mother died we found him. He had gotten married and then divorced. It hurt me right in the heart that he got divorced, and went through all that. He died a while back.
So your mother came up from Florida and spent the summer with us, but when it came time for her to go back she said she wouldn’t go. So we found out what was going on and went in to town and got the papers that said her dad couldn’t come take her. Yes, we got legal custody.
Your mother was baptized at Stouffers (Mennonite Church). She was 14
It got to be where your mother had some mental problems and we were young. I didn’t know how to help her. I guess I failed in that way. So she went to live with Mervin and Catherine Martin then she ended up with Maurice Martins. Then she moved up to Pennsylvania and taught school and we lost track of her. We didn’t know anyone up there in Myerstown back then. It wasn’t until she got married to your daddy and they came to visit us that we reconnected. I don’t remember my first impression of him, that was a long time ago.
When your parents moved back down here we reconnected and I liked the times you came and stayed with us. We really enjoy your family coming to see us. Sometimes I can hardly believe that the two young people I cared for in my home that lived with us passed on before us.
The church. Hope goes over there now, where you all went. It’s different now. We have churches all over. There’s no need for all that mess that happened. Do you go to church? Here’s the one thing you need to know if there’s a problem. Just submit. Submit.
I asked Elva if she and Daniel had ever intended to take in children that needed homes as a mission. She said that Eli asked and they needed help, too, so it just worked and they really loved my mother.
Elva’s husband Daniel died from cancer a few years ago. She lives with her daughters Grace and Faith just west of Hagerstown. They are members of Meadowview Mennonite Church. Last summer all of her children and grandchildren came together, except two. There were seventy.
Elva sews and volunteers for Christian Aid Ministries. Her husband Daniel was a successful salesman for King Oil Co, and her daughter Faith worked there for years.
Daniel and Elva are two bright shining lights in the Mennonite Church. Simply farmers but they gave without reservation and opened their lives up for a lifetime no matter what differences came.