Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A Patch On His Lapel

I have written a lot about one of my immigrant ancestors, Joachim Peters. He and his wife, Henriette, left "Germany" in 1859 with their six children and emigrated to America. My dad recently noticed that Joachim, shown in the photo below, had a patch on his lapel. As he studied the photo of his great, great grandfather, Joachim became a "real person" in his eyes. Look into his eyes. Do you see the man who left behind everyone but his wife and children to find a better life in America? 

Photo of Joachim Peters (1815-1894) 

Here's what my dad wrote:

Did you every happen to notice that Joachim has a patch on his lapel? Makes you think how much he gave up. How much effort and expense did it really take him to get to America? 

I wonder how much the trip aged him; aged all of them. His eyes are almost hollow sockets, but his eyes have a piercing stare and his jaw is set with determination. Did he always look this way?

It takes hardy stock to make pioneers. He did not just take the risk on his own, but put his whole family in jeopardy betting years of hardships so that one day they would all have a good future. Not only Joachim and his wife and children, but also for us, his descendants. 

I guess we all owe a debt of gratitude to him and all our other fathers' fathers and their fathers as well. So here is to patches on your lapel, dear Pa Pa. Sleep tight and watch over all of us, your children.

I'm glad I noticed the patch. And now, probably for the first time, I see Joachim as a real person, this earthly father of ours. Someone who would get down on his knees in the middle of the ocean and give thanks to our Heavenly Father for his love and, with the hope that He would see him and his family safely home to America. 

6 comments:

  1. This is a very insightful post--your father recognizing the humanity and sacrifices it took for this immigrant ancestor to leave the old world and everyone familiar to him, travel to the new world, and start a new life.

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    1. Thank you, Marian. I agree! I think too often we get caught up in the hunt and forget these were very real people. I want to slow down and really appreciate them.

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  2. Hardy people is an especially apt description for those who came in the second half of the 19th century and early 20th century. Many of them came from poverty which we can't imagine and lives filled with sadness.America truly was a new start in life for them.

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    1. It is really hard to imagine, Linda. I love that we study these people who have come before us and try to look into their lives, don't you?

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  3. Amazing to have such a fantastic photo, Dana. He looks like a kindly man, especially given the era the image was captured.

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  4. He does look kindly, doesn't he? I would have liked to have sat down and chatted with him.

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