GLIMPSES INTO THE LIVES
REUBEN AND ANNA SHELLY ENGLE HERSHEY
The Noah Garber Hershey family
was one of the many Brethren in Christ families who
migrated from Pennsylvania to Kansas in March 1879.
They joined a group of about 300 people at the Marietta
Railroad Station to travel where only a few of them
had been. Through diary excerpts, one can glimpse how
difficult it must have been to leave relatives and
neighbors who had gathered to bid them farewell. They
not only left these people behind, but also the fertile
lands which had nurtured them and from which their
ancestors had come in the early and
Reuben Engle Hershey, along
with his parents, Noah Garber and Barbara Lindemuth
Hershey, joined this large Brethren in Christ migration
from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to Dickinson County,
Kansas. The railroad company, eager to see the “West” settled,
made travel financially attractive and purchase of
land available for good prices. For the promise of
good living, and plenty of land for their children,
the long and intimidating rail trip was endured.
At fifteen years of age,
Reuben was the oldest of the seven Hershey children
on the trip. The family first settled in the Belle
Springs community south of Abilene, Kansas, where land
was cheap and plentiful. Noah Hershey paid $160 for
40 acres of land; assumed mortgages; and bought more
The following details are
selected from Reuben Hershey’s 1885 diary and
Anna Hershey’s 1886 diary, as transcribed in
2000 by their granddaughter, Julia Frey Taylor. She
also transcribed Reuben’s 1888 diary. Although
the entries sometimes lacked punctuation, Julia faithfully
transcribed their writings.
|Anna Hershey's 1886 diary
(left) and Reuben Hershey's 1885 diary (right). Click
on image for sample of Anna's entries.
Photo credit: Phyllis and Bob Carlson.
Reuben’s 1885 Visit to Pennsylvania
Ties “back East” remained
so strong that within five years of Kansas living,
twenty year old Reuben, accompanied by his sister Annie,
returned to Pennsylvania for an extended visit. He
made the trip in midwinter when fields were frozen
and farm work was limited. In 1885, in a small maroon
diary, he recorded his travels in Lancaster County,
and his subsequent farm work upon returning to Kansas.
It is not clear when Reuben’s visit to Pennsylvania
began, but his first entry was as follows:
Thursday, January 1 (1885)Today
we were at Grand Mother Engles. Aunt Mattie Engle
also was married. The weather, to day, was cloudy.
Yesterday we returned from Philadelphia.Friday,
January 2 (1885)Today
before noon we were at Uncle Jacobs; but, after noon
Sister and I visited at Uncle Jacob and Christian
Nissleys.Sunday, January 11 (1885)This
morning Sister and I attended Crossroad meeting;
after meeting we visited Jno. Engles below Mt. Joy.Monday,
January 12 (1885)This
morning Sister and I returned to Grand Mother Engle;
in the afternoon I helped the Uncle Engles to sever
chaff from the wheatSunday, January 18 (1885)Today
visited Uncle Benj. Garbers, and Cousin Glenn Brubakers,
and also attended church at the place) known as Kraybill’s
M. (Meeting) house. Today the weather was cold, and
the roads rough.Wednesday, January 21 (1885)
This morning from
Clayton Nissleys we went to visit Christ Hersheys;
from there we visited Cousin Eli Nissleys,
and after that to Henry Bosticks; and from
there we went to Uncle Daniel Engles, were
there during the night.Monday, January
the weather was cold and blustry. Today we
visited Cousin Andrew Nissley and Grand Uncle
Henry Engles. Two of Sam Musser’s children
were burried.Friday, February 6 (1885)To
day the weather was cold and windy. We attended
Uncle Leanders’ sale, and stayed there
during the night.Thursday, February
Grand Mother Engle had sale; it amounted to
about $1900. Sale was very dull. The attendance
of the sale was very large.Sunday, March
1 (1885)Today the
weather was very inclement; a rainy day. Uncle
(Albert) is very sick; three doctors, being
present, they operated upon him.Friday,
March 6 (1885)Today
Uncle Albert Engle was buried; aged, 26 yrs.,
10 mos. and 18 days. Today I was 21 years of
age. The weather was very moderate today. On
the 3rd of Sept. Grandmother’s birthday
is.Tuesday, March 10 (1885)Today
we started for Kansas at Marietta at 10:00;
left Harrisburg 1 o’clock P.M. Hagerstown
about 5 P.M.
By March 13 Reuben and Annie
arrived back home in Kansas. Farm work was in full
swing and from March through November, Reuben writes
of farm chores: butchering, plowing, hauling manure
and straw, planting corn, church love feasts and experience
meetings. Following are a few examples:
Sunday, March 15 (1885)Today
I attended meeting at Christian Hoffmans. We had
some visitors after meeting; Uncle Geo. Herrs, Uncle
Miltons, Sabe Hershey, Jacob Engle, and others.Tuesday,
May 5 (1885)Today we
took cattle and hogs to town and Father went along
with them to Kansas city.Friday, May 8 (1885)This
eve miss--Baumgardener poisoned herself. Today I
was planting corn.Saturday, May 30 (1885)Today
we attended Bro. Jesse Engles Love feast. The weather
was very warm for the occasion, and the attendance
Sometime in the spring of
1885 Anna Shelly Engle moved to Kansas with her parents,
Martha Engle Shelly and John Musser Engle. Anna was
Reuben’s second cousin through the Engles, and
third cousin through the Shelly family; as Martha’s
parents were David Shelly and Susannah Engle Shelly.
It was common among the Brethren in Christ at that
time to marry within the “brotherhood,” so
marriage among second and third cousins was common.
Occasionally marriages were also with first cousins.
In a characteristically terse
style, Reuben made the following entries about their
wedding and the beginning of their three month wedding
tour to Pennsylvania.
Thursday, November 26 (1885) Today
was Thanks giving I also was married to Miss Anna
S. Engle. The weather before noon cloudy after noon
both cloudy and rainy.Friday, November 27
(1885)Today noon we started
from Abilene on our wedding tour and went as far
as Valley Falls.(2) The
weather today was cloudy.
Reuben’s diary of their
trip continued through the end of 1885; Anna’s
diary began in 1886. Her note about their wedding was
written in the back of her 1886 diary.
credit: Phyllis and Bob
Anna. S. Engle
was my name but Jesse Engle (minister) made it Anna
S. Hershey on the 26th day of Nov. 1885 before a large
audiance (sic) at Father in law Hershey’s. The
house was entirely full. That is the lower part. My
is Reuben E. Hershey from Belle Springs, Dickinson
frontispiece of Anna's
1886. Click on image
to see enlargements.
Photo credit: Phyllis and
Friday, January 1 (1886)This
diary is being commenced by me, Anna S. Hershey this
day. As we are on our wedding tour this morn we find
ourselves at Aunt Lizzie (Sind) and thus where we
were all night previous. A very pleasant morn like
spring. I was working at a tidy.(3) Monday,
January 4 (1886)This
morning we (slipped) from Cousin S. Berg to Cousin
Benj. Berg. After lunch to Cousin Abe Staufers where
we stayed overnight. It rained all day. I was doing
some knitting. Rained very heavy in eve. At night
cleared off.Wednesday, January 13 (1886)This
morn. I was kniting and started a kushion with cashmere
patches. We had Apple dumpling for dinner. In the
after noon Aunt Fannie went to Uncle Elias to see
the new born niece. I was still patching was with
Aunt Mary a while.Thursday, January 28 (1886)Today
we were at home and I was making towels. Reuben hemmed
a dishcloth and helped Uncle Harry to thresh a tower
or so. In the eve Father and we went to Uncle Daniel
Wolgamuth’s eve meeting. Weather cloudy and
rainy. Stayed overnight at the same place.Monday,
February 22 (1886)Today
Aunt Fannie and I prepared to go home to Kansas.
We baked and cooked etc. This eve we packed our trunk
and box and so forth. Weather beautiful. Are starting
for home tomorrow.
Anna’s and Reuben’s Lives in
as recorded in 1886 Anna’s diary
Friday, February 26 (1886) This
morn we arrived safe home from Pa. visit. Found
folks all well and in good cheer. And we are having
a good breeze. I was sewing in the after a little.Sunday,
April 4 (1886)I wish
I was at Home. I was somplace Who knows where.
Bro David’s and Bro Epraim’s paid Father’s
a visit. We were at Union Valley S.H. meeting.
Weather Pleasent, sunshine snow melting. A diary
ought to be filled, filled.Wednesday, April
14 (1886)This A.M.
I baked pies for our flitting.(4) P.M.
helped Susan K to iron my pillowcasses. Thence
put meat in sacks. Got things ready for moving
etc. W. windy but warm.Thursday, April 15
we moved to 4 miles north of the city of Hope,
Ka. A desireable day. Mild.Friday,
April 16 (1886)Mother
and I getting the house ready to fix up. I [put]
away the things. Mother washed out the rooms. Cloudy.
part of the time. In the morn. Reuben and I planted
the early cabbage, and put away our meat.Thursday,
May 13 (1886)Today
I ironed in the morning. Reuben churned. P.M. I
fixed the butter for market and after went to Hope.
That is Reuben did. W. very close and warm.Monday,
November 22, (1886) This
A.M. I washed. P.M. I helped Reuben to skin a cow
etc. W. nice windy P.M. Wednesday,
December 1 (1886) Today
we killed two hogs. Mr. Skeller was our butcher.
Got done with every thing before so very late.
W. cloudy most all day without wind. Thursday,
December 2 (1886) Today
I fried up the beef steaks, pork steaks, and ribs
and boiled up the skins to soap of butchering,
and so on. W. getting colder still. Friday,
December 3 (1886) Today
I fried up the sausage and baked pies etc. I got
done in nice time. Also boiled another kettle full
of soap. W. cold commenced to snow toward evening. Monday,
December 7 (1886) Today
I was sewing all day made a little gown for etc.
W. clear but still cold.
included: "four strange men for dinner"; "I was putting
back the things Reuben used"; "after tea I was in garden";
"I am fixing holes for Rebuen's sack string, fifty
in number"; "we attended experience meeting at Benj.
B. Engle's"; help prepare for love feast at Bro Book's";
"finished working up some patches for a small quilt
etc."; and "boiled my soap stuff together."
Friday, December 24 (1886) Today
I baked the Christmas cakes, got the butter ready,
ironed, cleaned a rooster, and done all the Saturday
work. Stuffed a rooster after supper. Then I got
sick. W. cold.Saturday,
December 25 (1886)This
morn about two o’clock we
were blessed with an heiress. In
the morn. Reuben sent for Mother Engle. came home
between one and two o’clock. P.M. Benjamin’s
were here. A pleasant Christmas. Mattie Stauffer
stayed with me till mother came. They had the roast
Several times in her diary
Anna had referred to sewing, once she referred to making
a small quilt; another time she had made a “pad," but
she didn’t specifically state she was sewing
for a baby. She also reported once she was feeling
well. But other than those statements, there were no
direct references to being pregnant.
Even though generations later
these firsthand accounts are read from different perspectives,
one cannot help but feel a connection to the past through
the struggles and labors of these farming people and
their efforts to make a living while being faithful
to their religious traditions.
The above diaries are detailed
with names of people, farm and house activities too
numerous to mention in this brief summary. It is hoped
that these accounts might encourage others to write
stories based on records, journals and letters, especially
those whose ancestors were from the period of the great
migration of 1879.
Phyllis Hershey Carlson
The earliest known
photograph of Reuben & Anna Hershey's family,
taken in 1913 in Abilene, Kansas. Anna was 50, and
Reuben was 49, that year.
row (L-R): Charles, Lynn, Engle, Rhoda
row (L-R): Elizabeth (Betty), Anna, Lois,
Hersheys immigrated to North America in 1717; the Engles
Falls, Kansas: a
journey of more than 100 miles from Abilene.
an ornamental protective covering for the back of a
chair or sofa.
moving house (originally a Scottish term)
here for lists compiled by Reuben of people and
places visited on his 1885 trip to Pennsylvania,
and on his wedding trip with Anna.