Heroes are courageous. That’s part of what makes them heroic. In JFK’s book Profiles in Courage, he tells of elected officials who displayed courage in the face of opposition. You can contrast that with courage on the battlefield. Both can change the course of history and alter the face of the world. There’s another kind of courage and it’s quiet and personal. It may only impact a few persons, or perhaps a family. Here’s a story about that kind of courage and of a hero.
Leon, my father-in-law, lives across the road from a woodlot. Just east of that woodlot is what used to be the northwest corner of his great grandparents’ farm. That farm was the realization of a desire for a better life.
George and Mary Yallup came from Norfolk, England. George was a farm hand, but he longed for a better situation for his family. George had married Mary Baxter in 1845, and now they had three daughters. Mary was pregnant again in 1851, that’s when George left to find and prepare a place in America for his family. He found that place in Bingham Twp, Clinton Co, Michigan. It took three years to prepare a home for his wife and daughters (now four of them). It took courage for George to leave England and come to Michigan, which had only been a state for 14 years.
I think it took greater courage for Mary to stay in England. The 1851 England census shows her living in Norfolk, England. She is shown as the head of her household, a pauper living with her three daughters: Sarah (age 5), Mary (age 2) and Hannah (age 1 and Leon’s maternal grandmother). The fourth daughter, Maria, came along soon after. Perhaps you can imagine the difficulties this brave woman faced raising her family alone. And later (about 1854), she would make the difficult crossing by ship with four young daughters to the US and from there across land to Michigan.
George died in 1895. Here’s a portion of his obituary, which was written at that time:
“The subject of this sketch, Mr. George Yallup, was born in Norfolk, England, in the year 1819, and grew to manhood in the land of his birth. On August 14th, 1845, he was united in marriage to Mary Baxter and together they have toiled for over a half a century. Six years after his marriage the husband started for this county in search of a home for himself and family. After about three years of toil and struggle he succeeded in obtaining: a place in the wilderness of Michigan he could call his own, and on which he has spent the remainder of his days. The wife and mother were sent for and with her four small children started on what was then a perilous journey. Shipwrecks and disaster followed, but out of all it pleased the Lord to deliver them. Great however, must have been the anxiety of the husband and father who, for three long weeks after he had expected to meet them, must watch and wait alone with no tidings of his lost family.”
I salute Mary Baxter Yallup for her courage, determination and faith. Qualities I see in her great great granddaughter, my wife, Sylvia.
Isaiah 50:7 “Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.”
Who are the heroes in your family?