|I never see my name on pretty
pins or stationary in stores,|
so I was thrilled to see it on this sign in Paradise, PA
I became a true fan of widows when I found out about the woman who's name I share.
You probably noticed my first name is unusual, right? It was actually one of my great-grandmothers' maiden names, and as a little girl I'd heard a family legend that in early American history a lady from France named Madame Ferree received some land from William Penn.
So when I was freshly widowed with a little spare time on my hands, I did some research. I found out that Madame Ferree was more than a legend, she was a pretty amazing woman! Her real name was Mary or Marie, and she and her husband, Daniel, were wealthy silk merchants in France in the 1600's. They were also Huguenots (a form of Calvinist Protestant Christianity)---a dangerous label when religious freedom in France was revoked in 1685. Religious persecution flamed and the Daniel Ferree family fled for their lives to the Rhine Valley of Germany.
Along the way they adopted a boy who’s parents had been murdered for their faith. In Germany Palatine their youngest son was born, becoming the 7th child in the family of refugees.
But guess what happened next: Mary Ferree’s husband died. She was a widow, too, like me! Like you! Except I didn't have 7 children, nor was I persecuted and running for my life.
After her husbands death, Mary Ferree and the children took a remarkable journey to Holland, and then to England. There, "by chance" she met William Penn and Queen Anne, who gave her a land grant and outfitting to The New World! Then she sailed for eleven weeks across the Atlantic to arrive in New York in 1710. I can't imagine what crossing the Atlantic must have been like! No electricity or running water on board!
|This is a commemorative plate
the welcome Mary Ferree received in 1712
from Tanawa, chief of the Paquaw Indians.
From Philadelphia she continued west for another 50 miles, met peaceful Indians, lodged in the wigwams they offered, and declared the countryside to be Paradise, a word which generations later thought fitting to name the village of Paradise, Pennsylvania.
I was stunned by this my ancestor, her struggles, her faith, her life—and especially all she had accomplished as a widow! I’m not sure I could make it anywhere without a car, my cell phone, or a nice warm bed at night!
But what's most important is that you know you have such a role model, too. Here's where you may find her-- or him:
- your family tree—maybe your mother, or an aunt, or grandma
- a friend from your past---like a classmate, or a teacher, nurse or
- Scripture--is there a favorite Bible character you can really relate to?
Don't you just love this verse? I thank the Lord for everything "that was written in the past," and the people who wrote and lived it. God has given their stories to us for our endurance, encouragement and hope. Who are your role models today? I'd love to hear your stories!