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Sunday, February 3, 2008

Born in the North; Raised in the South

I consider myself a Southern girl, which is a little funny considering I was born a Hoosier and none of my ancestors have distinct Southern ties.
Well, there is that one story.......... In the post below you will read about George and Mary Bender. They married in PA in 1856, and lived over the state line in Maryland. A tale told me by my grandfather is that George served during the Civil War, but that the place they lived was frequented by armies of both sides. (I have verified the fact that border towns of PA/MD were hotbeds of North/South tensions.) Supposedly, Mary Binkley Bender would hang the stars and stripes when the Northern army was in town, and the Rebel Jack when the Confederates made an appearance. It was further told to me that George was captured and kept in a prison camp. When Ulysses S. Grant came to town, Mary Bender fed him a chicken dinner and asked if he could arrange her husband's release. Apparently he did, for in the spring the family saw someone sitting in the cherry tree, gorging on the budding fruit. It was George, ravenous from his prison stay, home again.
Maybe true, maybe picked up a little fancy as it passed down through the generations, but could be it explains why I feel I'm a part of both, why I love North and South, my great American heritage -- proud pioneers and settlers, all.
My family on both sides are from northern states, but I was reared in the cradle of the South, giving me the distinct feeling that I am a daughter of them both.
When I was very young, I played in the sand hills of Central Florida where we lived. I did most of my growing up in the lolling countryside of Middle Tennessee. We spent our first pastorate in the gentle south of Alabama. Our 3rd parish was near the balmy horse country of Ocala, Florida. I had 5 great years of college in Cincinnati, Ohio. We have pastored in the prairies of mid-western Indiana and in the Great Lakes regions of Ohio. As you can see, my North/South split self has had ample opportunity to taste both parts of our great country.
I love the unsurpassed goodness of Southern pork BBQ. I like the tart crunch of sweet corn from an Indiana field.
I relish the snowy landscape of the northern winters. I adore the sweet fragrance of magnolia leaves on a warm Southern evening.
I like Southern accents. I like Northern breads. I like Southern homecomings. I like Northern harvest festivals.
I identify with the rich pride of the South. I admire the hearty spirit of the North.
To me, home and family is a potpourri. An aromatic blend of faces, places, traditions and souls. I will grow old, still cherishing my place and the sense of belonging God has given me. And I hope to pass that on to those who come after me.
Charles and Myrtle (Stewart) Bender -- Wedding Day, July 4, 1908. (My paternal great-grandparents)
Charles and Myrtle in their sunset years on the farm in Michigan.

My grandparents, James and Thelma Bender, with his sister Juanita and mother Myrtle. The Bender Evangelistic Party in the 1930's -- singers and preachers.

The Bender Trio -- 1958. My dad, in the middle, with his brother and sister.

My dedication in Shirley, Indiana -- 1970. (Guess I was born to marry a preacher -- the sign over my grandfather's shoulder says "Go, fill My house." Yep, that's destiny!)


  1. I love the pictures. I remember the accordions. My mother was one of those accomplished musicians on the organ box.

  2. How interesting! I love hearing about people's history!! Things are going well here. I do believe that we are settled in!! I have been enjoying being at home!! God has been so good to us!!

  3. I am glad that you are starting the Pastor's Wife Connection blog (I tried to leave a comment on there, but was unable to). I have always enjoyed the newsletters that you have sent out in the past. Thank you for inviting me to view. I have also enjoyed looking at your other blogs that you have.

    I am married to Lizzy's Stetler's brother and we are in our first pastorate. We have been here almost 5 years this coming June. I love our ministry, but can be a bit overwhelming and challenging at times. Your newsletters have always been an encouragement to me and I look forward to reading more on your blog.

    Thank You!
    Leora Schenck

  4. What a beautiful post. I enjoyed taking a peek into your family history. The story of the chicken dinner is priceless. I also want to say that I appreciate your stand on the political issues. I encouraged Chris and Esther to check out your opinions. You have a way of saying what I am feeling in my heart.

  5. Valorie,
    Thanks for the nice comment on my blog! It was nice hearing from you!
    I enjoyed this post about your life, and the neat pics too! I feel the same way. I was born in Ohio, but moved to Tenn. when I was just 6 months old, and lived in TN, SC, and LA for more years then in the I claim that I'm a Southern belle. HA! I love both the North and the South, and having lived in AZ for 5 years...the West too! =D

    Looking forward to visiting with all of my "Fellow bloggers"...oops! I mean "Lady bloggers" at IHC, Lord willing! =)

    Love, Heather


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