Before My Time is about the ancestry and extended family of my four grandparents: John Samuel Krentz (Indiana/North Dakota), Margreta Tjode Hedwig (Gertie) Buss (North Dakota), Rosmer Pettis Kerr (Pennsylvania/Michigan), and Evelyn Elvina Hauer (Michigan), and other topics in genealogy and family history.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Poem by John Cotton

[To my Reverend Dear Brother, Mr. Samuel Stone, Teacher of the Church at Hartford. 1652.]

How well, dear Brother, art thou called Stone?
As sometimes Christ did Simon Cephas own.
A Stone for solid firmness fit to rear
A part in Zion's wall, and it upbear.
Like Stone of Bohan, bounds fit to describe
'Twixt Church and Church, as that 'twixt tribe and tribe.
Like Samuel's Stone, erst Eben-Ezer hight,
To tell the Lord hath helped us with his might.
Like Stone in David's sling, the head to wound
Of that huge Giant-Church, so far renowned,
Hight the Church Catholic Ĺ“cumenical,
Or at the lowest compass National;
Yet Politic Visible, and of such a fashion
As may or rule a world or rule a nation.
Which though it be cried up unto the Skies
By Philistines and Israelites likewise,
Yet seems to me to be too near akin
Unto the Kingdom of the Man of sin.
In frame, and state, and constitution,
Like to the first beast in the Revelation
Which was as large as Roman empire wide,
And ruled Rome, and all the world beside.
Go on, good Brother, gird thy sword with might,
Fight the Lord's battles, plead his Church's right.
To Brother Hooker thou art next akin,
By office-right thou must his pledge redeem.
Take thou the double portion of his spirit,
Run on his race, and then his crown inherit.
Now is the time when Church is militant,
Time hast'neth fast when it shall be triumphant.

The Reverend Samuel Stone was my ninth great-grandfather.


Stop by West in New England on November 25th, Thanksgiving day, when the entries in Bill West's Second Great American Local Poem And Song Genealogy Challenge will be posted. I've read a few of the entries already, and this year's event promises to be as awesome as last year's.


Bill West said...

Hi T.K.,
Wow, you know, there's been a wonderful bunch of poems entered this year, and this is another.

Yes, I know you're late, but I love a good poem! Thanks for articipating!

Judith Richards Shubert said...

Very impressive, T.K.! Your 9th gr-grandfather must have been a very worthy man to deserve such praise. I enjoyed it.

Kathleen Brandt, Professional Genealogist said...

Thanks for sharing this posts. For some reason I didn't expect it to be so witty. But great references.

T.K. said...

The Reverend Stone sure had his supporters, Judith. Whenever I try to decipher Puritan poetry, though, I am reminded that the Puritans actually did have a sense of humor which sometimes was given vent in their verse. A Puritan scholar could probably confirm whether or not there is an element of tongue-in-cheek in this one. My understanding is that Cotton, Hooker and Stone were united in their rebellion against the Church of England, but Hooker and Stone left Cotton's Massachusetts and established their community at Hartford over a political difference with Cotton (Hooker and Stone being the more liberal about who should be permitted to vote). If this verse was written in 1652, then many years had passed since that split. Was the split a sore spot, or had they just agreed to disagree? I think the latter, but I haven't had time yet to dig deeper for more details on that. Maybe someone who reads this will know the answer and leave us a comment.

T.K. said...

Hi Kathleen, thanks for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed the references. I sure learn a lot from participating in Bill's Local Poem Challenge!

Bill West said...

I'm descended from a Simon Stone so
perhaps we are related. This is such a great example of early New England
poetry and culture.

Thanks for contributing to the Challenge!

T.K. said...

Thanks for hosting it, possible-cousin Bill. The Poem Challenge is one of the all-time best ideas in our little corner of the blogosphere!

Judith Richards Shubert said...

T.K., rereading it with your historical background of the 3 gentlemen gives me a better understanding of the poem. I can see where your 3rd scenario is more likely. Thanks. It's a little hard to understand.

Nancy said...

T.K., when you DO dig deeper, I hope you'll share what you find with us and make a link back to this poem. There aren't many folks who have ancestors memorialized in poems!

T.K. said...

Hard to understand? You're tellin' me, Judith! It's hard to imagine Puritans as anything but dour, chilly people with gnarly hands from their manual labors. I have to remind myself that they didn't have Seinfeld reruns to come home to when their workday was done, and there was probably a fireplace to curl up by, and those peeps had to amuse themselves somehow! I've often amused myself by writing silly stuff that makes me laugh out loud--I don't know why it's so hard to picture them doing the same.

T.K. said...

O!, Nancy! Dost thou think my days are free
To spend researching ancient poetry?
Couplets of pentameter that rhyme,
Iambic tempo, references from time
So long gone by? Archaic happenstance
Enveiled in verbiage obsolete? Perchance
Thou thinkest I have naught but this to do:
To figure out this verse, then 'splain to you
What Reverend Grandpa Stone has really gotten
All versified from his old friend, John Cotton.
And yet, no matter how much I opine,
John's meaning still could differ much from mine.
All I might do is hazard just a guess;
With that, I simply haven't time to mess!

Barbara Poole said...

I'm so glad I waited to respond, otherwise I would have missed your creative poem. On another note, I enjoyed "In Praise of Master Stone," I think we will all be looking for a poem to enter next year, esp. after seeing so many good ones like yours.

T.K. said...

Thanks, Barbara. Seems like ages since I've written anything silly. I'm still laughin' about this one! Really, I gotta do more of that!

T.K. said...

In the process of doing something else today, I happened upon the following regarding John Cotton. It sheds some light on what kind of guy he was, and supports my guess that he was still on friendly terms with Hooker and Stone even though they'd gone separate ways, church-wise.

"1652: This year that blessed servant of God, Mr. John Cotton, died. He was sometimes preacher of God's word at Boston, in Lincolnshire, and from thence came over into New England, in the year 1633, and was chosen teacher of the first church of Christ at Boston. (Of Mr. Cotton's life, Mr. Norton hath penned a book, whereunto I refer the reader for more full relation of the same.) For which function and office he was greatly enriched with gifts and abilities, being an able expounder and faithful applier of the word of God; furnished also with wisdom and prudence to go before the church, in the ordering of the affairs thereof; endowed also with meekness of spirit, whereby he was fitted to compose such differences as did at any time arise amongst them. He was very patient also in respect unto personal wrongs and injuries done unto himself, yea, towards his sharpest antagonists. An influence of good, not only flowed from him unto the, church over whom he was set, but also into all the churches in New England, as necessity required. About the time of his sickness, there appeared in the heavens, over New England, a comet, giving a dim light; and so waxed dimmer and dimmer, until it became quite extinct and went out; which time of its being extinct, was soon after the time of the period of his life: it being a very signal testimony, that God had then removed a bright star, a burning and a shining light out of the heaven of his church here, unto celestial glory above. He was buried at Boston, in New England, with great honor and lamentation, in the year above written."

Morton, Nathaniel, William Bradford, Thomas Prince, and Edward Winslow. New-England's Memorial. Boston: Congregational Board of Publication, 1855.

Blog Archive


Our Family in Books: A Bibliography

  • My Ancestors in Books (a library of resources and notes pertaining to Reverend Samuel Stone, Major General Robert Sedgwick, Elder John Crandall, and other early Americans in the forest where my family tree was grown)
  • The Zahnisers: A History of the Family in America by Kate M. Zahniser and Charles Reed Zahniser (Mercer, Pa. 1906)
  • History of St. James Lutheran Church [full title: A little of this and a little of that in the 141 year (1861-2002) History of St. James Lutheran Church, Reynolds Indiana] by Harold B. Dodge, published at Reynolds, Indiana, 2002; 170 pages.
  • Lisbon, North Dakota 1880-2005 Quasuicentennial, published at Lisbon, North Dakota in 2005; 391 pages.
  • The Paschen and Redd Families of Cass County, Indiana by Alfred Paschen, c. 2005 (Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD); 322 pages.
  • Sheldon Community History: Sheldon Centennial 1881-1981, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 1981; 376 pages.
  • Sheldon, North Dakota 1881-2006 - 125th Anniversary: The Queen of the Prairie, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 2006; 498 pages.
  • A Standard History of White County, Indiana, written under the supervision of W.H. Hamelle, c. 1915 (The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York).
  • The Roots of Coventry, Connecticut by Betty Brook Messier and Janet Sutherland Aronson, c. 1987 (Coventry 275th Anniversary Committee, Coventry, CT); 206 pages.
  • "Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and His Descendants" by John Cortland Crandall; New Woodstock, New York, 1949; 797 pages.
  • "The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island." Nellie (Willard) Johnson, Pd.B.: H & L Creations, LLC.

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