John Mertz stood only 46 inches tall and he came to America from Austria-Hungary and went to work for Barnum Circus. It is there he first met a tiny Southern bell from Mocksville, North Carolina— Miss Mariah Elizabeth Nail, who stood 36 inches.
On August 16th,1883 as they stood before the preacher to be married, he inquired if they were old enough to wed—because they were so small.
Mariah’s wedding gown is on display at the Salisbury Museum.
Around 1911 the couple retired from Circus life and settled in Salisbury, North Carolina. John was well respected in the community and worked as a clerk for T.F. Kluttz.
Mariah died of Influenza on March 7, 1922 at age 69. John died at age 85 on February the 4th, 1938.
They are both buried in Chestnut Hill Cemetery in Salisbury, NC
Pastor Mark was born on Christmas Sunday, 1955. His mother believed that any year Christmas fell on Sunday was an extra special year.
On those Christmas Sundays, his family would write down their most important memories of that year. They were recorded in one of those old composition notebooks with the black and white cover.
This year once again, Christmas fell on Sunday. Pastor Mark looked at the clock. It was only 5:00 a.m., but he was wide-awake. He quietly slipped out of bed, and did not wake his wife, Cindy, who was sleeping peacefully.
His family had all been up late last night. There was the Christmas Eve’s service, which Cindy said was Mark’s finest. Then they entertained family and friends at their home—which now included their daughter’s boyfriend—Jason—with an earring. Perhaps it was the talk of his daughter graduating from high school and going off to college, or maybe it was just that boy named Jason, but Pastor Mark had not slept well.
He slipped on his robe, went into the kitchen, and put on a pot of coffee. He then went into his office and retrieved the black and white composition book of Christmas Sundays.
When he filled his coffee cup, he sat down at the table and prayed over the words he would write for this year. The first event that entered his head was the death of Bin Laden. His heart was heavy as he reflected over the past year of terrorist attacks and the world’s political affairs. “Is there nothing good to report?” he whispered to himself.
Picking up his pencil he thumbed through the book until he found the first blank page. He entered: Christmas Sunday, 2011. For some time he looked at the yellowing page with the thin blue lines, before he began to turn back the pages.
Most of the early pages were in his mother’s handwriting. She had written flowery notes and short stories, which all reflected her gentle and loving heart. There were a few brief entries from his father, and later came the childish handwriting of he and his sister.
Recorded in the book were his birth in 1955 and his sister Emma’s in 1966. 1977 represented the year he graduated from college, and 1983 noted his graduation from seminary.
The event for 1988 was his marriage to Cindy and 1994 was the year their daughter Jennifer was born.
The year 2000 was a tear stained page in his mother’s handwriting. Below she had carefully pasted his father’s obituary.
The last entry was in 2005 and he recognized his own handwriting. Below he had carefully pasted his mother’s obituary.
His eyes began to water. This was not just a book of random years, or a collection of Christmas Sundays. They had all been years worthy of remembrance.
He returned to the blank page and entitled it: “The death of Bin Laden.”
He stared at the words he had written. Unlike his mother’s gentle words, the words seemed harsh and unkind. In 2000 when his mother made her entry, did she know it would be her last? What if 2011 would be his last? Would this be the story he wanted his daughter to read, or perhaps his grandchildren. He thought once more of that awkward young man who had sat next to his daughter last night. He chuckled, “I’ll put this away and think on it later,” he said aloud.
He dressed for church, and left a short note for his wife. “Gone to church early. Much to do before the service. I will meet you at church. Merry Christmas, Mark.”
Shortly, Cindy awoke and found the note. She had been married to Mark long enough to know that if he had something on his mind, even Christmas morning would not detain him. “We will just open gifts after lunch this year,” she thought smiling.
When Pastor Mark entered his church office he saw a small box with a card attached sitting on his desk. He glanced at the card, thinking it must be a little gift from a church member. He would open it once he turned on the Christmas lights.
He walked out into the dimly lit hall, but something about the handwriting seemed familiar. He walked back to his office and opened the card to read these words.
Christmas Eve, 2011 Dear Pastor Mark, At age 10 years, I was among the children that came to decorate the church for Christmas. Some of the children decorated the tree, others wrapped the garland, but I was assigned to set up the nativity scene. I carefully unwrapped the ceramic figurines and placed them around the small wooden stable. The last of which was the Baby Jesus. He was so smooth and sweet and I wanted him for myself. When the decorating was completed, all the mothers and children stood back to admire. Then at once I heard them gasp, “Where is the Baby Jesus?” As they looked through the piles of boxes, I knew they would not find him, because he was safely hidden in my pocket. I never thought that little figurine would even be missed, but my own mother was nearly in tears. I recall her fashioning a new Baby Jesus out of clay. The new Baby Jesus did not even have a nose, he was too large, and was clearly a misfit. However, every year since, he has shown up in that manger as a reminder of my secret crime. Last night I showed the Baby Jesus to my boyfriend, and asked him what I should do. This was his answer: The Christ Child belongs to everyone, not just to you. If you keep him hidden in a box or locked up in your heart then others may not have the opportunity to know him.” So Daddy, I think it is time I return the Baby Jesus to his rightful place…
Pastor Mark’s eyes were so filled with tears that he could barely see his daughter’s signature on the card. Gingerly he removed the tiny figurine, went straight to the sanctuary, and placed it in the manger. He then knelt down at the altar and prayed, “Dear God forgive me for misjudging a young man named—Jason.”
He arose with a new joy in his heart. He now knew the story he would record in that little composition book with the black and white cover.
Books by Nancy B. Brewer: www.nancybbrewer.com and Amazon
Today I taught a rock painting class for the ladies of “Chapel by the Sea” in North Myrtle Beach, SC. The ladies are going to paint the rocks, hide them with a message for the finder to visit their church. It was a blessed day.
History: After the Civil War Captain John Milton Odell built this mansion which stands on the corner of Buffalo and Union Street in Concord, NC. Odell was known as the “Master Mill Man” and owned and operated several cotton mills after the Civil War. He was remembered as a good businessman, a gentleman and a kind employer. He is one of the historical people who come to life in my book, “Lizzie After the War.”
For the last several years the present owners of the Odell house have turned the home into a haunted house that even Hollywood could not rival. The theatrical wonderland includes to name a few: witches, ghost, headless figures, caskets, animated figures, and ghostly images dancing in the windows. I counted at least five life-size skeleton horses, pulling carriages hosting their like families. I can’t help but wonder what Captain Odell would think? I hope he was a fan of Halloween.
If you plan to visit, please take note of the large rock that sits inside the fence closest to Buffalo Street. History has it—that Captain Odell hid behind this rock during heavy gun fire during the Civil War. Since he believed the rock had saved his life he had it moved and placed in his front yard.
(click on arrow for the reading by author: Nancy B. Brewer)
~Nancy B. Brewer
The same rain that falls on my part of the world falls on other lands. The same sunshine that shines through my window lights the home of others across the globe.
I am an American Woman. I am free to worship as I choose, go to school, chose my profession, own property, and businesses. I make the decision who I marry, and if and when, I decide to have children.
In this year of 2017 there are laws that say I must receive equal pay for equal work. I am free to dress as I please, bear arms, speak my mind, vote, hold political office and serve in the military.
I may drive a car, a truck, motorcycle, boat or even a plane. I can live alone, or travel anywhere I desire without an escort.
That sounds like freedom to me.
Yes, there have been times when I have been treated unfairly because I am a woman. However, there have been many more times that I have been given special considerations because I am a woman.
Sadly there are women and children in America who are hungry and lost. There are those that are treated unfairly, sexually assaulted, beaten and abused.
Do the people of America care? —Yes. Is it against the law in America? —Yes.
On this same planet, where the sun shines and the rain flows there are women not so fortune as their American sisters. They and their children are less than second-class citizens. In those lands the same sun sets, but the sleepers have no dreams.
A young girl does not choose a husband or the number of children she wishes to bear. She is considered property and those things are chosen for her.
Not only is it forbidden for her to expose her body, she must bury her soul and keep her thoughts and ideas to herself.
Women and girls are beaten, stoned, and even beheaded for acts as simple as going shopping alone. They are sold into slavery, as child brides, and many must submit to painful genital mutilations.
Does anyone care?—No. It is the law of their land!
Now I say to the thousands of women in America who are marching across our great nation in protest of our goverment. Which country do you wish to live in?
If you must march, throw down your selfish batons and parade for our sisters that live in endless suffering and bondage, not only here in our country, but across the horizons.
Strive to make this world a better place for all. Pave the roads for future generations to enjoy the humble hand of kindness.
I pray that our generation not be remembered as the destroyers of unity and patriotism.
Look at the examples our children view: Hollywood royalty and music superstars shouting vulgarity and profanity with threats against our president and our country. Are they above the law? Shall we call them Americans?
Is it too much to ask that our public streets be filled with a spirit of peace and not protest?
I know that I am not alone when I say: I will not hand over my right to decency to the likes of some Madonna or Ashley Judd
Ladies be prepared to fight—The American Woman is watching
Great night at the seafood festival in Myrtle Beach, SC. Our friend Doug Winstead really rocks, so I decided to paint his portrait on a rock. Don’t miss a chance to see the Shakers. You will be in for a good time of happy entertainment.
It is easy to see why this beautiful historical little town is the perfect place for romance and perhaps a few ghost. My walking tour will inspire you in the pages of “A Coastal Ghost” now in print and ebook- ORDER here.