So often when we think of immigrants coming to the US in the 19th century and early 20th century, we get the image of penniless people living in crowded tenements in the slums of New York City. Nothing could be further from the truth in the case of my grandmother's grandparents. No, they weren't wealthy but Danish emigration records indicate that their final destination was Story County, Iowa... right in the heartland of central Iowa's fertile corn belt. It's good land. It is very good land as evidenced even today.
There was no scrimping and saving for years to buy land. They purchased farmland near town which is still being farmed today and did quite well actually. In fact, the house where my mother was born was so large that later owners divided the house and moved one section into town where it is still a residence today. The other section remained on the farm and the current owners reside in it.
Upon their deaths, the land was divided amongst their surviving children; my great-grandmother, two of her sisters and a brother. Things were going well... until the Great Depression. By WWII, the property was gone. My grandparents moved from their lovely home into a tiny house on the edge of a neighboring town with no electricity or indoor plumbing. The only good thing about this place was it had space for a large garden which was critical when you had 10 people to feed!
Like most people who raised a family during the depression years, my grandmother was a master at taking a little and making it go a long way!
These habits followed her for the rest of her life. Foil, plastic bags and any container was carefully washed, dried and stored to be reused. Every bit of food was saved. My grandmother was an artist when it came to making a delicious and satisfying meal from the contents of what you thought were pretty much empty cupboards, refrigerators and freezers.
In my current times of needing to economize, I am discovering that I must have paid a lot more attention to what my grandmother was doing than what I thought. My grocery budget has been stretching far more than I could have ever imagined! With a little thought and effort, you can indeed make a little go along way.
Unfortunately, when people become more "frugal", they often fall victim to something else. They can become a miser. Always afraid that they might not have enough, they are extremely reluctant to let anything go out of their hand... unless it absolutely must and even then, they complain about it. This person only gives if they feel like they have no choice but to release their money. They may occasionally do charitable giving but it is only because they feel some sort of social pressure to do so and even as they give... they complain in their hearts. God will not bless such giving nor will He bless those who give in order to get something in return.
Oh, I am not saying those people may not look like they are blessed. I suspect that many of them appear to be but I also believe those so-called blessings are not from God. There is no better way for the enemy to keep people offering up rejected sacrifices to God than to shower them with "imitation blessings"! I think we need to think about that and carefully examine our motives for giving!
My grandmother never lost her heart for people nor her desire to serve. No one was ever turned from her table. She worked tirelessly to try to be able to set aside something... anything... for God. To have nothing to give was her greatest sorrow... so in some miraculous way, God always enabled her to give.
She had nothing of value when she died except a handicapped van God had miraculously provided for her when she became wheel-chair bound in her 90's. After the loss of the family farm, she never owned real estate again. Indeed, the last time she did not live under someone else's roof was in the late 1950's. She spent nearly half a century living here and there with other people. However, God always met her needs and provided her with the means to give to others; not just financially but through the work of her hands as well.
To me, I believe that she was the richest person I have ever known.
I really needed a feel good blog, and you have provided it. thank you
love this!My grandmother never lost her heart for people nor her desire to serve. No one was ever turned from her table. She worked tirelessly to try to be able to set aside something... anything... for God. To have nothing to give was her greatest sorrow... so in some miraculous way, God always enabled her to give. It says a lot about who your grandmother was and who are our God is! You were very blessed to have a grandmother like her, and i hope that someday your grandchildren will feel same way about you... Robin
I have no recent ancestors who came here. All of mine came before the Civil War. My husband's line is very different. Three of his grandparents were immigrants, 1 from Germany as a small boy with his family and 2 Swedish grandparents. The 4th line, the English line, came to work in the iron and copper mines of the UP in 1860. A hard working group of miners they were, the Cornish miners from England.
Thanks for this blog.
My great great grandparents on my mom's side were immigrants from Scotland who came into Nebraska and farmed. During the land run they moved to Oklahoma and founded a town and owned the general store, hotel, livery, ice house, brick factory, and several homes. Obviously they were not poor either. However, after many generations of very large families any wealth they had diminished greatly. The stories my grandmother used to tell me about living through the depression and WWII have always inspired me though. They used to drive every Sunday to see her parents and her mom would kill a chicken for them to take home and give them eggs and produce from the garden since they lived in the city and didn't have land. Somehow between that chicken and eggs and the fish my grandfather caught, they would make it through the week. I still have her recipes and some of the things are made with little more than a couple of eggs, a splash of sugar, and a little flour thrown together ... and they taste great!!