Last night as the weather cleared out completely, I decided to go for another "test drive".
I can see my friends here rolling their eyes and saying to themselves, "There she goes again." This is true and I’m going to go off again in just a little bit. This is my last week of summer break and I’m on my own today and this evening. I’m going to take advantage of it!
Anyway, I found myself cruising through the little town of Northfield. If you have any interest in the history of the American Old West in the 19th century, the name Northfield may ring a bell. Perhaps not. However, if I add the name Jesse James to it, your ears may perk up just a bit.
Northfield is the site of what became known as "The Great Northfield Bank Robbery". It was the last attempted robbery by the James-Younger Gang on September 7, 1876 at 2:00 p.m. Three outlaws entered the bank while eight stood on guard outside. They thought this was going to be easy. What they hadn’t bargained for was a part time bank teller named Joseph Lee Heywood.
According to witnesses who were in the bank, Heywood was ordered to open up the safe which was located in the vault. He refused. One of the outlaws started to go into the vault and Heywood attempted to close the vault door but failed. He did however manage to injury the outlaw. Another outlaw knocked Heywood to the floor with his pistol butt.
One of the outlaws pulled out his pocket knife and held it to Heywood’s throat, threatening to slit it if he didn’t open the safe. Heywood replied the outlaw would have to slit his throat because he could not open the safe.
The outlaw made a gash in Heywood throat, dragged him to his feet, pointed a gun at him and ordered him to open the safe. Bleeding with a gun pointed at his head, Heywood made a decision. He would not violate that which was entrusted to him to protect. He told the outlaws there was a chronometer on the safe. It could not be opened.
There was a chronometer but it hadn’t been set yet and Heywood knew it. All they would have had to have done was try the door and grab the $12,000 contained within the safe. Sources tell me that $12,000 in 1876 would be worth over $1,000,000.00 today.
During this encounter, one of the bank employees managed to escape and quickly alerted the townspeople who immediately began to fight back. A gun fight ensued killing two gang members who were standing guard and wounding others.
Enraged the outlaws inside the bank shot Heywood in the head and grabbed what money they had gotten from the drawer... $26.70. They noticed Heywood attempting to stand and fired another shot at his head. Of the eight outlaws who went into Northfield, two were killed and four were captured a short time later. Only Frank and Jesse James escaped.
After Heywood’s death, Heywood was named the hero of Northfield. A title held until this day...nearly 133 years later. Carleton College, with whom he was affliated, installed a memory plaque which reads: A man modest, true, gentle; diligent in business; conscientious in duty; a citizen benevolent and honorable; towards God reverent and loyal; who, while defending his trust as a bank officer, fearlessly met death at the hands of armed robbers, in Northfield, Sept. 7, 1876. This tablet is inscribed by his friends as a tribute to heroic fidelity. ESTO FIDELIS USQUE AD MORTEM. (Faithful unto Death.)
On September 12, 1876, at Heywood’s funeral, the Reverend Delavan Levant Leonard said In God's good providence we are permitted to gaze upon the charming spectacle, alas, too seldom seen, and when seen, too seldom considered, of the walk and conversation of a good man. Here was one thoroughly Christian in all his instincts and ambitions and practices - one of the pure in heart, with vision for unseen things, and who walked by faith; who lived not for himself, but for others; who knew not how to be base, or dishonorable, or mean; knew not how to slight his work, or leave it half undone, or leave it for others to do; knew not how to prove false to his truth, or to flee from his post of duty; but who did know how to be faithful and true, utterly careless of the cost. Mr. Heywood was beyond most men modest and timid. He did not even seem to know that he was lovable and well beloved, and was held in high esteem by all. He courted no praise, and sought no reward. Honors must come to him unsought if they were to come at all. He would be easily content to toil on, out of sight and with services unrecognized, but in every transaction must be conscientious through and through, and do each hour to the full duties of the hour. Yes, something such a one as this walked our streets, entered our homes, worshiped in our assemblies, and bore his share of our public burdens. And so dull is human appreciation, that had he ended his days after the ordinary fashion of humanity, it is much to be feared his worth had never been widely known. We shall reread the record he has made with sharpened vision. Besides, some of the virtues in which he excelled, such as integrity, moral courage, unflinching steadfastness in pursuing the right, in the tragic circumstances surrounding the close of his life, found not only their supreme test, but their sublime climax as well. The charm lies in the perfect harmony existing between the acts of the last hour and the conduct of all the years that went before.
As I thought about the story of Joseph Lee Heywood I could not help but wonder about myself. God has entrusted me to be a light in this world for Him. God has entrusted me to be His hands and feet in this world. God has entrusted me to share the Good News and make an impact for Christ in my world. I am entrusted with treasure far greater than that which Joseph Lee Heywood died protecting. He was faithful unto death fulfilling his commission. Will I be faithful unto death fulfilling mine?
Stirring words K, stirring words.
Truly if a person is willing to lay down his life to carry out his job, why can't we lay down our lives to serve God and each other? Why is it that in our crazy self centered world, the only one who is important is ME? Why is it that a word like "integrity" is considered a dirty word in most people's minds? Why is it that one would have to hunt high and low to find even ONE Lee Haywood today?
History if full of lessons if we will only take the time to learn them. The lesson presented here is truly awesome and needed to be heard in our day and time.
Thanks for making the trip and relating what you discovered with us.
K, my response to your blog is, we cannot wait till our final death, it has to be a daily dying to self for Christ. If we cannot die to self daily, how can we die for Christ at the end?
We cannot be channels of blessing
If our lives are not free from known sin
We will barriers be and a hindrance
To those we are trying to win.
Make me a channel of blessing today.
Make me a channel of blessing I pray
My life possessing, my service blessing
Make me a channel of blessing today.
by Harper G Smyth
[quote]If we cannot die to self daily, how can we die for Christ at the end?[/quote] This is so true PTL. It is something we must do daily...
At Joseph Lee Heywood's funeral it was said: [quote]The charm lies in the perfect harmony existing between the acts of the last hour and the conduct of all the years that went before. [/quote] From what I've discovered, people were not surprised at his actions. It was what they expected him to do...because he had lived that sort of life.
May we all willingly die to ourselves daily so that we might live for Him!
Great post! Very thought provoking. :wink:
Yup, great people come from Minnesota!
I have seen this scene on the History channel but I had no idea it was in Minnesota! Although hubby claims they did say it was in Northfield, Minnesota. (I must have missed that part).
"It was what they expected him to do...because he had lived that sort of life."
This is the kinda reputation all God's children should have.
wow K that was awesome. I had seen it also on the History channel but you made it rememberable in a servants way rather than a violent way. And the servants role brings peace and joy and glorifies God. Amen.
K, you prove again that God can use any circumstance or witness, good or bad, to help us grow as a person and as a Christian if we are just willing to let Him!
Today, as most days, there are men and women still dying for Christ around the world. What we each need to ask ourselves - and do some true soul-searching to find the answer - is if we truly would be willing to die for our faith in Jesus Christ?
K, I know this made me do stop and really take a long look at myself and how I view my faith, and I thank you for that. Keep up the good work! -I know the Lord is proud of you and so am I.