And twas the house where He dwelt — at least for a while — and I say verily unto thee that indeed it was His House, the House of our Ogg.
Now, the thing is, I can make a somewhat educated guess that the particular ancestor I’m talking about, here, one of my 4x-great-grandfathers who was named John Ogg, that he *might* — and I emphasize the “might” — have been willing to enjoy a chuckle with me on the first arguably blasphemous play on words in this post’s title, and more probably, even, with the second one, the sub-head under the picture. But I think it’s safe to say any smile he *might* have had at that point most likely woulda colored itself serious when I started willy-nilly carrying on in my punning riffery by capitalizing the words “he” and “his”. The reason is because, as we know, of course, that’s the way that GOD is referred to in the Bible. And gr-gr-gr-gr-grampa John Ogg would’ve most likely had no time whatsoever for making such a profane so-called joke by equating himself in that manner with the Almighty (which is totally what I was doing for the sake of milking the amusing-but-maybe-not-worth-all-of-it word-play).
The reason that I speculate he wouldn’t be amused by my jocular dispensation of religious jokery is that he was a minister of what most of us would consider a very strict and genuinely pious religious order. He was the main dude, religious-leadership-wise, for his community and headed the local congregation — bishop is what they actually called him — preaching the Good Word within a sect that called themselves the Church of the Bretheren, and others knew as Dunkards. Called “Dunkards” because they believed in baptism by total immersion — being dunked — in water, they were a somewhat less well-known offshoot of the same Anabaptist movement that included the Amish and Mennonite (and Hutterite and Moravians). The Anabaptist thing emerged in west and southwestern Germany, (this groups started out in Schwarzenau, see map), northwestern Switzerland and eastern France in the 15 and 1600s as a very observant form of Protestantism, believing they were getting closer to following what Jesus had actually taught. (And it should be noted that they were not messing around and at least in certain regards were admirable in that they were not hypocrites on the subject of compassion and following the path ascribed to Jesus of peace. All the groups just named, though they obviously had their differences, remained on the same ground with regard to violence, aggression and their societally enshrined metastasized child: war, in that they simply didn’t and wouldn’t go there. During the Civil War, for instance, the Confederacy allowed them not to fight but only if they’d pay a sub (sort of defeating the purpose of non-participation; I’m sure they were sorrowful). In the North they frequently had to pay fines for being conscientious objectors. Even back in the Revolution, they didn’t fight. However, one among my ancestors still is considered an official Patriot in the Revolutionary effort (enabling DAR and SAR membership) because, though he wouldn’t take up arms, as his religious beliefs inclined him, he did help by supplying blankets and such to the freezing troops under General Washington at Valley Forge.)
Indeed, John Ogg’s wife and his even more so his daughter-in-law were the daughters and granddaughters etc of well-known Amish families. The interpenetrating communities were sort of in pods in Pennsylvania (Lancaster & Berks & Somerset Counties), northern Virginia and western Maryland, and hailed from Germany and the German areas of Switzerland. One famous progenitor of John Ogg’s daughter in law named Jacob Hochstetler turns out to have been born, most likely, in what today is France. He also was a peer and collaborator with Jakob Ammann; (who? most of you might ask…) Herr Ammann was the preacher and thinker who spearheaded the whole movement that ended up being named after him: Amish. In other words, the Oggs were wrapped up real tight with what might be loosely thought of as the “royals” or at least as the inner circle of the very serious religious movement and community of which they were an integral part.
And these folks took their particular slant on the sacred and respect for the Word of God, and even more so, for the reality of God as they believed Him to be, specifically in this case at precise odds with the human-all-too-human mere mortals that we people are.
And I’m sure for my making the joke (milking it, as it were) he (my 4x-great-grandad John Ogg) might’ve gotten serious, looked at me with a “you do not understand what’s important in this life, boy”-look, and then given me the silent treatment until sometime during the evening meal, while cutting his food, and not looking at me, he might have smiled a touch and started saying something like, “Mother,” speaking to his wife, “I learned something very great indeed, today,” everyone’s hanging on his words; he cuts methodically, “and much like Elijah who was lucky enough to be given the grace of a vision, I received the gift of watching — just for a second, mind you — His very hand drop from above and just as He formed Adam from the very clay of this, His Earth, sculpt a lesson for one of the wayward of His flock.”
“How was that, Father?” his wife (my 4x-great-grandma) might’ve asked, prodding her preacher-hubby along.
And at this point he’d taken his bite, chewed and looks right at me as he readies to speak, but then looks away when he says, “He spoke to me and then bade me act.”
“What did He say? What was His task for you to carry out?”
“Well, Mother, what I did, bidden by His Hand, of course, was to go upstairs where the grandkids sleep and prepare a bed for a special guest.”
“That’s what I thought, too. But He bade me clear one of their beds for the guest.”
“Whose was that? And who’s the special guest?”
“The guest we all want, and I tell you will be sleeping in that spot tonight after we’re all asleep.”
“But whose spot was sacrificed so the Holy Ghost might rest here well?”
“That’s just the thing; that’s where what He said to me comes in. He said: ‘Ye hath built a sturdy structure, this house, which shall be long-lived and from which will rise many and numerous offspring, men and women who shall go forth and help this sad world of Men get along as best it can. When the Holy Spirit rests with thee, you, too will rest the rest of the Just and Righteous Man. Let the boy who would let himself joke about what is and isn’t, who is and isn’t sacred not sleep, but be forced outside the House that you built, only to gaze in upon that which houses the holy, which lasts, and from which we hope he may learn that it is His humility that made my Son the Son of Man, and it is this son’s humility that can make him into the kind of man who can build the kind of house I would rest in for a night.'”
…or something like that!
(Well, ok, so ya got me: I don’t have a lot of respect for oganized Christian religion and will joke about it in many ways, many times. But my worldview is informed by an abject prostration of respect for life, for every other person, for people who can be deep in conviction but won’t be violent or aggressive about it. And my ancestor John Ogg, bishop of his congregation of the United Church of the Bretheren, seems to have been that kind of man. And my little fictional scolding of me by him, above, is given with humble love and respect for him and his life & all of us descended from him, as well as for those who still practice within the denomination he so championed.)
And respect for his HOUSE!
Cuz indeed, I stumbled upon a pdf hosted by the State of Maryland within an incredible online catalog of all the officially designated historic structures in the state about “The John Ogg Farm”, detailing its structure, layout, architectural considerations, etc. And all the facts seem to indicate that he built this house, buying the plot in 1851. Only a few years later, though, John and his wife Elizabeth, and his 23-year-old son, training to be the minister in his father’s footsteps, and his wife and their baby boy, and their 8 other kids and their fledgling families and about 15 other families, most of whom were all 2nd and 3rd or so cousins, they all wagonned up in their hilly little vale of western Maryland and went 5 miles north to the National Road and beelined for southeastern Minnesota.
Where they built *this* church.
(Yes, that is indeed the blogger long, long ago, at the church in Minnesota. HUGE thanks go out to my aunt for pointing out the utterly embarassing fact that I had posted a picture of the wrong church, b4 putting this one up! Thank you, Auntie Nonymous!)
John got the church rolling, there, on the flat plains of southeastern Minnesota, and after his death in 1868 his son Joseph (pictured to the right) took over. The baby (Joseph’s son) who’d made the trip from Maryland in the wagon was named Martin (pictured below).
Martin didn’t follow in the preaching tradition, but he did live 90 years (until 1941), and from his nine kids he became grandfather to 43. His son, George, also lived a long time, till 1968, just three years before I made my entrance. What’s much more meaningful is that my mom, her sister and her brother (and all their cousins) knew George — their Grampa Ogg — into their adulthood.
Why is that anything to note?
Because their mom (George’s daughter, Adelyne) had known *her* grampa Ogg, Martin, (the baby who’d made the trip from Maryland in the wagon with his dad Joseph and *his* grampa Ogg, bishop John). And because Martin was 17 when his grampa John Ogg died.
It’s significant because he knew the man who built the house pictured up top, who led the building of and preaching God’s word at the church pictured above. And his son and granddaughter both were intrinsic elements of the lives of my aunt, uncle and mom.
It’s of note because the 7 generations from me to John Ogg suddenly collapse into just a few degrees of separation when measured by the contact of people to people: (1) John Ogg to his grandson Martin; (2) Martin to his son George and his granddaughter Adelyne; (3) Both of them to my mom, aunt and uncle (as Grampa Ogg and Mom, to them, respectively); thence a 4th step to me.