Monday, September 26, 2011

Playing the Mennonite Game...ca. 1800

In Chapter 5 of The Trail of the Conestoga, the Brickers arrive in Canada and meet up with another Mennonite family, the Moyers, who have settled in the Niagara area. After a welcome and a meal, they begin discussing the really important things.**
At this juncture, Sam found it convenient to change the subject of conversation by inquiring if Rachel, too, might be an Eby.

"No," replied Levi, "Rachel is a born Cressman, and her mom was a Shantz. Her mom's oldest sister was married with a man that had a brother, and he was a hired man once to Christian Eby. Ain't that right, Rachel, how it goes?"

But Rachel had a different version of the connection. According to her tell, it was her mother's youngest sister that had married a man, whose sister had married the hired man himself. But whichever it was, they were agreed upon the personnel of the hired man in question. He was a Baumann. Black Ephraim, they called him, for he was of a swarthy complexion.
"Baumann!" exclaimed Annie. "What for Baumann would that be now?" She knew so many by that name.
"His mom was a Bingeman, or a Sauder," replied Rachel, "or was it a Wissler? I can't think. But anyway he hears a little hard."
"Ach, him," cried John, discovering a flash of identity in the midst of diversity. "I mind him. He was at a funeral once—"

"That's him," interjected Levi, with an air of finality. "He chenerally always likes to see folks get buried."

And so the identity of the hired man was established and the bond of friendship strengthened between the Moyers and the Brickers. "It seems like we are long friends already," observed Levi, "knowing Ephraim Baumann together like we do."
**"Find-the-relatives" smalltalk among Mennonites is jokingly referred to as the Mennonite Game.

1 comment:

Natasha said...

Memories!
In Bible College I toured with a choir around Northern AB and BC. Several of our choir members were ethnic Mennonites, and our choir director had recently married a girl from a Mennonite family. The Mennonite game was played wherever we went!

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