I recently learned about two of my relatives, Rev. J. H. Wesley Wertz, my great, great grandfather, and his son, Rev. Joseph Q. Wertz, my great uncle. Because my grandfather had been adopted before he was two when his mother died, he knew very little about either relative. The key was finding an index to The Lutheran Visitor, a publication of the General Synod of the South from 1869 to 1904.
One item that I did not expect was Rev. J. Q Wertz’s report in The Lutheran Visitor on January 31, 1884. “The parsonage (Pine Grove, Lone Star, SC, and Trinity, Elloree, SC) is in good condition with 145 acres of land attached.” I read it a second time and it did say 145 acres of land. So I checked with a local historian in Elloree whom I had recently met. He told me “Of course, the pastors farmed back then. That’s how they survived.”
I started thinking. I would have never made it–never, ever– as a pastor during that time when a mule had to be your best friend and constant plowing companion.
I was sharing the story with a former seminary professor who laughed and said, “John, when you are a pastor, you do what you have to do.”
I’m sure that my great, great grandfather and my great uncle did not think it was strange to be a pastor and a farmer. They did what they had to do to proclaim the good news.
I found the grave stone of Rev. J. H. W. Wertz in the cemetery at Pine Grove Lutheran Church and immediately thought about the passage from Hebrews speaking of the “great cloud of witnesses.” I silently thanked God for the witness of Rev. Wesley Wertz and the other pastors down through the years who did what they had to do to proclaim the good news.
The link to The Lutheran Visitor index is http://www.genealogytrails.com/scar/newspaper_index.htm