The Story of my Life

Feature Story October 2004
“The Story of my Life”
Dr. Ernst Max Adam
(Nov.20, 1801 – Sept. 15, 1880)
A graduate in medicine of the University of Wurzburg, Germany, he grew discontented in his homeland and migrated to America as a young man. After visiting a half dozen Central Pennsylvania communities, he settled at Blooming Grove where he practiced for 40 years. He never married.
The following story is taken from a journal begun on July 6, 1869, by Dr. Ernst Max Adam. It is translated from the German by Prof. Levi J. Ulmer, head of the Science Department at the Lock Haven State College and descendant of German immigrants who established the Dunker community of Blooming Grove, six miles north of Williamsport, about 1805. Assisting him was Charles F. Ulmer, a cousin.

From his own words:
Looking to the Almighty and Omnipotent Searcher of all hearts before whom every thought and act is revealed, I take my pen to share with you a short story of my life without attempting to conceal the dark shadows which oft times were the fault of none but myself.

I was born on Nov. 20, 1801, in Meissen, in the kingdom of Saxony. My father, a rich merchant and tradesman, was kind and gentle, seldom using the rod. When necessity demanded punishment, he delegated this duty to the mother who assumed her official duties with such seriousness that frequently howling and the chattering of teeth on my part were the visible results.

Every Sabbath my parents attended the House of Worship, and every morning at family worship my mother sang a hymn. On ever page of my father’s ledger were the words, “With God.” It is a great joy to me that I can follow my parents as a witness of the truth, and that I cannot remember a single unbecoming or harsh word that was spoken in our home.

As early as my sixth year I had a premonition of death, which could have occurred in the following way had the Almighty not prevented it.
It was winter, and the Elbe, a large stream that flows by the city, was frozen over. My brother and I stepped on the ice to amuse ourselves. Under the main span of a bridge, which crosses the Elbe was a deep hole which seldom froze over. We went straight to this dangerous place, to the outer edge of the thin ice, to see whether the water was as deep as the stick I carried in my hand. As we squatted ourselves on the ice I thrust the stick into the water to fathom the depth.

Suddenly we were interrupted and frightened by a loud cry from the bridge. A man standing there, noticing us, called to us in a loud voice, “Children! Go instantly back to land or you will be drowned!”
This command somewhat hurt my pride. Laughing at the man, we continued our investigation.
The man now shook both fists at us and cried: “I will go at once to your mother and tell her.”

This threat worked like a charm. Hastily retreating, we ran to our home expecting to receive 12 lashes from the ox-goad. Fortunately, we got home first and the man made no report.

Thanks be to the Lord for this rescue from the danger of death.
The following incident of my childhood experience illustrates the error of the saying that children inherit innocence and purity of soul.
(The reproduction of the journal by the Blooming Grove Historical Society in May, 1978, was part of the Society’s observance of the sesqui-centennial of the Blooming Grove Meeting House, built in 1828. It was the place of worship for early settlers, and was both a community and religious center for the German Dunkers who established their homes in Blooming Grove. In July of 2005, the Society will observe the 200th celebration of the first German settlers making homes and establishing a colony in the Blooming Grove area of Pennsylvania north of Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Information on this observance may be obtained by contacting President Mark Roller, 1329 Country Club Drive, Williamsport, Pa. 17701.)