When Minnie Bell Springsteen was born in the summer of 1882 in Norfolk County, Ontario, she had nine older brothers and sisters to look after her. Minnie’s parents, Daniel and Mary Jane Springsteen, moved their family to Lapeer County, Michigan when she was about four months old. Daniel’s grandfather Caspar Springsteen, along with his younger brother Staats, had settled in the Niagara region of the British province of Quebec after the American Revolution.
For Daniel and Mary Jane 1883 presumably dawned with the hope of opportunity and good fortune in their new home. However, sadness came on January 2 when Minnie’s brother William died. By mid-January John, Mary, Allen, Alfred, Jacob and Jamie had joined William in death, reportedly from diphtheria. Only Minnie’s oldest brothers Henry and Joseph Nelson Springsteen survived with her. Hope was born again in one more child, Sampson Howell Springsteen, who was born to Daniel and Mary Jane in December 1883. Minnie’s three brothers who were alive to see 1884 all lived into their eighties. Minnie died in 1985 at the age of 103. This story of family tragedy and durability is outlined on FindAGrave. Descendants of Daniel and Mary Jane Springsteen have lived through the endurance of a remnant of their children.
On November 25, 1944, just before his 20th birthday, Edwin Frank Springsteen was on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Essex with his friend Durward Mark “Dude” Pontius when an alarm sounded. Ed and Dude were among a line of sailors descending from the hatch when burning fuel severely injured men just behind them and those behind the grievously burned were killed before reaching safety. Gunners on the Essex deflected a kamikaze bomber pilot from an intended trajectory that could have sunk the ship, but serious loss was inflicted.
After the war Dude married Ed’s sister Madge, Ed married Lois Kidder, and they started new families. My Pontius cousins, my siblings and I are grateful that Uncle Dude and Dad made it down the hatch just in time.
We naturally live our lives without giving much thought to the seeming chance of our even being born. We face opportunities and difficulties in everyday life just as our forebears did. Their faithfulness and perseverance are our inheritance. We should accept their legacy and the life we have been given with both gratitude and responsibility. We are here for a season and God alone knows when this one will end. On this day in particular we are reminded that the forces of evil would like us to live in fear. Reject that desire. In a world of calamity, potential, and wonders that are still beyond our understanding, we have a gift to live and to give.