Sunday, May 17, 2009

Value of Education During Civil War and Today

“Education is worth more to a man than a fortune of gold.”
~Silas Igo Shearer, (1838-1915)

My great-great grandfather, Silas I. Shearer

These last few weeks I have been corresponding with my first cousin Sylvia who lives with her husband Tom in Vienna, Austria. We are making up for many, many years of being out of touch. We’re having so much fun learning about each other and sharing details of our lives since we last saw each other. A lot has happened in both our lives and it is amazing how much alike we are and how similar our interests are. One difference though, is I am not a traveler and international person as she is. She is one year older than I am, and she has been living abroad for most of her adult years. She has just retired from teaching. Sylvia and Tom have been teachers overseas in places such as Pakistan, Germany, and Austria, and more. Tom also has a law degree but apparently most of his career has been as a school teacher. She and I have discussed education: reading, writing, and...haven’t got to arithmetic yet!

Last week she had asked about my husband, Don Pendleton, his writing, education, and reading, and I sent her three quotes by him, which she enjoyed.

This is what Don said about reading, education, etc.

"I have served many long and lonely years aboard ship in war zones, and the only thing that kept me sane during all that enforced loneliness was my access to a good library in which I read, literally, every book on the shelves, even textbooks, and which gave me access to other worlds no way open to me." ~Don Pendleton

"The only true personal power comes from the mind and that mind has to be developed the same as muscles are developed–through use." ~Don Pendleton

And Don Pendleton’s response to a young fan: "As you grow older, you will discover that your mind is the only truly limiting factor in your life. With a well developed mind you can go anywhere and do whatever. But nothing comes automatically and the best things don't come easy."

Then last night while working on my Civil War period novel I came across the written words of my great-great grandfather, Silas I. Shearer, a Union soldier from Iowa, 23rd Infantry Volunteers. He was discussing the schooling of his oldest child who would have been about four years, nine months of age, and his concern that he hoped it was not too early for the child to attend school. He told his wife, Elizabeth Jane Shearer, “I am glad he wants to go but I [fear] it will give him a disliking to it and to study, sending him so young. I want my children to have a good education and if he takes a delight in it and learns, let him go. If I should not get home I want you to give the children a good education if you live.” His letter was written in July 1864 from Union army camp at Morganzia Bend, Louisiana. He also told her: “Education is worth more to a man than a fortune of gold.” ~Silas Igo Shearer, (1838-1915)

Apparently his son in question, Lewis D. Shearer became a barber and lived to be 90 years of age. Silas was in the Union Army from 1862 and was discharged out of the army as a sergeant at the end of the war in 1865. In addition to being a farmer he was Assessor, Justice of the Peace, a member of the Board of Supervisors in Collins Township, Story County, Iowa.

Silas and Elizabeth Jane Shearer

My great-great grandparents

1 comment:

Frankie Anon said...

I love your husband's quote about the mind. I'm going to send that to my 13-year-old niece. I hope you'll think about visiting Vienna while you have family there! I spent four months there and absolutely loved it. You can walk in Mozart's footsteps and drink the best coffee you've ever had!