A memoir of my great-grandparents by Edward Rumsey, Jr.

Sylvester was from my Holland Granny, the famous Phoeba. She loved that name
and that was the name given to her older son, George. You’ll see that one your website. So my
parents took the ‘Edward’ from my father and from his great uncle, and the ‘Sylvester’ from Phoeba’s
son George. Boring as a home movie for guests!

I mention that because all this review of the website now that Arthur’s death compelled me to return
to your outstanding site and recall all the individuals as well as the fact that there really was something
somehow special about the Hollands. I remember Phoeba and George as such jolly people. Uncle
George, after his father’s death, was the undeclared patriarch of the entire family, and he in turn
spoke of generations before him – always as happy people in spite of difficult circumstances.

I thought you might like to recall the spirit of the times. I’m fearful that it has disappeared. Here’s a
little excerpt from my collection:

…all the stories, all the tales told, reveal that little Edward followed puppylike behind George, and I
can understand now that George must have become a guiding light in the little boy’s life. There must
have been memorable childhood moments spent at the outer edge of the culture listening to George
and the Hollands and Becks swap tales. Oh! Those lifelong tales!

As I look back, I now conceive something that touches me deeply! You see, it seems to me that
things were structured differently in those times, if not as a rule, then at least this was how I observed
and understood it as I looked on. There existed a historical code of personal honor and
accountability. For untold centuries, the code seemed to require the men in this culture to prove that
they possessed courage, good judgment, loyalty and the skills to survive. Oh, maybe modern
sociologists may laugh at this as something outdated, but it did exist. I know that it existed. There
was such a beautiful respect for my great grandparents John T. Beck and Phoeba Holland.
Everyone spoke so well about them. The children had the fondest memories, and though some may
demean the process, it persisted as though through some rites of passage. Generations moved
forward, but the end was always strikingly familiar. There was a system of rewards and honor, and
the family shaped its vision of manhood in accord with the traditions that it had sustained. Mr. Beck -
as his own wife called him - became leader, the lion. When he was gone, this passed to his son,
George - George Sylvester, none the less. George knew how to defend the family and was willing
to do so, even in the face of certain defeat. So, throughout the young lives of the males of the new
generation, there was an observing and learning from the stronger men in the midst. They were
expected to take their lessons into adulthood and pass them along to the next generation. Has the
sophistication of society made these lessons irrelevant? This ritual was the heart of the family, old
and young gathering to celebrate bonds and pass on a way of life. The lions at the center, the
ever-quiet young boys listening, awed, present and absorbing the stories, learning to be a man,
longing deeply for the day they can sit in the middle of the circle. Edward was the one that was
always one step closer to the center. I was often told that he occupied a favored spot in their hearts.
Time chisels new patterns…

 Edward Rumsey, Jr. also contributed pictures of Phoeba Holland's family as well as pictures of Phoeba and John Beck's gravestones.  These may be found in the Album - Family section and the Album - Cemetery section. 

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Holland Family History and Family Tree:  Stories: Enos
This Holland site Published 10 July 1996  This page added 3 May 2010   Last updated 10 March 2014

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