Helon and Emma with 12 of their 14 children

Since today for Light the World we remember the scripture Matthew 15:4 "Honour thy father and thy mother." I am reminded of this story of Emma Maria Burdett who married Helon Henry tracy. They are my three times Great Grandparents. I love how she tells of her finding her love Helon Henry Tracy, but also of the life they lived and the love and light they shared. It is obvious they lived a life of service.

I love this story of how Henry and Emma met, has been beautifully written up by their grandson Wendell H. Hall as he remembered Emma telling him the details as a ten-year old boy:


Emma Marie Burdett Tracy
"My dearest Grandson, the doubts you have expressed to me reveal the uncertainty and misgivings respecting the fair sex that are natural to one so young and I can appreciate that you are beginning to experience the yearnings and confusion that fill the heart and mind of a young man who is seriously contemplating matrimony. There are many girls eager to marry, of all kinds and with a wide variety of physical, moral and intellectual attributes as well as diverse talents, charms and attractivity that men can ill define and explain, let alone resist. Your problem consists in selecting among them the one that will forever be for you your one and only true love. Such a decision appears to be above and beyond human reason and wisdom and better made a matter of appeal and supplication to a superior intelligence. Two souls who seek each other in this way will find one another. Listen while I recount to you an intimate experience from my life. "In the days of my youth, the wheat harvest was always an occasion of great festivity and joy, in spite of the unusually hard work it meant for us. We received in it the recompense for arduous labor over many long days, and it constituted for us the basis of what we would have to live on during the coming cold days of winter. When the harvest was ended and the shocks of wheat gathered together, the threshing machine came, and when in the distance the muffled sound of that enormous steam-powered engine was heard, advancing heavily and spouting smoke and fire from its tall black stack, everyone left their tasks of the moment to gaze in fascination at this magna creation of the Age of Iron, feeling overwhelmed and insignificant at the side of such a tremendous invention. As soon as the thresher arrived, all the men put all they had into their work and the women, no less hardworking, busied themselves preparing those meals of theirs so fabulously delicious and hearty.
Helon Henry Tracy
"Our work continued without pause until dark, when everyone went to bed to get up with the sun. The custom in those days was for everyone in the area to help each other mutually with the harvest and since the farms were large, homes could be far apart. It was necessary, therefore, to provide lodging for many of those who came to help. It often was the case that farm families had to forget about their own comfort in order to provide a place to sleep for the guests, making do the best they could with straw mattresses for themselves on the floor. On this custom hangs the ending of this story. "Well, it happened that the 1865 harvest surpassed all our hopes. It was so abundant. At the time I was 15 years old and, though you may find it hard to picture this to yourself, looking at this silver hair of mine, very pretty. If not, then the young men around there were great experts at flattery. A lot of them showed interest in me but my heart found in none of them the affinity of souls hinted at by my yearnings and promised by my hopes. In what could this affinity consist? In the physical attraction of noble, attractive good looks, of glowing, vibrant health? In aptly expressed elevated, beautiful thoughts? In the expressive gaze of mild, gentle eyes serenely plumbing the depths of the soul? If so, in this and much more it made itself felt on that harvest day when I met Henry Tracy. From the moment I first saw him in the refulgent light of dawn till the day came to its close marking an end to our labors, he was ever present in my thoughts. And I anticipated he'd be with me also in my dreams.

Emma Burdett Tracy with some family 1913
"Time to retire for the night, and I found my room invaded by sisters whose rooms had been given over to the accommodation of the workers. It was my custom never to go to bed without saying my secret prayers, aloud, but with my sisters there, no way could anything remain secret, so I decided to go out to the granary, where with perfect peace and tranquility I'd be able to express my innermost feelings in prayer. With this surety, I directed my footsteps there, entered, and was met with perfect silence and total darkness. I knelt on the bare floor, next to bins and sacks filled with grain, and in fervent tones began to render my devotions to the Almighty. With youthful candor I expressed the hopes and yearnings of my soul and pled, as so many times before, though never with equal fervor, that the constancy and fidelity which I had shown during my life up to that hour might be rewarded with the love of one able to appreciate the best in me and reciprocate it. "My prayer ended, I said, 'Amen.'

"'Amen!' echoed back a voice. Never had a prayer a more instant response. It was the voice of my Henry, your beloved grandfather, who for lack of room in the house had found a place to make his bed in the granary." Never expecting that anyone would be within hearing of that fervent youthful prayer, Emma was embarrassingly startled. But, had she perhaps not noted that young Henry, also, just two years her senior, had been casting his eyes in her direction and thinking about her since the time she arrived in the community.




A letter Helon Tracy wrote to his family while away April 7, 1886