Sussex County History Today: History and the passage of time

| 01 Apr 2023 | 06:24

Recently, I sadly attended the funeral honoring the passing of a lifelong classmate and friend Elodie Edsall.

My years with her were many. We attended the same church in town. We were in the same Sunday School class and learned the same Bible study views.

We were in the same kindergarten class in Franklin and subsequently went through the same grades as we gained a common perspective of how the world is in that one building for our whole primary and secondary education.

Our childhood and teen years held the same events: the Kennedy assassination when we were in seventh grade, the Vietnam War unfolding and man landing on the moon.

Through our adult years, we both mostly lived here in Sussex County and saw the county develop. The milk farms became less in number and the old red barns from the 1800s disappeared. The ski areas came into being and the school buildings popped up and golf courses were becoming a thing. We literally grew up together.

From knowing Elodie, I found that she has had a long history here, the Edsall family in America. They came from England to New Amsterdam in the 1660s and to Newark. They had gone to war in the Revolution right here from Sussex County to the Battle of Minisink.

Benjamin Edsall gave the Sussex County Sesquicentennial Address in 1903. She shared with me some old photos of Edsalls on the railroad and in the Spanish American War.

In our younger years, we always look ahead: What will I be? What is my career to be? Upon what pathways will I likely journey as life unfolds before me? Those years ahead stretch to the distant horizon - far away and indiscernible.

Then one day, we become senior citizens. We find that that horizon, once out of reach and beyond consideration, is now so close that we might almost stumble over if not watching out. The length of our life is now measurable perhaps with a 12-inch ruler.

In our now countable length of years, we have experienced history. This is the greatest and most important history that any one of us has read about or learned about - our own personal history.

We often look to educate our children, to have them learn well so they can prosper. Good schools and habits can certainly help. But that which each of us possesses might be far more important and critical to our children and others - it is our own experiences, both good and bad.

The purpose of this column usually is to convey a sense of the history of our little area on the globe: Sussex County.

I hope you have gained some knowledge of this, something interesting, something useful during the past year.

I thank each one who has offered kind remarks on noticing the column; this is greatly appreciated by me.

This is, in a way, my way to perform the very notion that I espouse here: tell your experiences to others. Fathom your life’s trials and events. Gather them and interpret them for others. Especially your children - let them know the stories that you have created and you have lived so that others may not only be aware of pitfalls on which you have stumbled or wellsprings where you have refreshed but they will get to know you, their grandfather or great aunt, on a more personal level.

Help to bring history along through the pathway of your own time and tell your own tales to others.

Bill Truran, Sussex County Historian