Shonebarger

The hillside is covered with well-worn tombstones that are over 200 years old.

As you reverently walk from grave to grave, you read the names of the founding pioneers of the village. The names all reflect Wales as their birthplace. Your soul is stirred as you imagine, through your mind’s eye, the sights and sounds of a pioneer people building a community in the wilderness.

One wonders about the motivation of these families who packed up their children, and worldly goods, to set sail for the New World. Were they suffering religious persecution? Was their lively hood in jeopardy? Were they merely adventurous, yearning for a new community in America? It was their vision to build a community committed to their principles and values.

Historical accounts reveal that when they arrived this virgin area of rolling hills, and fertile ground, they determined to build a school, and a church. This was their utmost priority. The church would be built at the site of where the graveyard sits today. A marker was erected years ago to honor the location of the original church/schoolhouse.

The Welshmen were deeply religious, with strong convictions regarding the education of their children. Land that had been granted to them by the government was sectioned off amongst the pioneer families by the founder of the community, Theophilus Rees. A new community was established that would soon be called “The Welsh Hills.”

With deeply held religious convictions, moral leadership and advanced literacy, the community thrived.

A world-class college would be built in the Village that is thriving today in Granville, Ohio (Denison University). The heartbeat of the founders was branded deep into the hearts of their descendants. My great-grandfather, Harvey Lewis Williams, was a pioneer educator in Ohio and the Welsh Hills. Among his distinguishing accomplishments were serving as a Hall of Fame football and baseball coach, band founder, high school principal and mathematics teacher.

In our modern society it is imperative that we return to the principles that made America great.

Reflecting upon the passionate zeal of American pioneers ought to provoke us to revive that spirit of faith in God, education of our children, and the quest of forming a more perfect Union. America is too young to die! Sadly, we are a nation adrift, having lost many of our moral moorings. What made our nation great was “American Exceptionalism.” This has been the moral fiber, woven into the fabric of our principles.

Let us, through deliberate action and advocacy, prioritize these principles here in Middle Tennessee. Let us be fervent in faith and prayer. Let us cry out to God for a spirit of change to blow upon our people.

Let us actively participate in the education of our children, and faithfully attend our houses of worship. We must accept the responsibility to be the change we want to see in our community, state and nation. Together we can endeavor to return to the fervency of the pioneer, and impact generations of people with our guiding principles.

Have a great week, and remember, God loves YOU!

Reach Jon at jtshonebarger@gmail.com.

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