Ed at 95
Well, Ed Swartzendruber really isn't older than dirt, but having been born in 1916, he is older than a lot of things in today's world, some of which are in a PowerPoint at the end of this post. Not too many folks are 65, have a sibling who is 5 years older, and have two active parents who are 93 and 95 - so I am quite privileged to be such a person. I am in Indiana at my parents home in Goshen, and today we had a lunchtime birthday celebration at EDDS Supplies in Shipshewana; EDDS is an agricultural fertilizer company that Ed founded along with a couple of other of his friends, most notably the late Ellsworth Fanning.
After lunch, I asked Ed some questions about his younger years - here are some of the highlights:
Grandparents: Solomon and Katie Swartzendruber Swartzendruber
Daniel and Lydia Hostetler Shetler
Parents: Joseph and Emma Shetler Swartzendruber
Siblings: Walter [deceased]
Ed was born at home on the farm near Bayport, Michigan. One of his early memories of Grandma Swartzendruber was going up to her to find the mints that she would wrap up in her apron. Most of the mints were white and it was very special to get pink one. Another early memory is of Dan's barn - it had a funnel mounted in the corner with a drain through the wall to the outside - for peeing! Ed attended Snell school for grades one through eight, and the Kilmanagh school for grades 9 and 10. He walked to Snell and got a bike to ride to Kilmanagh. Both schools were two rooms with 'outdoor plumbing.' He likes to say that he was the top student in his class, and then adds that there were only four in his class. He took grades 4 and 5 during one year, and thus when he had to quit school after the 10th grade, he was only 14. The reason for quitting - Joe said "You need to be a farmer." Ed has a real talent in mathematics and had dreams of perhaps being a physician, but a farmer he became.
Joe and Emma moved from Iowa to the Michigan Thumb as did Dan and Lydia and Solomon and Katie Sol was a Bishop and Dan was a Deacon at the Pigeon River Conservative Mennonite Church, but Ed and the family left that church when Ed was about 9 and joined the more 'liberal' Berne Mennonite Church. One of the reasons was probably the tent revival meetings of S.G. Shetler who drew up a blackboard chart for the children to show who would be going to heaven and who would be going to hell. And for the boys, the hell-bound were those who wore neckties, wore white socks, and had long hair, and for the girls it was short hair and sleeves that didn't cover your elbows that would buy you a ticket to eternal damnation. At the urging of Joe, Ed joined the Berne church at 13, which he still believes is too young to make such a decision - a good Anabaptist perspective!
Ed and his brother worked mightily to make their 125 acre farm productive. They raised wheat, oats, corn, beans, sugar beets and hay, and they had a pasture for the milk cows and steers, plus space for their hogs and chickens. The garden would also produce potatoes, beans, and many other vittles. After working hard on the farm, Ed went to work at the Maust Market as a butcher. In 1939, Ed married Mary Aschliman, and they started the marriage journey that now is in its 73rd year. Due to the onset of WWII, Ed left the butcher shop and returned to farming.
In 1943, Joe decided to leave the Thumb for Goshen. He bought the Byler farm south of Goshen and a home north of Goshen, and Ed, Mary and 3-year-old Kay followed in 1944. They drove a car and pulled a 4-wheeled farm wagon loaded with all of their belongings - slow going! Eds bought a farm on US 33 southeast of Goshen, which is where I spent my first few years. In 1950, they sold the farm, and Ed and some colleagues started EZ Gas. We moved into New Paris, to a home that was owned by my mother's parents, Sam and Anna Plank Aschliman. Soon thereafter, Ed bought Joe's Byler farm at CR 27 and 40, and would farm there for over 50 years.
There are many more stories to tell, but they will have to wait for another time. Here are some of the things that Ed is Older Than [a document prepared by Ed's grandson Douglas Aaron Swartzendruber - sorry DA - a lot of the graphics/text did not make the conversion]. An intact version can be found here.