Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Alexander Mack - early years

In 1662 in Schriesheim, Germany, John Philip Mack was married to Christina Fillbrun and the young couple purchased a house in which to raise a family. In 1674 invading armies involved in the Dutch War of 1672-1679 harassed and looted the surrounding villages and a large portion of Schriesheim was burned. When the French army withdrew, a weary people under the leadership of Mayor George Mack (John's father) began to rebuild. In June 1679 John Philip Mack was able to re-purchase what had been the old family mill. A month after the purchase of the mill, the 8th of their 11 children was born. On July 27, 1679, their new-born son was taken to the Reformed Church where the new pastor, Louis Agricola baptized their son and christened him "Alexander" in honor of his godfather and uncle, Alexander Fillbrun.

As Alexander grew older, most of his friends were of the same church, for since the Reformation the population of Schriesheim had been primarily Reformed. The Mack family attended the church faithfully and Alexander was taught the doctrines of John Calvin and at age 13 he attended confirmation classes and memorized the Heidelberg catechism in preparation for his confirmation on Easter Sunday 1692.

As a boy, Alexander worked along with his brothers in the family mill and vineyards. The plans were that the older brothers would take over the mill and Alexander, the fourth son, would attend the university in Heidelberg; but that changed when his oldest brother died at age 24 and Alexander would now become a miller.

When Alexander was five, a new schoolmaster (Peter Ewald) was chosen who continued teaching until age 70. For eight years he served as Alexander's teacher of reading, writing, and arithmetic. When Alexander was eight years old the community welcomed a new set of cast bells to the city hall where his grandfather had served as mayor for 30 years. Another highlight of the family during Alexander's childhood years was the marriage of his only living sister. The Mack family was perhaps the wealthiest family in Schriesheim and were able to provide their daughter a very generous dowry.

Throughout his growing years, the community was often caught up in a variety of wars that moved through the area. By the time Alexander was 18, half of his life had been spent in war. When his brother just older than Alexander was married and chose to move out of the area, there were now two sons John Jacob and Alexander left to carry on the family business. Alexander was not wholeheartedly committed to being a miller. He experienced feelings of restlessness and did not have a rapport with his father or his brother and was searching for more than being a miller. He had a strong feeling of right and wrong and feelings or moral laxity within his own church. He was beginning to think of his own future and of marriage.

Tommorow we take up the story with that of Anna Margaret Kling, and the following day we celebrate the anniversary of their marriage.

Source: The Life of Alexander Mack: Counting the Cost by William G. Willoughby