What inspired me to write this story
I have been blessed to enjoy years of fellowship with a very large extended family. My Mother had three brothers and three sisters and my Father had three brothers and five sisters, plus a sister who died of pneumonia at age two and a half. I was named after her.
My Dad’s family began gathering for family reunions in 1955 and since then my uncles, aunts, cousins, in-laws and outlaws have faithfully organized and attended Messick Reunions every two years since. I treasure the stories that were shared, laughed over and embellished year after year. In 2002 my older brother Mike researched and presented a slide show of my grandfather’s life, including information about his ancestors. It was well done and brought to life a man I knew in my childhood as Grampa who was grumpy whenever us kids played in his barn, but I had never considered the impact world events, environmental disasters and The Great Depression influenced his life, and ultimately my own. So I went on my own adventure, researching back through centuries to establish a strong line of ancestors and their subsequent connection with me. During this trip into the past I discovered ‘my people’ were Huguenots who were persecuted so severely for their Protestant beliefs in France during the 16th Century they were driven to flee for their lives, leaving wealth, estates, friends and families to escape the Inquisition. Then I discovered a Queen named Jeanne who lived at that time. She was an unquenchable leader of the Huguenots and sheltered many preachers and teachers from persecution and death. She was not related to me however I was fascinated with her story; and that was the beginning.
The above picture is the only portrait Jeanne d’Albret allowed in her lifetime. She was too preoccupied with the many circumstances in opposition to her. Her expression almost appears as though she is about to take flight to attend to a much more pressing issue. [The image comes from Gallica Digital Library and is available under the digital ID btv1b10544063g/f1, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8341524]