Acquisition No.: 2013-91
Title: Crucifix; John Smith, Henrietta Seymore, 1938-1939.
Item History:

John Smith's first Last Rights.

A note on the bottom of this crucifix reads;

"Mother keep this, Hennie can tell what for, 1938-1939, Dad was sick."

"Hennie" is Henrietta Smith Seymore of Bonneauville, PA. "Dad" was Henrietta's father John Smith (husband of Annie Hufnagle Smith). The couple lived with their children in McSherrystown, PA. Henrietta moved to Bonneauville around 1947 when she married Sylvester Seymore.

In 1938, Hennie's father John held this crucifix while on his deathbed, as he received the sacrament of Extreme Unction (Last Rites) from a Catholic priest.

Per Hennie's recollections, 12/5/13, age 85;

"Dad was sick and could not walk. I was ten years old and in the fifth grade. He was in bed in an upstairs bedroom for a whole year. Dad got so bad that the Father Weiner, the McSherrystown Parish priest, administered his Last Rights. There were a lot of people in the room. Everyone was crying."

"He lived and very slowly got better. Grandma would message his legs and set him on the balcony so that the sun could warm his legs. Aunt Veronica (John's sister) brought an electric blanket to the house for him. He drank a lot of lemon juice on advice from a friend."

"Dad belonged to the Eagles, now the McSherrystown Home Association, before his illness. The Eagles gave him $200.00 (a lot of money during the Great Depression years). When he got well he paid it all back."

Notes on the above recollections: Eventually John Smith totally recovered. The cause of his illness was never determined or was never recorded by the family.

In the 1930's some doctors were recommending the consumption of at least three lemons a day as an anti-cancer treatment. Scurvy was treated with lemons but surviving Smith family members do not recall any of the sores that usually accompany the disease.

Surprisingly, the electric blanket was invented in 1912 (about thirty years after the first public distribution of electric power and 25 years before John's illness.)

Extreme Unction (Last Rights or Anointing of the Sick) is one of the Catholic Church's Seven Sacraments. It is administered to those in grave danger of dying. The sacrament offers comfort, courage, forgiveness of sins and a peaceful transition to Heaven. Most Catholic households of the Mid-20th Century and before, kept a hollow crucifix hanging in their homes for Last Rites. The contents were generally a vial of holy water and a vial of plant-based oil, two small candles and a communion cloth. This crucifix predates most of the last Rites "kits."

Note: Peter Hufnagle married Catherine Hufnagel, making her Catherine Hufnagel Hufnagle. Their children included Annie Hufnagle Smith, the wife of Johnny Smith.

Location: Case II
Acq. Date: 2013
Acquired from: Henrietta Smith Seymore
Price ($): gifted
Type: acession
Curator: ckrc