“Jonah’s Surprise BirthdayReturns”
3 August 2001 & 3 Aug2002
Jonah Park (1806-1884)
My 3rd GreatGrandfather
On Thursday, 3August 2000, an incredible sequence of events took place in which I was awakenby a baby’s cry (we have no infants) throughout our then, Fayetteville, NChouse. This, preceded by the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer by a nervousfather and the meandering selection of a name which was to be “Jonah” which Iheard as I slept. I would laterdiscover that this was the day that my 3rd Great Grandfather, JonahPark, was born in 1806! I believed thenthat the baby I heard was he (See my first account, “The Lord’s Prayer &The Baby Jonah”, 3 Aug 2000). Duringthe following summer in 2001, I was staying at the Holiday Inn Hotel inMontgomery, Alabama, just a few miles outside Maxwell Air Force Base, where Iattended the AFJROTC Instructor School (I teach at George Washington HighSchool in Charleston, WV). I was awakened by the crying of a baby one night inthe next hotel room at about 3:25 A.M. Since I had USAF Officer classmates in rooms on either side of me, whowere also without their families in Montgomery, I assumed that one of them hadchanged rooms due to an air-conditioner or plumbing maintenance problem. As I exited my room on the bright,beautiful, sunny morning to follow, I commented to my classmate, now exitinghis room, about our buddy moving. “Oh,no, Brad didn’t move….why do you ask?” It was then that I told him of being awakened by the baby in thedarkness of the early morning. Nothingmore was said, until I arrived at the auditorium for class at Maxwell Air ForceBase. I pulled out my schedule for theday and quickly noticed the date at the top of the paper “3 August 2002”…..it was Jonah’sBirthday. I had heard his infant cryagain for the 2nd consecutive year, surprised at the abruptness ofit, beautiful as the experiences are for me. I kept all of this to myself, as I didn’t want my classmates to questionmy sanity.
This morning,having stayed up far too late, I climbed in bed at about 1:45 A.M., having beencaptivated by my latest genealogical discovery—that I am the 9thGreat Grandson of Mareen Duvall (1625-1694) of Nante, France, descended fromEnglish Royalty, who helped to found the Colony that is my home state,Maryland. My wife, Pamela, and ouryoungest two children, Bryanna Noelle and Brayden Myles were in her hometown ofFort Ashby in Mineral County, WV, about a 4 ½ hour-drive away. Thus, I sleptalone. During my sleep, I heard the laughing of a playful child who keptpulling my covers off of me. Each time, I would jerk the covers back over me.It happened again and in frustration, I pulled the sheet, almost violently,back toward me. In the act of doing so,I woke up from a sound sleep. A momentlater, I heard what sounded to be a young, male child 2 or 3 years of age,laughing gleefully downstairs. I turnedon the hallway light and proceeded to the top of the steps and thought I couldhear the child outside now. At thebottom of the steps, I turned the porch light of our Hurricane, WV Home (Putnam Co.) on. Why would a child so young beout at this time?, I asked myself, peering out. Possibly with a newspaper carrier, I thought. The fact was though, no one was there. The neighborhood was dark and all of theoccupants of the 8 houses along our peaceful cul-de-sac, slept peacefully, asfar as I could tell. I turned off theporch light and then the foyer light and began to ascend the now darkenedstairs. As I did so, I pushed the lighton my watch to see what time it was. Itwas 3:30 A.M. I had only been asleep for an hour and a half. But my eye caught something much moresignificant than just the time on the face of my watch. I pushed the light button again to see thedate and continued to hold it on in surprise and disbelief as the fluorescentgreen numerals stared back at me to say…..”Saturday, 3 August”. I had losttrack of what day it was—today was Jonah Park’s 196th Birthday! And now, he was a little boy, playfullyreminding me of this fact, that this is the day, my 3rd GreatGrandfather, Jonah was born (Nell Park Gum wrote that Jonah was a jovial adult,prone to practical jokes). I wanted tocall my father, William Henry Park II (1930- ) and mother, Frances Theresa Bell (1932- ), but it was too early. I would later discover that Dad was up at that same time, awakened bythe heavy rains from a passing storm in their Bowie, Maryland home, less than20 miles north of our nation’s capital. I feel that his conscious state at suchan odd hour was meant to be.
As I reflected on my surprise experiences ofJonah Park’s Birthday over the last three years, I have questioned myself as towhy these auspicious “birth announcements of the innocent child” began. And I now believe I know. Three years ago, on Friday, 11 June 1999, tobe exact,my father and I stood in the woods at the top of a thickly vegetatedhill on a farm in Irvine, Kentucky (Estill County). It had been a scorching day and the sun was setting now; thelong, dark shadows of nearby trees casting themselves upon us. The climb to the top of the hill had notbeen easy, as we fought through briar and rock, even to the point of fallingdown at times. In a darkening corner of these woods, we were excited to findthe grayish, thick tombstone of Malinda McMonegal (Born Dec 16, 1810, died May27, 1862), Jonah’s wife, sitting alone. Where was Jonah?, we asked ourselves. As we frantically searched, pitted against the setting sun and onset ofdarkness that would soon cloak Malinda’s grave, I noticed a feeling underneathmy feet, equal to walking on a marble floor. I looked downward to see nothing but an ivy covered forest floor. When Ibent over to pull the ivy away from under my feet, I saw the words that made myheart beat fast “Jonah Park”….it was Jonah’s tombstone! It had fallen on its back and time and itsweight (maybe 250 pounds) made sure that it sank even with the levelground. When the ivy grew, it coveredit neatly. So neatly, in fact, that if I had not walked upon it, the stonewould have remained undiscovered. Myfather and I carefully lifted the heavy, but beautifully preserved stone upfrom the top, while resting the bottom of it on the ground. We then slowly maneuvered it over to facehis, wife, Malinda’s stone, placing them together face-first so as to protectthem from the weather elements.
I believe now, thatthis act of respect and love in unearthing and then protecting his memory inthe form of his tombstone, has awakened Jonah to help me to remember him. For 3 consecutive years, I have heard him,first his birth cries and now as a playful young boy. He must have been born at 3:30 A.M. in the darkness of the EstillCounty night, so long ago. It’s as if Iwere there, in the home of Jonah’s mother and father, my 4th GreatGrandparents, John Park (1773-1828) and Polly Peeler (born Christmas Day,1774), to hear the Baby Jonah come into the world. And in each of the last 3 years I have been alone on theanniversary of his birth night, as if to ensure that I should have theopportunity to share the experience of hearing this baby, with others in my family. And it makes sense--his presence for me, hasbeen a beautiful “birth announcement”, its mere mention though, an oddity thatmost would consider ludicrous. But for me, it’s a touching way to share hislove with those who mean the most to the both of us (Jonah and I).
“His Record is on High”
Aug 3, 1806
April 30, 1884
Experienced andwritten by:
William “Doug” Park (4 May 1959- )
3rdGreat Grandson to Jonah Park and Malinda McMonegal
“Servant of God,Well Done. Best from Thy Loved Employ.
The Battle Fought,the Victory Won. Enter Thy Master’sJoy”
-Epitaph on Jonah’s stone