Enos and Emma Yoder on their 60th Wedding Anniversary
Written Fall of 2012
When I was younger, my dad had a remedy for most things that bothered me, “You need an adjustment.” This meant lying on the couch with my dad’s hands spanning my back and jolting me up and down for as long as I could stand it. I was sure I felt worse rather than better after this therapy. But none of my feelings deterred Daddy and his belief in “adjustments.” Sometimes he even used a hand vibrator to massage my back muscles for particularly difficult ailments.
Daddy may have received lessons on how to give an “adjustment” from his Uncle Enos. Dr. Enos Yoder was his mom’s brother, a chiropractor in Souderton. I remember him as a tall, lanky man in his 70’s with reddish-rimmed glasses. As I followed my dad up a winding staircase, he said “Enos has to take care of Emma like a nursemaid because she is in failing health.” I heard the respect in my dad’s voice, but I never really knew my great uncle Enos.
Enos was born in Souderton to Jacob and Elizabeth (Moyer) Yoder in 1880. He attended Souderton Mennonite Church where he once winked at the new girl that had been “farmed out” to a family that lived across the street from the church. Her name was Emma Bergey and she was intrigued with this Mennonite boy enough to start dating him and then later even marry him. Perhaps she saw the Enos’ ingenuity and courage even then. They were very happy together and Enos doted on Emma in a time when this was not done, telling her often how much he loved her.
Their oldest son, Earl, had an unfortunate accident when he was young, falling out of a tree and severely injuring himself. Although he survived, he later had seizures that left his young parents desperate to know how to care for him. They naturally did what most local parents did in those days: they took a train to Philadelphia to see if there were any doctors there that could help him. Eventually, they found a chiropractor who not only worked on Earl but helped him experience some relief from the seizures. This discovery had a life-changing effect on Enos, who in 1917, with only a 6th grade education, decided to leave his wife and 7 children with his wife’s parents and take a train to Chicago to receive a degree from the National College of Chiropractic.
Enos asked Emma while he was gone, “Are you eating the chickens I left you?”
“No, we haven’t killed them yet,” Emma replied, reluctant to admit it felt like a luxury to kill the chickens and preferred eating radish sandwiches.
Enos wanted better for his family back in Pennsylvania, but when he remembered his former job at the cigar factory, he pressed on, determined to finish with a degree in chiropractory. Three months later, he returned and put out his shingle in Souderton, treating patients till his retirement in 1966.
I see now why my dad admired his uncle Enos. I’m amazed that I am related to a person with such a pioneering spirit and enough belief in himself to achieve a goal that must have seemed impossible in that day. He had a desire to serve the community of Souderton through an education in chiropractory and wasn’t discouraged by his Mennonite roots. Despite my Grammy Benner’s desire that “none of her children do anything important…only that they become Christians,” I think my dad had unfulfilled aspirations. I can definitely attest to the fact that he never wavered in his belief in the power of “the adjustment.”
Thanks to Phyllis Proctor of Peter Beck Community for her willingness to tell me about her beloved grandparents, whom she lived with as a young girl and heard their stories first-hand. She helped me get to know my great uncle and great aunt, for which I am grateful.