Twins Separated and Reunited

Paul and Pauline, circa 1938

Written Spring of 2015

“I was a gentleman and let Pauline come first,” was how Paul Hackman used to describe his birth with his twin sister. Though Paul and Pauline were twins they lived apart for many years. It’s unknown whether Harrison and Lizzy (Moyer) Hackman knew they were going to have twins before their birth in 1932, but it is known that they were the 10th and 11th children to join the Hackman family.

Sadly in 1934, when the twins were just 2 years old, their father, Harrison Hackman, died suddenly at age 45, leaving their mother, Lizzy Hackman, with 10 children and another one on the way.  Lizzy lost her husband and his income, so then she lost her house, and her beloved children.  She had to travel by bus and find work at a clothing factory.  Eventually, she had to find other homes for her children.  They attended Franconia Mennonite Church and the brothers of Harrison stepped in to decide where the children would be placed. Many of the children were “farmed out” to relatives or distantly related families that attended at Franconia.  The need for mutual aid became apparent as church members and relatives “took care of their own.”

The oldest child, Harold, had died in 1917, the same year he was born, so he was not aware of the sudden loss of his father. The oldest living child was Laaden who was 16 when his father died and was “farmed out” to Menno Souder’s and then later to Paul Ruth’s home.  To be farmed out means to be “put (as children) into the hands of another for care” but it often also meant working for food and care at a nearby farm. Samuel who was 14 went to his Uncle Raymond Hackman’s home.  Harrison who was 12 went to Wellington Clemens’s home to live with his mother’s sister and her husband.  Leroy was 10 when he was sent to live at the William Moyer home.  Norman was 9 when he moved in with Uncle Henry Hackman, a relative that attended at Plains.  Nelson went to live with Uncle Sam Hackman’s but was unexpectedly hit by a car along Route 113 in Franconia before his 10th birthday.  Katie was next in line at age 8, but as the oldest girl remained living with her mother.  Naomi at age 7 went to live with her Grammy (Kate) Moyer and Aunt Katie.  At age 3, Pauline was chosen to move to Harvey and Mary Ellen (Funk) Smith’s home, fellow church members at Franconia.  Betty Mininger lived on the other side of the house near Earlington and never forgot the loud screaming when the Smith’s tried to get Pauline into the car. Pauline had to leave her mother, older sister, twin brother, and baby sister to live in a stranger’s home. Paul was not required to follow his sister to the Smith’s because according to Grandma Funk (the mother of Mary Ellen Smith), the “town is no place to raise a boy.” The baby that was born 4 months after her father’s death was named Eva and remained with her mother, Lizzy.

It’s obvious from talking to Pauline that she was loved and nurtured in a caring family. Mary Ellen and Harvey provided a home for Pauline and were ecstatic to finally have the child that even “Lydia Pinkham” couldn’t provide.

Pauline breaks down when she talks about her mother, adding “I never realized what my mother must have gone through till I had my own children.” Even though she visited with her birth mother once or twice a year, she didn’t know her as a mother and referred to her as the “other mother.”  Harvey and Mary Ellen Smith were her parents in every sense.

Her early memories include going to the lawyer to get her name changed from Pauline Hackman to Pauline Smith. She was the only one of the Hackman children to be adopted.  She vividly remembers when her grandfather, Isaiah Funk, died.  He had been the one to buy her special treats from the ice cream truck, but on this particular Sunday, he stood up from the mid-day meal, remarking that he didn’t feel well and had to lie down.  When the family finished their Sunday dinner, they found him dead on the davenport.  After he died, “they laid him out in the living room.”

After a few years, Paul became “too hard for [Mother Hackman] to handle” and the Smiths decided to move out of Telford to a farm so that Paul could live with them.  So at age 10, Paul moved in with his twin sister’s family, but his name remained the same at his birth mother’s request. Pauline doesn’t claim any extra mental telepathy with her twin, but says, “We were close till we got older.” They went their separate paths with Pauline marrying Ralph Nice at age 19 and Paul starting to attend at Norristown Mennonite Mission along with Ralph Freed, who lived two doors down from their farm in Earlington. In 1956, Paul was ordained to the ministry to help Markley Clemmer at First Mennonite Church of Norristown.  A few months later, he married Faye Martin and together they moved into 21 Marshall Street, the former mission church and residence of Markley Clemmer and family.

Pauline has a photo that captures the lifelong relationship between the twins when they were reunited in 1964 with their families at Elmwood Park in Norristown.  In all, Pauline had 9 children and Paul had 4. Today, Pauline is a very energetic and happy person despite the losses she has had to experience over the years, including her oldest daughter, Lois, from spinal bifida. She had worked in home care as a nurse’s aide for many years, assisting even her twin brother’s wife when she was dying.  She remembers fondly the yearly Moyer family reunions pitching quoits, playing monopoly, and taking rides in the meadow. Although, she has grown closer to her Hackman siblings, it’s obvious that her sweet spirit came from the many years of encouragement and dedication of her adopted parents.  She was nurtured and cared for by her collective church family and she is filled with a deep gratitude.