Burton W. Maris, a son of J. T. Maris of this city and for many years a well known citizen of this county, is now a resident of the Holy Land, having moved last spring with his family from the United States to Jerusalem, evidently with the intention of making that city their permanent home. About 8 years ago Mr. Maris and family moved from this county to Beaver-co., Oklahoma, where they lived for a few years. About three years ago they decided upon the move to the Holy Land and began to make preparations therefor. They were delayed for some time, however, in completing arrangements for the trip, and for some time lived in Bridgeport, Conn., where Mr. Maris worked in one of the industrial plants. All necessary passport papers were finally secured and Mr. Maris and his family proceeded on the long ocean trip.
Mr. Maris, in a letter received recently by friends in Beaver-co. gives some interesting facts in regard to the country and the people where he now lives. We quote from his letter as follows:
Jerusalem, July 15, 1921.
"We were expecting to find most all the people here Jews, but there are Egyptians, Turks, Arabs, Greeks and Bedouins, only about one fourth of the people being Jews, so now we understand Lamentations better. The people here do not know what it is to be sanitary; they are filthy and diseased and, oh, how they do need salvation in their lives, and they are ignorant, too.
"Most of the people here do not know what a bed is. They sleep around on the ground and rocks all their lives. Living is really cheaper here than over there, but buildings and furniture are very high. They raise more kinds of vegetables here than at home and have pears, apples, apricots, cherries, berries, oranges, lemons, bananas, figs, dates, pomegranates, grapes and plums, and almost all kinds of nuts, barley, oats, wheat, maize and alfalfa, and I did not think they raised much stuff here, but they raise a raft of it, and they save everything, too.
"Olive trees just grow everywhere but there are no great forest trees only around the house. There are no forest trees up around Lebanon. The main language spoken here is Arabic and the children are learning it very fast.
"We are so happy here, and it has been years since I heard so much singing and laughing. We are among such a poor, ignorant people, but they are such a care-free people, and they do seem to enjoy life."
The Western Star is permitted to print the following interesting letter which was received recently by J. T. Maris of this city from his son, Burton W., and wife, who, moved from this county to Jerusalem, in Palestine, a year or more ago. For many years Burton and his family lived in this county and in Beaver-co., Oklahoma. Mrs. Maris before her marriage was Miss Susie Martin, and is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. B. F. Martin, formerly of this county but now of Cashion, Okla. Mr. and Mrs. Maris write:
February 19, 1922.
Dear Father and Mother:
I will try and answer your welcome letter we received a few days ago.
It is cool and windy here today. It rained yesterday and hailed quite a bit of small hail, and last night it stormed all night, the wind blew real hard and we had lightning and thunder, too. Spring is here. Everything looks so nice and green. Some of the wheat and barley is shoe-top high now and we have had a lot of rain this winter. The gardens have been fine this winter. Most of the people go barefoot, but wear overcoats. Jimmie and I went to Bethlehem Christmas eve to see where Christ was born and to attend the services, and there were people there from every tribe and nation, such a crowd that we had to walk back. Got back about 12 o'clock. There was a trainload of tourists in last week mostly from Sweden. There will be about 250 here this week from New York. They come in the latter winter and early spring before it gets hot. We are still living in our tents, but do not pay any rent for the ground we are on. Have looked around quite a bit, but have not bought anything yet. They do not sell land by the rod or acre, but have about a dozen different kinds of measurements to sell by, and they ask for $600 to $4000 for a building site, according to where it is located.
The Temple of David is on Mt. Zion. The contract has been let to put an electric power plant on the Jordan river this summer. The British Mandate has been straightened out, so things will boom here this year.
It is sure wonderful the way things grow here. Blue grass and clover just grow all over the mountains, and they never turn to seed. The sheep and goats eat everything into the ground; and the people do not sow the seed nor know what they are - the Lord just causes them to spring forth. I have protected a bunch of clover and it will soon bloom. It is large clover, because it is about 12 inches high now, and has a large leaf on it. A person understands the Bible better after living here - where it speaks about John eating locust and wild honey. There is a kind of locust tree here that produces pods which look like the pods from the honey locusts, and they taste sweet and like chocolate. And then, where it speaks of the sheep knowing the shepherd's voice, they can take a bunch of goats or sheep right through the crowed streets. The shepherd goes ahead of them, and if they stop he makes a noise something like an old hen when she is warning her chicks and if they do not come he will pick up a stone and throw it at them and they will just come running to their shepherd. There is a strain of camels they get here from Sudan that are roadsters, and then there are draft camels. The military police ride camels, and they say they can out run horses, and then they are better to take out on the desert. Arabia commences just east of the Jordan river. You see boys not much larger than Thomas driving camels and burros from the railroad station up town. You seldom see these people ride with a bridle on a horse, mule or donkey. They either ride them with a halter, or just get on and take a big stick to guide them with.
There are so many places here where one has such a fine view of Jerusalem, and it is a beautiful place to look at, and they have so many fine churches. The churches here cost more than the whole town of Coldwater.
We take the Kansas City Star, and we saw in the last paper where Kansas has got snow, but not enough to help the wheat, and it was January 25. We got a letter last week from Oklahoma (where we lived) and they said they had given up a wheat crop for this year - that they had no moisture since August.
The children are doing well in school, and there is not so much sin and vice for them to take up with. This leaves us well and, able to eat up anything Susie can cook. We have eaten more fruit since we came here than since we have been married. Sugar is 5 1-3 cents per pound. There are a good many houses going up here, and something like, 200 were built last year.
If times stay open long enough and we get to come back we will tell you all about this country and the customs of the people, but it takes so long to write them. Write when you can.
BURT AND SUSIE.
Burton W. Maris, who was a resident of this county for many years, and who is now located in the Holy Land, writes the Star as follows concerning his voyage from New York City to Jerusalem and of the country around that city. Jerusalem, May 14, 1922.
Editors Western Star: I received your letter last week asking me to give you a description of our trip across, also about the country here. We started from Bush Terminal, Brooklyn, at noon on May 5, 1921. The night before we left we had a real hard storm in New York City, and the morning papers stated that there were a great many vessels in the harbor which broke loose and were damaged considerably, and there were several summer houses on Coney Island which were washed away.
The wind was blowing pretty hard when we started and when we got outside of the harbor the waters were real rough. All on board were so excited that they could not est much dinner, and before supper time they were so sick that they could not eat at all. I thought I would stay with it, so I went down to supper. There were three other persons at supper. One ate, but the others did not. I ate, but it was like the oysters - it could not stay down. Well, I found my way to bed and stayed there two nights and one day. We had a real bad storm, and it lasted until Sunday morning. The matrons and officers were among the seasick. We had a real nice weather the remainder of the week, but the following Sunday morning about 10 o'clock, another storm came up, and it was worse then the first. The waves would go clear over the top of the ship, and one man and woman very nearly got washed overboard, but there were not so many who got seasick during the second storm. The last storm lasted two days and nights.
We were 12 days getting to the Strait of Gibraltar, and it was the first land we had sighted. The Rock and Fortress of Gibraltar are certainly a great sight. We were in sight of land most of the time while in the Mediterranean Sea. We saw the island where Paul was shipwrecked. We had real nice weather, except the two storms. We saw several other vessels while on the way, also several whales, sharks and porpoises. It is sure a fine trip across the ocean, especially when the weather is nice. We were 19 3/4 days on the water. We landed at Port Said in Egypt, at the entrance of the Suez Canal. We came across on the Steam ship "City of Sparta," one of the Ellerman & Bucklnall ships of the American and Indian Line, and they went on to India. There were six missionaries on board going to India, and six going to the Congo, in Africa. In coming across we traveled 165 miles the first day, and 297 miles was the largest days run we made. We came from Port Said to Jerusalem by rail. We crossed the Suez Canal at Kantarah. We also came out of Egypt when we crossed the corner of the Arabian desert for about 75 miles and then came in sight of the sea and followed along the coast to Gaza.
The southern part of Palestine is low land and sandy, and from 20 to 40 feet in water. They have some fine date groves there. There is a strip of country which runs from Jaffa to Ramich that is sure nice country. Most of it is planted to oranges and lemons, and they certainly raise fine ones. They sign raise sugar cane around Jaffa, and fruit and vegetables everywhere. They grow apples, peaches, cherries, apricots, plums, pears, figs, pomegranates, grapes and some kinds of fruit which I have not been able to learn the names of.
The arabs are poor farmers, but where there are Jewish colonies, they have things looking real nice. Palestine grows lots of maize, kaffir, oats, barley and wheat. I will send you a couple heads of wild wheat in this letter, and you can see what a little wisdom, time and energy have accomplished in the wheat business. The Jordan Valley is very fertile, and olden times, they say there were large sugar plantations there, but they have all been destroyed. The Jordan Valley is very low and is sickly, but most of the rest of the country is healthy, and has a very good climate. It seldom freezes here in the winter. One has fresh fruit and vegetables here the year around. Palestine raises lots of sheep and goats, but the cattle are scrub stock. They raise quite a few hogs and chickens and lots of camels and donkeys. The customs and costumes of the people here are just like they were 2000 years ago. About one half of the people can neither read nor write, but you cannot beat them when it comes to buying and selling. They sure know how to count money.
Most of the buildings here are of stone, and they sure have good stone, to build with.
The American church here is very simple, but is a nice building. Most every other nation has its churches here in Jerusalem, because it is the Holy City and these foreign nations have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on paintings and engravings for their churches.
There are 39 different languages spoken here. It is wonderful the way Soloman had those springs at Hebron filled and ran water into Jerusalem, and also the way Zebediah sank the streams and springs around Jerusalem and tunneled them underneath the city, and the way he brought it to the surface at the lower edge of the city, and the way he fixed it for the prophets to get the water. His idea was to keep the water away from the Babylonian army at the time they captured Jerusalem. There are so many places of interest here to see, which are wonderful. There are so many sweet scented plants here too. Trees make a rapid growth, and flowers grow to perfection. The Thursday night before Easter, after prayer meeting at the American church, we all went down to the Garden of Getsemane, and it is such a beautiful place. From there we went up on the side of Mount Olive to the Russian church and held services which were very impressive. There was such a large crowd, but perfect order. There were tourists there from everywhere. Easter is the largest festival they have here and the Greeks spend about half of their time in feasts.
This leaves us all enjoying good health. I will close for this time, thanking you for the copies of the paper you sent.
B. W. MARIS ( and family.)
The Western Star, November 6, 1925.
J. T. Maris started Monday morning for Atlantic City, N. J., where he will make an extended visit with his son, Burton W. Maris, and family. On the way he will visit with a sister in Independence, Kans., with a brother in Kansas City, Mo., and with relatives in Indianapolis, Ind. Burton returned last July with his family from Jerusalem, Palentine, where they had lived for about six years. Burton is now living in Atlantic City.
John T. Maris, father of Burton Maris.
Elma (Hadley) Maris, mother of Burton Maris.
Anna Vera (Maris) White, sister of Burton Maris.
Myrtle (Maris) Morton, sister of Burton Maris.
Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site!
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