The following article was submitted by Pastor William Ashbrook to the Columbus Dispatch in 1938 and was transcribed from a copy of the letter provided by Pastor Dan Greenfield of Orwell Bible Church.
November 10, 1938
The following incident occurred about 2 p.m. on October 31st., 1936. Mrs. Ashbrook and I, together with our four children, had just completed a hurried visit to the bed-side of my mother who was critically ill at Washington, Pa. We were returning by automobile to our home at Columbus, Ohio. Traveling west on U.S. Route 40, we had just passed through the village of Claysville, Pa., where the road makes a slight turn to the right and starts down a small hill. The car was going at approximately 35 miles per hour. Our youngest child, Emma Ruth by name, was just past two years old. She was riding in the front seat with her mother and myself. At this particular moment she was standing on the floor of the car next to the front door, holding a baby doll in her arms. A sudden gust of wind opened the door with terrific force and the resulting suction drew the child from the car head-first, before her mother could lay a hand on her.
The mental agony of the next thirty seconds cannot be described! Fearing to apply the brakes too suddenly, I brought the car to a gradual stop, meanwhile looking in the mirror for some sight of our little one in the road behind. The baby doll was lying in the road at the point where the child had pitched out, but there was no Emma Ruth to be seen! Before the car came to a complete stop, Mrs. Ashbrook was out on the road. She could see the child’s feet and red leggings protruding from under the running board, her head and shoulders being concealed beneath the car. Great was the mother’s surprise and resultant joy wen she discovered her child suspended in mid-air by the sleeve of her coat which had caught on a small bolt beneath the running board. She seemed to be held up by a single thread, but that thread had suspended the child’s body safely above the hard road and had protected it from the front and rear wheels of the car.
As the child was extricated, her scream of fright gave some assurance that she was not badly injured. A hasty, but careful examination revealed a badly torn little dress, a small tear on the coat sleeve, and one tiny scratch on a little finger! A lady living nearby, whose name can be furnished, heard our screams and seeing the open car door and the baby doll rolling in the road, came running to our aid. She arrived just in time to see the child taken from under the car uninjured. Be assured that prayers of thanksgiving ascended from the middle of that National Road, and tears of joy fell freely also as father and mother and the three older children thought on the wonder of it all. A little dress, badly torn, but very precious, is among our most valued possessions!
The car in which we were traveling was a borrowed one, 1935 model. The doors were hinged at the rear, the latch in front, making the doors open from front to rear as they did in some cars of that period. We discovered later that this door had a faulty latch which made it possible for the gust of wind to open it. However some might attempt to explain, we firmly believe that our Heavenly Father in His wonderful loving care spared the life of our child. We would give Him all the glory. This incident was freely told to many at the time it happened. The next evening, being Sunday evening, Nov. 1st, 1936, I preached to my congregation on the theme, “Why I Believe in Miracles”, relating to them the happenings narrated above. “Believe It Or Not” the age of miracles is not past and our God can still give his angels charge over us!