Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

The Adventist Connection to French Creek Freddie

Did you know there is an Adventist connection to a famous groundhog? One of the first French Creek Freddies, West Virginia’s popular weather prognosticating groundhog, was found and raised by members of a Mountain View Conference church.

Jean Shaver shares the following:

On May 7, 1987, my husband, Harry, found a newborn groundhog in the middle of a road. Harry put her inside his shirt pocket and brought her home.  I gave her some warm milk in a small pet bottle which she accepted immediately.

Harry named her Happy because it was my birthday (and hers). Happy would sleep around my neck every night. After about 12 days her eyes opened, and I was the first person she saw, so she thought she was human and I her mother.

When Happy was a few weeks old, she would come into the kitchen and grab me around my leg fussing for her bottle of milk.  I would hand her the bottle and she would sit down and hold the bottle herself.

Happy even housebroke herself when she discovered the cats’ litter box in the laundry room. 

She loved to tear up magazines and newspapers but when she began to chew on electric wires, we knew we had a problem. We were afraid to leave her alone because of the electrical outlets and the damage she could do–maybe a fire would start from her chewing.

My husband, Harry was a conservation officer with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources for 38 years. He was a district captain at the French Creek office of the DNR, so we decided to give Happy to the game farm, which was close to Harry’s office. At noon every day Harry walked over to visit with Happy, giving her favorite candy, peanut butter cups.

After three weeks, I decided to visit Happy at her new place, but I didn’t expect her to remember me. As soon as I walked into her large cage and sat on a log, Happy ran to me and jumped up on my lap.  She talked to me in her loving groundhog sounds, cuddled in my arms. I didn’t understand her groundhog talk and she didn’t understand human talk, but we had bonded.  She knew I was the one who raised her.

When it was time for me to leave her, Happy wouldn’t let go of me so Harry had to pull her off so I could go through the gate.  She ran to the fence crying after me.  We could hear her crying and calling after we were completely out of sight.  I wanted to turn back and bring her home, but we knew in time she would be better off where she was.

Happy grew up and gained a new name, "French Creek Freddie."  Harry walked over every day to visit with Happy and take her peanut butter cups until he retired in 1988.  We also visited her after his retirement.

Happy was treated like a queen for the rest of her life, traveling in an air-conditioned cage to Jackson’s Mill, fairs, etc. She also “helped” predict the end to spring each year as one of the first “French Creek Freddies—a tradition still going strong in the state.

We only had Happy about three months, but we learned even a groundhog has feelings and is special. Jesus said there would be many animals on the new earth, so I hope to see Happy there and that she will recognize me, run to me, and jump into my arms.  “For with God, nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37).

Both Harry and Jean were members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Harry passed away in 2005; Jean is a member of the Mountain View Conference's Buckhannon (W.Va.) church.


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