Sunday, February 27, 2011

1858 Mar. 20 Letter to William Chandler (3562), Hannah C. Blain (3565), and Sarah Blain (3705) from Samuel Hess

Letter, written in ink on paper, on four sides of large folded sheet of paper, dated March 20, 1858, from Samuel Hess in Decatur, Illinois, to William Chandler (3562), Hannah Blain (3565), and Sarah C. Blain (3705) in Chillicothe, Ohio.

Decatur, Macon County Ills March 20th 1858

Dear Friends

It is with emotions of the most heart felt grief, and feelings of mind which seem almost intolerable for me to bear, the painful duty devolves upon me to announce to you my severe bereavement in the loss of your sister Sarah (3563), whose love and devoted attachment for me, and my interests and welfare, I have every assurance to believe was unsurpassed in few, if any companions through the journey of life, especially placed under similar circumstances. I had taken her from the home of her birth, from under the roof of her paternal guardianship, where all the fond ties of father, mother, brother and sisters were united in love, and where all the fond recollections of youthful aspirations must concentrate, from the home of her childhood, youth and maturity, from a beloved brother, sister and niece, who dwelt together in love and harmony, and for whom I know she entertained the most sincere affection and regard, relinquishing all these endearing ties and associations for my sake, to sojourn in a distant land, a land of strangers, where we were yet unsettled, and where I must acknowledge circumstances have seemed to operate unfavorably towards us ever since we have been here. Yet she never uttered an unkind or reproaching word to me, but on the contrary, always expressed a willingness to do and conform to whatever I thought was for the best. But now the reflection of her patient forbearance and conformity to my wishes seems to reproach me. Although an angry word to each other never passed between us, I almost feel as one severed from the common ties and interests of life, without any prompting object in view to stimulate me to action.

May God in his infinite goodness guide and direct me, and give me grace
and strength to bear up my mind under the weight of my severe bereavement, as He alone is able to bind up the broken hearted, and give strength and succor to the weak. But we should not mourn as those without hope, when we consider the fiat has gone forth, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” The decree has passed upon all conditions of life, whether rich or poor, young or old, whether in a land surrounded by kind and loving friends, or in the midst of strangers. Youth, maturity and old age alike must sooner or later, when summoned, yield to pass through the trying and unknown ordeal which separates the material from the immaterial. But God, who is omnipresent, and whose tender mercies are over all his works, has said the very hairs of our head are all numbered, and that a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice. And we have the assurance, that, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive,” “And as we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly,” “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written” “Death is swallowed up in victory,” “Oh death where is thy sting?” “Oh grave where is thy victory?” “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” And you may find in the 4th Chapter and 14th verse of the First Epistle General of John: “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the World.” - read the whole chapter. These and many other passages of scripture seem to me to afford a pleasing consolation to those are left to mourn the loss of beloved relatives and friends, when the silver cord is loosed, and all the endearing ties of love and attachment seem to be broken forever on earth. It is then that we are brought to see and feel most clearly and sensitively that this is not our abiding home. “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” Then I would say in the language of the Poet ------

“How blest is our sister bereft,
Of all that could burden her mind;
How happy the spirit that’s left,
This wearisome body behind;
The heart is no longer the seat,
Of aching and throbbing and pain;
It has ceased to flutter and beat,
It never will suffer again;
The quiet immovable breast,
Is heaved by affliction no more;
The spirit has gone to its rest,
Its Savior and God to adore;

Freed from the cares, troubles and afflictions incident to life, she has gone the way of all that all have passed that bourn from whence no traveler returns. Her journey has ended, she has passed through the dark valley and shadow of death, and I hope fears no evil, for I trust her happy spirit has entered into the realities and joys of our Lord, and joined the happy spirits of the redeemed in His praise forever. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying. Neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away.” Feeling a strong assurance that such is the happy condition of the departed spirit, we have great reason to rejoice in the hope that our loss is their most happy gain.

“Death holds the bright and golden key,
That ope’s the door to endless life;
From earth’s dark prison sets us free,
This scene of passion care and strife.”

Yet we see the vacuum in our family circle, we feel that the ties that bind us to earth are broken. Thus we see them sever one by one until our sympathies are excited to their highest tension, and we feel that it is ours yet to suffer for a time, and buffet the adverse and conflicting storms and vicissitudes of life. And our journey too will
end, may we be prepared to meet it in peace, and God grant it may be a happy termination.

Sarah (3563) was taken with a severe chill on Wednesday morning the 10th instant, and died on Thursday the 18th She was attended by Dr. McBride, who formerly practiced at Jasper, and who is considered as good a physician as there is in this place. He pronounced her disease dry pneumonia or inflammation of the lungs. Her disease was very similar to those attacks she had in Ohio, but did not expectorate so freely. The Doctor thinks her lungs were much diseased. She suffered severe sickness at the stomach most of the time. She endured her sufferings with as much patience as could be imagined. Friends were very kind in their attention and assistance. She was buried the 19th instant in the grave yard at the southwest end of Decatur called Kings burying ground. The funeral services were performed by the Rev. D. P. Bunn who delivered a very appropriate and pathetic address.

She had been making her arrangements to pay you a visit for a month or six weeks, and if she had not taken sick would have been with you at this time. She had purposed accompanying William Hayes who was going to Ohio on business, and I was going to take a trip to see the West. William started on Monday the 15th and is now I suppose about Waverly. Thus you see how soon our most sanguine prospects are blighted.

Sarah (3563) had been looking for a letter from some of you, but did not enjoy the satisfaction of seeing it. Joseph got Sarah’s letter out of the Office in the evening after she died, about 15 minutes past eleven o’clock a.m. on the 18th instant. The day was beautifully bright, not a cloud was to be seen to obscure the face of the bright Luminary of day, or the canopy of heaven. I opened Sarah’s (3705) letter and read it to myself in presence of your aunt who lay cold and lifeless in the embrace of death. She whose blood would have pulsated with quickened emotion of joy at its perusal in health, was then unmoved by its contents. Sarah (3705), you stated in your letter that you hoped it would find your aunt better. Although not verified as you anticipated, I hope it was in reality.

I wish you to write to me soon, and not neglect me because your sister and aunt is gone. I will write to you again soon. I wish to be remembered and esteemed as a friend by you all, hoping that I shall always entertain the warmest feelings of friendship for you all in behalf of her whose memory I hope to cherish in fond remembrance whilst the heart pulsates the blood of life through its throbbing veins. My best wishes attend you all

Samuel Hess

To William Chandler (3562)
Hannah Blain (3565)
Sarah C. Blain (3705)

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