DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: - In the midst of severe bereavements and deep tribulation I send you the following obituary notice for publication in the SIGNS OF THE TIMES:
Our little twin sons, whom we called JACKEY and WILLEY, to distinguish them, (we did not consider them permanently named, but talked of calling them Gilbert Beebe and Wilson Thompson) were taken from our embraces, the latter on the 23rd day of December, 1852, aged 19 months and 5 days, and the former on the 17th day of January, 1853, who lacked one day of being 20 months old.
At that interesting age, when their glowing powers of communication and action fascinated each member of the family, the chilling hand of death was laid upon them, and a deep gloom consequently overspread the entire family circle. Ah, brother Beebe, they were invaluable jewels to us, probably too much idolized; but the lovely little flowers have withered, and we confidently hope to bloom eternally in a healthier, holier, happier clime.
But alas! The stern monster death could not stop here. He stalked off with his victims for a time, to receive and return for a heavier mission. Their mother, CATHARINE C. JOHNSON, the companion of my bosom, the partner of my cares, and the solace of upwards of twenty-seven of my past years, was made the next object of his ravages. She appeared at first to bear the loss of her jewels with a becoming christian fortitude; but the recollection of their charms seemed to call back the endearing ties of a fond mother's heart to such a degree that I began seriously to fear the consequences. A heavy and almost continual gloom hung over her mind, until the deep wounds of a tender mother were depicted in her countenance. In this situation she was attacked with the mumps, which so affected her head that her mind seemed partially to lose its balance, and all the gloom of despair appeared to take possession of it, and for three weeks or upwards her sufferings were extreme. Dear brother, I had often thought before this that I had severe trials to encounter for one so weak and ill able to bear them as I was; but these exceeded all the rest. I was often made to wonder why she was left for so long a time to mourn the absence of her Savior and the apparent loss of all hope. I had known her from her infancy, and often thought that her life approximated as near to innocency as was possible for an inhabitant of this polluted world.
Yet, notwithstanding this, about the commencement of the year 1830, she was enabled by grace to see herself a lost and helpless sinner, and finally to find her righteousness to be in the Savior of sinners, who spoke to her in the consoling language of the poet, "When through the deep waters I call thee to go," &c.; and on the 4th Saturday in June, 1830, with myself and three others, related her experience to the church, and was baptized on the following day as a member of Lebanon Church, in Henry Co., Ind., in which church she remained a worthy member until she was removed from the militant to the church triumphant.
It is a consoling reflection that the twenty-seven years in which our interests have been one were marked with peace and unity. Indeed, her virtue, meekness and amiableness were such, that no one worthy of the name of a husband could live otherwise with her. O what a loss, and what a solace, too, to consider that in the twenty-three years (nearly) that have measured our pilgrimage our minds have been one; so that in the means and all other difficulties through which we have been called to pass, if there has been a conflicting sentiment between us on any important item of doctrine, I have never found it out. And there is not a remaining doubt with me but that she had the confidence and fellowship of all the numerous Old School Baptists with whom she was acquainted.
She was born in Monongalia Co., Va., on the 31st day of March, 1812, the daughter of John and Mary Ann Wellett, married on the 1st day of March, 1827, and deceased on the 3rd day of May, 1853.
She has left to lament our bereft condition myself and nine children, five sons and four daughters; the youngest a son a little over six years old, a mother, (who is a subscriber for the SIGNS) four brothers and three sisters, (one a Mrs. Harvey, a reader of the SIGNS, in California) with a numerous train of relatives, and very many friends. Although she viewed herself without hope and forsaken of her Savior during the greater part of her affliction, the scene was happily changed ere her sun went down. After we had concluded that her powers of speech were entirely gone, raising her hands, she exclaimed, "O my heavenly Father, my dear Redeemer, come and take me to thyself! Now I know that thou canst make a dying bed soft. O come quickly, and take me from this wretched state. I know that where thou art there is plenteous redemption. Now I remember the words thou spakest to me a long time ago:
"When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand."
The principal part of her conversation after this was pleading with her Savior to come and take her home. She talked with him as though she beheld him face to face, expressed a full resignation to his will, and seemed to rejoice at the prospect before her. She informed us that at his first appearance, the Savior came almost to her, and seemed to raise her up until her bed felt soft. At one time, after pleading with her Lord to come and relieve her, she remarked, "He can do without means; he wants none of that mixture." Thus the Lord in his infinite goodness not only sustained his handmaid in the trying hour, but for the consolation of us, her surviving friends, ratified his immutable promise never to leave nor forsake his children.
Brother Beebe, I hope that you and all the dear brethren and sisterhood who may read this will join with me in thanks to the Lord for the support afforded thus far under our privation, and pray for the exhibition of his grace to sustain us onward.
Brother Beebe, if it is not intruding too much upon your patience, please give the following lines of poetry, which I have composed on the death of my companion and two little boys, (twins) a place in the SIGNS OF THE TIMES.
My Catharine and two little jewels have left us;
O may we her pious example maintain.
The messenger, death, armed with power, has bereft us,
And rent our family circle in twain.
They've left us; but ah, 'twas their all-wise Creator;
The kind hand that gave them has borne them to rest.
They've hied to the arms of their great Mediator,
To bask in his smiles and recline on his breast.
Away from this world, high on love's pinions bounded,
Far, far from its toilings, its care and its woe;
Enraptured with bliss and with glory surrounded,
Forever released from their sufferings below.
O Lord, thou art merciful; grant us submission,
For thine is the right both to give and to take.
In this sad bereavement O hear our petition,
And grant us relief for Emanuel's sake.
The billows of trouble, the tide of emotion,
Must calmly subside at thy soothing command;
There are healing supplies in love's bounteous ocean,
The boon of submission is strewn from thy hand.
Weep not, for their Savior is mighty, he's glorious,
By him was the monster bereft of his sting;
He suffered, he died, rose, and now reigns victorious,
That all his redeemed should his victory sing.
Rejoice, for their spirits have gone to adore him,
Who saved them by grace and then called them to come,
And join in his praise with the myriads before them,
And hail all their following relatives home,
To range in the mansions all gilded with glory,
To feast on the fullness of infinite love,
To swell the sweet song and rehearse the glad story,
Of Jesus' salvation forever above.
O death, dost thou boast of thy wide devastation?
Thy terror is banished, thy sting is destroyed;
The Savior proclaims an eternal salvation,
From sin and from death to a heaven enjoyed.
O grave, though thy gloom their remains has enshrouded,
The triumph o'er thee is already complete;
They'll rise and be borne to the regions unclouded,
To greet, their Deliverer and sing thy defeat.
There is infinite bliss, there is heart-thrilling pleasure,
There's glory and grace in a lasting abode;
There life, love and bliss in an unwasting treasure,
Eternally flow from the fullness of God.
Your friend and brother in tribulation,
J. F. JOHNSON.