[Letter and Envelope edged in black. Written on envelope:] From Deacon CrandonBox 12-829 TO REV. THOMAS BAKER from C.H. Crandon
Jan 20 1868
To: Rev. Thomas Baker, 26 Gloucester Street, Toronto, Ontario
From: Brantford, Ontario
Rev. Thomas Baker.
Rev. and very dear Sir,
I feel dissatisfied with myself for having so long delayed replying to your
exceedingly kind letter of the 2nd inst., which was received in due time. We return you heartfelt thanks for the expressions of tender sympathy and words of comfort which it brings and look up with grattitude [sic] to the great head of the church who has ordained that his people shall be bearers of each other's burdens as well as helpers of each other's joy, and we admire his goodness and wisdom in instituting the social relations of life for the benefit and happiness of all mankind, but more especially for the grace whereby the feelings and affections of the Christian's heart are refined and elevated to abounding love for the brethren. In which we (sinful and unworthy as we are) are allowed to participate.
But you mention another great blessing for which we have abundant cause for thankfulness in that we are not called to mourn as those who have no hope, and this is indeed a blessing which calls upon our souls and all that is within us to love and praise our saviour's name. Herein we are furnished with a substantial and satisfying comfort which the sympathizing of minds cannot supply, and here we find a consolation which not only mitigates affliction but commingles rejoicing with our tears. And when you mention the heavenly associations which now constitute the supreme felicity of our gentle lovely one, and we contrast them with the condition of sorrow, pain and danger which she has forever left, and then ask ourselves the question-would we if possible bring her back-the ready answer is-oh no, the Lord's way is right-Let us go to her but let her not return to us. Because we are fully assured of the truth of what you say-"for her to die was gain"-"to be absent from the body was to be present with the Lord"-though the bereavement does indeed sadden our hearts and make us feel that we shall mourn the separation untill [sic] we meet again in heaven, yet we are certain that the mourning time will be short and the expected meeting blissful-and we do not regret that another earthly tie is sundered while we take pleasure in the contemplation of another rich treasure, deposited in heaven.
We thank you much for your kind condolence with Harriet upon whom the loss falls most heavily for never could two sisters love each other more dearly. During the long sickness Harriet has been in constant attendance to nurse and to do everything for her poor sick sister who could not feel comfortable if she was away or think that anyone else could prepare her food or drink, or give her medicine so well, by night and day at every call, Hattie was promptly at her side and now when her life long and most endeared companion is snatched away by the ruthless hand of death your tender sympathy is peculiarly soothing and I trust she may profit by the lessons to which you kindly direct her attention.
Regarding the illness which has brought our dear Ruth down to the grave, I may say it is now four years since we perceived that her lungs were dangerously diseased and her capacity for breath already lessened. Since then she has at times seemed to be getting better under careful treatment, but it is probable the work of destruction has been going on with little if any intermission for several months past, very slight exertions were so exhausting to her that she could not speak two words in succession without stopping for breath, and as she still grew weaker her cough became more distressing by interrupting respiration so that we were sometimes fearful she would suffocate, she coughed but little however, the last week of her life, still she would frequently have great difficulty in articulating word when she wished to speak. Her confidence in god as a Father and a saviour was strong and constant, still she seemed to be constantly desiring to get nearer to her saviour and enjoy brighter views of his grace and love-but at the needful time she received sufficient grace for the dying hour and with her faint expiring breath she said, "Jesus is coming, oh, how I long to see his face"-and calmly as a sweet babe falling asleep without a struggle or fear-she faded-away.1
I thought the wish expressed by these last words was quickly granted. By watching the deaths of our two last departed Daughters I am led to think that in some cases at least the dying Christian obtains some happifying [sic] view of heavenly scenes before receding life has left, the features quite unimperishable [sic] by the joyous spirit, for when the soft low breathing seemed to cease a placid smile appeared-and lingered till the stiffening muscles fixed it there. They were lovely in life and pleasant to look upon in death, but of the two, Ruth had received the larger gift of loveliness both by nature and by grace.
Mr. Cochrane was very kind and attentive during her illness and while informing her death from the pulpit spoke in terms of the strongest confidence respecting her happy state, and in alluding to the time of her connection with the church, he said she had probably been a proper subject for church fellowship long before, but for lack of confidence had not come forward.
I never weary in dwelling upon the past of whatever relates to my daughters, but lest I weary you, just one sentence more and then I'll stop. I have not doubt that her new birth dates back to some period within your pastorate of the Congregational Church in this town. We rejoice that you have so much blessing to be thankful for, but as there is no unalloyed happiness to be found here below so you are called to mourn the loss of a comparatively large number of dear relatives during the past year. May the Lord grant a sanctified use of the sad bereavements, and a joyous meeting with all those loved departed ones in that land where the people shall no more say they are sick, and they that dwelleth therein shall be forgiven their iniquities.
We had not heard of Alfred's great loss. To be left with a large family of motherless children is an affliction and a trial almost beyond comparison and we deeply commiserate his case and hope that his losses and troubles may be made useful instruments to his spiritual profit. With yourselves we also have great cause for thankfulness for continued health and numberless mercies and blessings. Our oldest daughter Esther is very poorly, she was with us a week and since returning home we hear her health has not improved. With this exception as far as we know our children and grandchildren are enjoying good health.
Thomas is now living with his family in Batavia, Ill., and has a good situation there as accountant &c. in a large paper manufactory. Charles spent the last year at home but last Fall he went back to Kentucky to the same employment he was in year before last. I sent him a message by telegraph and he came home in time to see his sister before she dyed [sic] and has since gone back.
Please remember our kind and Christian regards to Mr. and Mrs. Lillie and family as you have opportunity. We were exceeding sorry we could not entertain the Doctor at our house as formerly when he visited this place last summer, as we had no one but Hattie to take care of the house and her sick sister. I suppose he is now in Montreal. Please accept dear Sir for yourself and family the assurance of our high esteem and Christian sympathy.
1 The death of Ruth in this letter and possibly of her sister ten years earlier (Box 12-823 & 829) may have been caused by Tuberculosis; however, no diagnosis is mentioned, and the treatment centre for the area, Hamilton Mountain Sanatorium did not open until 1906.