[This letter was sent c/o Dr. Calvin McQuesten.]W-MCP5-6.324 TO ESTIMATE RUTH ESTHER (ESTY) (BALDWIN) MCQUESTEN from her brother William Baldwin
Jul 12 1846
To: Estimate Ruth Esther Baldwin McQuesten, Hamilton, Canada,
From: Lawrenceville, Lawrence County, Illinois, [U.S.A]
My Dear Sister Estimate,
Oh; how shall I addrefs1 you at this time and on such heart rending intelligence as it has become my duty to inform you; Oh sister I must call you for you are the only one I now have this side of New Hampshire for our dearly beloved sister Harriett is no more we have just this moment returned from her burial. We have often met & spoken of the sweet visit from you since you left and Harriett has seemed most--more happy & cheerful since you left than before & so have we all. We all attended the Celebration together on the 4th Inst. and Harriett seemed unusually cheerful came home & was taken with a vomiting that night was better the next morning & said that as she had attended the Celebration it was her duty to attend church--went to church--& very unwell throughout the service. I spoke to her after the meeting she said she was very unwell & hardly fealt able to walk home reach home with one of her Neighbours was taken a vomiting shortly after going home for a short time was taken again in the night & continued on until Monday 12. The Dr. succeeded in getting her vomiting alayed & gave her attar medicine copiously but they did not act & with every effort he could use could not get an operation on her bowell until Tuesday Eve 6 o'clock, from that time on until Thursday Eve all this time she was conscious of all going on but was so sick that she was not able to converse but could say yes & no once in a while and we thought her better from wednesday morning until the turn of the Night wednesday night & she thought her self better. The Dr. sent Sabra over on Monday Morning directly after breakfast for some Wine & for Abby & [?] left to go over from the [Mounce?] which she done her arrand we did not think her dangerous but I told Abby we had better go over and I sadled the mare for her & she went amediately I had just commenced Haying & was fiting up my Haying tools which were very much out of order & did not think it particularly nessassary for me to go at that time in the afternoon between 4 & 5 o'clock then came up one of the most violent hail and thunder storms which we have had for several years, which lasted until nearly sunset which prevented me from going over to the Dr.'s as I had anticapated after tea and as it was so stormy I did not expect Abby to return--and as we had not heard anything further did not think Harriett dangerous but I had just got in bed when a messenger came for me with the intelligence that if I wished to see Harriett alive to come quick. I was struck with astonishment & fealt heavy convictions for not going down in the morning but I up & was there in a few minutes I found Harriett very sick--but sensible. I conversed with her upon the subject of death found her calm & composed said she had a hope in Christ & was willing to die had no desire to live only for her children--but she could trust them in the hands of him who had promised that He would not forsake the Righteous, no sir this sure beging breath I asked her what she wished to have done with her children in case she should be taken away, she said that you was to take them that this was an arrangement which you & she had made & I questioned her no further this time found that she was not able to converse she said that she was in hopes I would have come over in the morning I later told her that Sabra did not inform me that she was much sick & had I have known--that she was so low I should have come & was sorry that I did not know it before. We stayed until Wednesday evening when she seemed much better & as Abby had been now there three days & two nights and my self two days & two nights our Friends thought it advisable for us to go home & get some rest. We accordingly did so left then a little before dark--& went back on Thursday morning before 7 o'clock--Mary found her much worse and was informed by her attendants that she had been failing from about 3 in the morning. I thought it expedient for her to see her children and asked her if she would not like to see them and if I should not send for little Esty--she had her sent away to Mrs. Denisons on Monday morning--Harriett replied that she would and I had her sent for amediately when she was brot I took Esty in my arms and let Mary Frances up to the bed I asked her if she knew her children--she replied yes indeed & looked at them with deep anxiety & seemed to exprefs a desire to embrace them I put Estimate to her face she kissed both of her children and then [?] for the Dr. The Dr. had been taken violently sick the day before & was vomiting a good part of his time & under the influence of Calomel & Oil & which rendered him unable to be off of his bed but when he heard his name called he got amediatly up came to Harriett and asked her what she wanted Harriett did not seem to recognize him & fell into a stupor I thought she wished to say something to him about the children she had talked some before to me & my wife spoke of the faithfulness of Abby to her--on Monday and also how carefully I handled her when I waited on her up as we had often to do whilst her medicine was operating she said that we done first-rate She did not utter a murmuring or complaning word through all her sicknefs and she was truly a pattern of patience & submision--She departed this life on Saturday morn about 8 o'clock--her death is taken very hard by us all and not more so by any others Mary Frances who wept bitterly & cried aloud, My Mother, My Mother. The Dr. gave every attention to Harriett in his power & has deeply felt his affliction--he was able to attend the Funerall servises which was held in the grove in front of the church but not able to follow her remains to the grave and although out of her numerous connections there were but three in number to attend her remains to the Hour appointed for all the living yet there was a large concourse of people which accompanyed us say 200 in number She had has every attention through her sicknefs that could be desired and we trust that a fatigued boddy I have been with Brother and Sister Flanders through all their affliction and have endeavoured to discharge the duties of a Brother faithfully & Abby has done her part like an own Sister
Do write, yours truly
Monday Morning 13th inst. As I have written on this what so as to be obliged to enclose in a rapper I thought I would write one word more I have heard from [David?] this morning he is not quite so well I have just got a letter from Bill writes from Buffalo Date June 29th all well. Mrs. Bill had our chill on her way & would say one word to you by the way of [?] Bennett I presented him with your gift he exprefsed much gratitude & he has visited Harriett 3 times in her sicknefs & Preached her funeral sermon and he did not fail to interest his audience he dwelt much upon the Christian charicter & the great lofs which both church & community had sustained in this Berevement but it was God that had done it and it was his will to remove her--for his own Glory.
She has many deep & sincere mourners my dear sister & I hope you will excuse this imperfect schroll as it is the production of a worn out mind
1 Two notes on transcription: (1) The writer uses the now archaic convention of "fs" for "ss" throughout, which we have retained. (2) The letter is written under extreme distress, containing many errors in spelling and punctuation. We have transcribed it as written in order to convey the emotional state of the writer.