Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)

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Lt 9, 1881

Brother and Sister

Sacramento, California

October 20, 1881

Portions of this letter are published in TDG 302; 3Bio 173, 180; 2MR 249-250; 6MR 306-307.

Dear Brother and Sister:

I have not had strength or courage to write to any of my friends since the death of my husband, except Mary Clough, who is now Mary Wanless. She wrote to me a very kind, sympathetic letter giving me a cordial invitation to visit them at Colorado Springs, saying they could make me very comfortable and happy and they could take me to places of interest. But I was obliged to write them that I could not come. In the first place, I was not able; second, I had not means. It would cost our party nothing less than seventy-five dollars. I was not able to command means. I found we could get no money to use of the two thousand five hundred due me. I found poverty and sickness everywhere I went. 3LtMs, Lt 9, 1881, par. 1

But now I cannot enter into the details of my husband’s sickness. You will find the account in print. I was told he was not as well. The doctor said it would be well for me to see him. They carried me into his room, and the moment I looked upon him I said, “My husband is dying.” There was the unmistakable signet of death upon his countenance. Oh, how shocked I was! I knelt at his bedside. I prayed most earnestly that he should not die. 3LtMs, Lt 9, 1881, par. 2

It seemed that I could not part with him. I begged Dr. [J. H.] Kellogg to do what he could. He and four attendants worked for the entire night. Stimulus was given him; stimulus was injected directly into the blood of his arms and limbs, and yet he was going down. I talked with him. He answered every question, knew us all, but did not revive. Finally success crowned their efforts. 3LtMs, Lt 9, 1881, par. 3

I was with him all night and the next day at noon he had a chill and from that time he did not sense anything. He just went to sleep, no pain, no suffering. Just as pleasant as a child he breathed his last. Oh, how thankful I was that I was not compelled to see him tortured with agony and have this distressing picture before me day and night. 3LtMs, Lt 9, 1881, par. 4

My life was in great jeopardy. The night after his death two watches were appointed to take charge of me and not to be found asleep for a moment; but I knew not my danger and told them they could sleep. Mary Chinnock and Sister Emma Webber were my attendants. 3LtMs, Lt 9, 1881, par. 5

At twelve o’clock at night my pulse stopped. The doctor [had] said, “Watch the pulse and call me at any change,” for he should not lay off his clothes. He anticipated what was to come. 3LtMs, Lt 9, 1881, par. 6

He was at my bedside in one minute. I was unable to speak, but knew what was going on. I expected to pass away quietly as my husband had done, but the doctor worked unremittingly with the two helpers until three o’clock in the morning. 3LtMs, Lt 9, 1881, par. 7

The strongest electricity was employed; one stood with [a] cake of ice and another with [a] hot sponge and passed first hot, then cold, over the spine for three hours until my pulse, though very weak, and fluttery, was improved. For four nights these faithful hands battled with death and were rewarded by seeing a determined improvement. I was unable to sit up for two weeks. 3LtMs, Lt 9, 1881, par. 8

We telegraphed for Willie and Mary to come. We had every attention given to the body that it should be kept natural. He looked from the first as though he had lain down to sleep like a tired warrior. 3LtMs, Lt 9, 1881, par. 9

In one week from his death Willie and Mary came; also John White. And yet I was unable to sit up. John White said, “Ellen, I am deeply sorry to see you so feeble. A trying ordeal is before you in the funeral services of the morrow. God help you, my dear sister, God help you on this occasion.” 3LtMs, Lt 9, 1881, par. 10

Said I, “Brother John, you do not know me. The more trying the situation, the more fortitude I possess. I shall give way to no outbursts of grief if my heart break. I serve God not impulsively, but intelligently. I have a Saviour who will be to me a very present help in time of trouble. I am a Christian. I know in whom I have believed. He expects from me implicit unwavering submission. 3LtMs, Lt 9, 1881, par. 11

“Undue grief is displeasing to God. I take up my appointed cross and will follow the Lord fully. I will not give myself to abandonment of grief. I will not yield to a morbid and melancholy state of feeling. I will not complain or murmur at the providence of God. Jesus is my Saviour. He lives. He will never leave me nor forsake me.” 3LtMs, Lt 9, 1881, par. 12

Every night for one week great care had to be exercised at midnight until three o’clock in the morning. I never remember experiencing such exhaustion and such inexpressible weakness. 3LtMs, Lt 9, 1881, par. 13

I was carried in a hack to our house on the corner, taken out in a chair, and borne into the house to the side of the coffin, the little girls with me, weeping as though their hearts would break. I looked there upon that dear face for the last time. How noble! How peaceful and good he looked in his last quiet sleep. There was nothing in that countenance to remind us of death. But there was the coffin; on it was placed the beautiful floral cross and crown, placed there by Dr. Kellogg, at his expense, costing thirty dollars. It was composed of pure white double pinks and tube [tuber?] roses. 3LtMs, Lt 9, 1881, par. 14

We then went in hacks to [the] Tabernacle, and I was carried in a chair while the mourners followed. I was laid upon a sofa prepared with pillows. I was carefully watched by the doctor. After Elder [Uriah] Smith had given the funeral discourse, I did so long to say something to let all know that the Christian’s hope was mine and sustained me in that hour of bereavement, but I feared I could not stand upon my feet. 3LtMs, Lt 9, 1881, par. 15

I finally determined to make the trial and the Lord sustained me. The doctor stood ready to “catch me,” he said, if I fell. But Brother John and Willie and Edson were also watching to aid me, but I went through with what I had to say with clearness. 3LtMs, Lt 9, 1881, par. 16

There was much weeping in the house. The hymn was sung and the doctor had me placed in the wheel chair and rolled me out while all the mourners followed and took their places in the hacks. Thus I was saved the ordeal of viewing the dear loved one myself in the presence of the crowd. I had taken my farewell look at the house. I was saved the pain of seeing that packed houseful viewing my husband in his last sleep. A bed was made for me in the large hack, and thus I followed my husband to his last resting place. 3LtMs, Lt 9, 1881, par. 17

One hundred employed in the office, men and women with crepe badges, walked in procession to the grave. Evergreens had been carefully laid in a thick mat all about the grave. I was again placed in the chair and carried to the grave. 3LtMs, Lt 9, 1881, par. 18

In the passage from the road to the grave, we passed under an arch decorated with evergreens, and the path was carpeted with evergreens. All about the grave was thickly matted with evergreens. These evergreens were arranged to completely line the grave so that none of the earth could be seen. An anchor rested at the foot of the grave, the cross, at the head. Several stars were arranged with pure white flowers [and] were interspersed among the evergreens. Mounds of flowers, tastefully arranged, were placed about the grave, and thus we laid our loved one away to rest among the evergreens, emblem of Eden, which he loved so well. I was taken back to the sanitarium. 3LtMs, Lt 9, 1881, par. 19

Sunday I rode out to my home on a bed; Brother John, Willie, Mary, Edson and Emma [White] and Brother John’s son-in-law, in three different teams. Brother John and his son-in-law were greatly delighted with our home, but I was too feeble to sit up at all. The light of my home had gone and henceforth I should love it for his sake who thought so much of it. It just met his taste. It is grandly beautiful, but how can I ever regard it as I could if he had lived? 3LtMs, Lt 9, 1881, par. 20

One short week we had after the funeral. I then, on Sabbath, spoke to the people in my feebleness for the last time before leaving for California. We took the cars for Cal. [the] next Monday. All thought ... [incomplete.] 3LtMs, Lt 9, 1881, par. 21

I feel grateful to God that I was not left to look for my consolation in the friendship of the world. Rely upon human sympathy! No, no. That consolation which comes from the cross of Christ can relieve heart anguish like mine. Even the valley of the shadow of death was lighted by the presence of my Saviour. 3LtMs, Lt 9, 1881, par. 22

I had a close look into eternity, and then the incidents of my life seemed to come with great distinctness before me. I found I had nothing to regret in my labors and earnest efforts to bring souls to Jesus, nothing to regret in my devotion to the truth. 3LtMs, Lt 9, 1881, par. 23

But all that caused me grief was that I had not devoted my life more fully to Jesus and made greater efforts to save poor sinners. How precious they looked to me in that hour when I thought my labors were to be given to them no more. I could not, in that testing hour, trust in my own merits, anything I had done. I could not feel any assurance that because I had tried to be amiable in disposition, because I had been kept from the gross sins and vices, that I could hope for salvation. 3LtMs, Lt 9, 1881, par. 24

I knew then, as I seemed to talk with death, that there must be a renewal of the heart unto righteousness or the crown of glory that fadeth not away can never be worn. My trust was not in my morality but [in] the merits of the blood of a crucified and risen Saviour. When God is made my refuge and Christ is accepted as my Redeemer and the Scriptures are made my guide and counselor, there can be no enchantment against Jacob nor divination against Israel. 3LtMs, Lt 9, 1881, par. 25