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The following Family Letter was provided by Connie Corbett, 21 August 2001.
Letter to Mollie Soward (typed as written)
ADRESS ON ENVELOPE: Miss Mollie E. Soward
Mound City, KS
From Hahnville, LA 12/24/ 188(5?)
Dear Friend Mollie,
Your very welcome and interesting letter which was duly received, fully
compensated for the delay. I cannot express how much good it did me – so much has
happened that I scarcely know where to begin. Perhaps it would prove most satisfactory
to begin where I left off. I continued taking medicine of Dr. Webb until July 2nd, when
the thought occurred to my mind that surely I could do more to glorify God by living,
than dying. The thought gave me hope and I prayed that I might be cured through Dr.
Webb’s agency – then the thought, that if God could cure me through Dr. Webb’s
agency, He could cure me Himself if I would trust Him came to my mind. I accordingly
decided to discard all medicine, and trust the “Great Healer” for my restoration to health.
It was easy for me to believe that God could cure me, more difficult to exercise faith that
He cures me now. On the morning of the 4th, which is a memorable day to me. I prayed
oh so earnestly that God would give me to know that my lung was healed. From the time
that I had decided to trust in God, my strength was sufficient for me to work, as I had not
been able to, for weeks. Lulu, Fannie and I were each busy in the kitchen. I was kneading
the bread, and I felt so badly because I wanted to know that my lung was healed. I asked
the girls to pray for me, and in a few moments I received full assurance that my lung was
healed. I cannot tell you how humble I felt, and how grateful to God. My whole soul was
full of praise and thanksgiving. I never before had known what it was to enjoy the
fullness of the “love of God.” But not until the evening of the 6th did I succeed in
exercising the proper faith for the restoration of my voice; and when I knew that I again,
after seven months hoarseness, had control of my vocal chords, I just wept for joy. My
voice was perfectly natural. I learned the next Friday that Alice Rogers, one of the
neighbor girls, and rather an intimate friend of mine, had come home with the expectation
of dying, from consumption. She had been out West, keeping house for her brother. Her
disease had troubled her since she was twelve years old. I went up to see her Friday P. M.
and she wanted to know how I had been cured. I told her, and that afternoon she was
enabled by divine grace to ask, believe and receive. We had the pleasure of seeing one
another, and conversing on the theme nearest our hearts, several times before I left.
Mollie, I wish you could experience such nearness to God. Such a sweet
realization of God, and his love to fallen man. On the morning of the 11th, I realized for
the first time, that God is Love. Often as I had seen that sentence, and even sung it, I
never knew its meaning til then; and you cannot imagine how it extended my views, and
developed charitable feelings. Correspondence is so unsatisfactory. How I would love to
have an opportunity to converse freely with you on so many topics. My mind has
wonderfully changed about a great many things. You know, Paul says “ If meat maketh
my weak brother to offend I will eat no meat for so long as the world standeth.” After
thinking very seriously over the matter, for I believe it is natural for most persons to
desire to appear pleasing to others, and happening to read -----*, I decided to quit wearing
all kinds of jewelry, and superfluous articles, and to dress neatly and plainly. Do you not
think christians sin, in following the fashions? I did not know, Mollie, that there was so
much vain pride in my heart; it required considerable moral courage, on my part, to stand
“alone”, because I could not conscientiously go with the throng; but, after I had made a
complete surrender, it seemed to me that Jesus had taken all the burden, and left me
nothing to do, but love and serve Him.
During July we worked very hard, having hired help on the farm most of the time.
You know Lulu had deferred their marriage simply on account of my ill health and when
she knew I was well, she wrote to Mr. Higgins telling him he could come whenever most
convenient for him to leave his apiary; but we did not think of him coming until the latter
part of August, anyhow. Imagine our surprise when we received a telegram Saturday
P. M. July 25th that he would be at Levy on the evening of the 27th, and if possible would
like to have arrangements made to return Tuesday morning. Well, we went to work, and
continued until after 11 O’clock Saturday P. M. We had such a beautiful Sabbath and
knowing it would be the last one Lulu would spend with us for a long time, we made it as
enjoyable as we could. It was truly a peaceful Sabbath, for Lulu had lately received a
deeper work of grace, and Fannie, Mother’s “baby girl” had been converted.
Monday morning Lulu and Fannie got up at 3 A. M., made a “raid” on the
chickens and secured 4, which had to be prepared for supper and lunch. It would be
impossible to tell you all we did that day. Suffice it to say that we did not get through
until 1 O’clock A. M. - Brother Homer, his wife and children, came up with Mr. H –
although we were very tired, we had a pleasant time. We had breakfast over, and
everything ready to start to Conway, a town nine miles southeast, at 5 A. M. They were
married at the residence of the Methodist minister, with whom arrangements had been
made. The ceremony was very impressive; I felt sad. Fannie, Edith Smith, an intimate
friend, and I went as far as Wichita with them. We girls went up into the city, did our
shopping and returned on the afternoon train. We had an eventful time. If we ever have
the pleasure of meeting, remind me of it, and I will tell you about it. It would be too
tedious to write. I fear your patience will be severely tried, as it is. Before Mother died,
she told Father that she wanted Harry, Fannie and I to attend school in Fort Scott this
year. She wanted Father just to move there, and stay as long as we wanted to go to
college. But Father thought he could not leave the farm. I wanted him to have a good
christian lady, of whom we knew, and her husband, to keep house for him and Fred until
our return. Well, I did not know what to do. I then said that I would stay at home and
keep house and Harry and Fanny could go and board. We had thought of boarding
ourselves as Edith and Charlie Smith were to go, too, and room with us; but Harry and
Fannie would not consent to go without me. Finally, things were satisfactorily arranged,
and we went, anticipating a pleasant and instructive year.
Professors Sanders had secured a neat little house, containing two rooms, which
we furnished, and had everything ready to begin school Tuesday morning. But I must not
forget to mention that the first familiar face I saw on the train was Berthas. She was
returning from Harper County. She was sitting three seats in front of us, on the opposite
side of the car. I looked at her for some time before I felt certain it was her. I waited for
her to turn around, which she did in a few moments. She recognized me and motioned for
me to come and sit with her. She then seemed to act like Bertha; but that was the only
time, until I left Fort Scott. She stopped at her parents, to remain til Monday. It is as
much of a mystery to me as ever, why she acts so, or acted so, unless it was because she
had allowed herself to become intellectually engrossed, to the exclusion of any spiritual
progress, and did not feel at home with me, as she used to. That is only a surmise,
however, and may be incorrect. I felt so sorry for her, on account of her sickness, and
sincerely hope Dr. Coe will give her permanent relief.
Not long after Bertha left the train, Professor Selby and Mr. Nold got on, and
remained til three p.m. The time was pleasantly spent. They had been conducting an
Institute at Newton, or Chanute. Mr. Selby was returning to Washington, where he will
be stationed this year, after which he contemplates a three years course in a law school.
The first two weeks of school it rained nearly every day, and was so cool that we had a
fire in our room. I went to school, regularly, regardless of the weather, and the result was,
I took a severe cold which caused my “menses” to cease, and of course, I again began
coughing, for with hot weather, and overwork I had had no chance to regain strength
sufficient to resist the cold. Well, I continued going for six weeks, when I knew if I did
not soon stop and try to take care of myself that all attempts in that direction would be
fruitless. Oh how sorry I felt when I was getting along so nicely; but I had sinned against
the laws of health, and would have to suffer for it. My studies were geology, geometry,
algebra and music. Professor Stryker had charge of the scientific course. He is a splendid
teacher. Marriage almost transformed him. He is so much pleasanter, and kinder during
recitation, that is, he is not so “gruff” and “blunt” as formerly. Few of the old students
were in attendance. It did not seem like the same place. So often I wished you were there.
Hattie Dyer is taking the classic this year with Bertha. They are getting along nicely.
Bertha has not been able to pay any attention to elocution; but she is considered the best
debater. I had intended remaining in Fort Scott with Harry and Fanny and do the best I
could for myself when much to my surprise I received money from home to go South and
spend the winter with Lulu. I left Fort Scott November 4th and arrived in N.O. at 7 a.m.
on November 7th. I got along nicely as I came through in a sleeping car. Only made me
change; but I had to remain in St. Louis from 7 a.m. til 9 p.m. November 5th. I only rode
in the daytime through Tennessee and northern Mississippi. It rained nearly all the time
so that the country appeared at a disadvantage. So many negroes! It was quite a distance
from the depot in New Orleans to the wharf where I was to take the “Whisper”, for
Hahnville, 28 miles up the river. When riding through the streets, the water was up to the
horses knees; but they said it would drain off in half an hour after it ceased raining. I got
on the boat about 8 a.m. and it did not start til 12 midnight; but the time was pleasantly
spent watching the many boats, and the busy throng about the wharf. I saw a large flock
of seagulls, and had the pleasure of witnessing a ship go out to sea, and saw several
others that would soon sail. It is needless to say that I enjoyed the ride on the great
“Father of Waters”.
The scenery was lovely, orange groves with trees full of bright fruit;
with the remains of the “negro quarters”, in the background; large fields of cane; sugar
house, etc. Mr. Higgins met me at the landing and in a little awhile I was with my dear sister
again. They have been so good, and kind to me. A good rest and mild climate have helped me
for I am gaining in flesh and strength. I only weighted 97 pounds when I went to F.S. After I
came down here, at Mr. Higgins earnest request, I wrote to Dr. Foote, of New York,
concerning my case and he said it was all caused by scrofula in my system. He makes
chronic diseases a specialty; and he said he thought he could cleanse my system of Scrofula
if I would follow his directions. I sent for a two months treatment $27. I do not know how long
it will take to cure me. You do not know how sorry I feel to make so much trouble and expense
to the family; But perhaps I will be able to repay them sometime. Of course they do not think of
it as I do.
I hope my dear friend, that you will forgive me for writing such an “egotistical”
letter; but it seemed after I began that I could find no stopping place. I was pleased to
learn you anticipated such a pleasant year, and hope your expectations will be fully
realized. What a grand priveledge you enjoy in being so connected with the WCTU. You
speak of a much needed in the organization of your S.S. Have you ever read “The Four
Girls of Chatauqua,” and the Chataqua Girls at Home by Pansy? They are said to be
founded on facts and in the latter one one of the characters Miss Wilbur was simalarily
situated. She went to the minister and quietly and earnestly told him how she thought the
SS could be improved, and he acted on her suggestion. Perhaps that would be the wisest
plan you could pursue. I am just hungry to be at work for the Master. This is a depraved
community. No Sunday laws, no churches except “colored”, and “Catholic”. The white
people are nearly illiterate Creoles. We have had a copy of Wesleys sermons which has
been a source of great comfort to us. Among others it contains thirteen discourses on
“The Sermon on The Mount” in which he comments on every verse. It is grand. I have
had the priveledge of reading more since I have been here, than for a long time. Then of
evenings, Mr. Higgins has read us the history of “Rome” and is about half way through
the history of Greece. After which he will read general history. It is very pleasant as well
I agree with you in being slow to make friends. Among our list of acquaintences,
how few truly congenial friends we find; and how precious are those few. I would have
enjoyed listening to your recitation and heartily congratulate you. It was certainly quite
an honor, and I know well deserved, to receive first prize. Your watch must be very
pretty. Did you get a chain? If you have a plain waist pattern will you please cut it off and
send it to me? Also a sleeve pattern. Charlie and Lulu do not expect to make this their
permanent home but will probably locate in northern Mississippi. I will not go home til
March or April, and I will be very glad to hear from you while here. Lulu joins me in
sending love. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year I close.
Your true friend,
* On the outside of the envelope the reference to the word omitted on page 2 is addressed
as follows: “I omitted the reference Peter III, 3,4.”
Last update: Sunday, March 23, 2003 00:26:07
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