February 12, 1860: “She told me, calmly, was the work of death…”
Jacksonville E.F. Sunday
Feb. 12, 60
My dear Madame,
It is with painful emotion that I write […] to communicate the intelligence of the death of Mrs. Hemming which took place only today at 4 p.m. which although sudden at its close was an event long anticipated.
During the day she had been engaged instructing an affected friend in the duties of useful news when she was attacked with a chocking[sic] fit […] which she told me, calmly, was the work of the death. She had previously made he most minute arrangements […] to her approaching end which she
XXX met without a thought, a pang, a fear, of the mysteries of an secrets of the world beyond us.
I feel I have entered on a new era of life — the striking of the hours — the dawn of the morning — the shadows of evening all tell me of the great change. I trust, however, I shall be able — whether it be hours or years, to acquit in self as becomes the faithful parent.
She now sleeps at her request in the brick monument of Col. Hart at the separation[?] of three months to be removed to the family lot in the cemetery where in peace and quiet is all that is left of my good own old father.
This, a consolation to us to know that our bereavement is the work of Him who finds and directs all human events and that the servant he has taken from us died in the arm embrace of […] ever […] and everything repugnant to the Christian.
As I have many letters to write and am in no frame of mind for the task, I bespeak your indulgence for this.
Make kind regards to Judge Brockway[?] & family —your father & mother and the Doctor JC [?].
Note from Carolyn:
It took a couple of weeks to peck away at this translation. It’s funny how words that seemed indecipherable would sometimes jump off the page with a fresh look. You’ll see from the transcription above that there are still a handful of places where single words are beyond my ability to read. The challenge here was not the writing, necessarily, it was the lack of contrast. I used a variety of techniques to enhance contrast — which helped immensely — but wasn’t an end-all-be-all solution.
In case you find it interesting, here’s a behind-the scenes snapshot of what it took to make sense of the writing: