The Clements Library website includes events, exhibits, subject guides, newsletter issues, library staff, and more.

Home » Public Programs » Online Exhibits » Confronting Mortality » Nancy Letter to Mary Jane McDonald, March 1846

Nancy Letter to Mary Jane McDonald, March 1846

Nancy Letter to her Sister Mary Jane McDonald; Piqua, [Ohio]: March 1846Women’s History Collection.

             Piqua March 1846
   My dear sister
        For the last three weeks I have intended writing to you, every day something would prevent, untill all this last week, I have been enabled by a very obstinate pain in my breast & side, or rather soreness in my breast, I have worn a tartar plaister for the last 4 days & nights, which has relieved the soreness in some measure but not entirely, I will have to have a blister applied to my side to-morrow, unless it is better in the morning I think my side was strained or injured last Sunday week by lifting little Mary I felt very sick with acute pain for sometime but it passed of thro’ the day & I forgot all about it untill a few days ago. on Monday morning about 4 o’clock I awakened with severe pain & every symptom of Pleurisy for which the Doct treated me with entire success, for I was well enough to go at 10 o’clock to hear Dr Rice preach but it returned next morning as bad as ever & has continued so every day, about the same time in the morning it is discouraging but I hope it will return again so severely as the tartar has made my breast very sore which ought to draw the pain away. I am very anxious to get better on Sarah’s account as she is looking every day to be sick and is so distressed about my not being able to be with her Mother has been sick to taken with what I expect will likely be her death something like an apoplectic fit she became nearly blind & was so for nearly two hours every minute she thought it would pass off but finally her feet hands & almost her whole body became cold & her head very hot she sent for Godwin who fortunately was in the house he went & bled her as soon as he could get her into bed with mustard to her feet & ice to her head

[Margin:] Dr Rice’s preaching was blessed by the Spirit to the awakening of number[s] to their sins nearly all the Young family the old man A[ ] & all the girls Elliot’s two daughters & many others they still continue to hold meeting

[Margin:] Great numbers have been contverted in the Methodist Church W. Leawell Mrs Hart Collin & John Jordon Matilda Mitchell & Many more. Mary Dayton was baptized in our Church on Sunday last

it was some time before she could see very well he kept her in bed all day giving her active medicine she soon got better but has not yet recovered her head did not feel right her neck has been well blistered & she lives very low nothing but crackers & hot water or very weak tea it is reducing her to about half her size & will be the only way to keep those fits from returning Godwin says if she had went a half hour longer she would have had a real apoplectic fit. it alarmed us all when we found how bad she was. Sarah had gone home to stay untill she was over her confinement she is now grieving because she had moved for you know Mother will always be on the move when any thing like that is going on the excitement or if Sarah should not get along well will be very injurious to her. Mother would have her home on her own account, as she was not able or willing to be with her or do much for her in another person’s house, besides their family was so large, if Sally had been housekeeping it would have been different, poor thing she laments all the time that such is not the case, as her & John would both feel better in their own house. he dont feel at home at Mother’s nor she at his Father’s how I wish it was over it seems I could bear it better if it was myself. she does not know what she has to bear. but if we have such excruciating bodily agony in bringing a little mortal into this world, it is far greater anguish, to see the little immortal take its never-returning flight, to see its little spirit striving to be gone, to see the stretching limb the heaving heart, the faint cry, Oh sister sister it is agony such as you have never yet been called to hear, it seems as if my heart will burst when

[Margin:] If I get better I will write again soon, as soon as Sarah is confined in particular your affectionate sister Nancy

its dying hours in all their freshness return to my mind, as its illness was severe & short, its last moments were dreadful, Oh how much it suffered is known only to God, but it was a long contest it was from 4 o’clock untill after six in the agonies of death, every breath it drew I prayed may be the last, its little arms were often thrown over its head, while every feature would be distorted untill we would think its little frame would be torn in pieces, & untill the last breath, it sent out a feeble cry, what a struggle, it seemed to me angels were hovering oe’r it, waiting & witnessing the scene, waiting to carry the pure soul to God who gave it, you cannot imagine what I felt that in a moment more my precious babe who was so dear to my heart so sweet so interesting would soon know more than all the learned the great good or wise it left here on earth, nevermore to feel a pang or shed a tear, it made me feel how selfish how wicked it was to wish to keep it here, when Jesus loved it as well as I, & could be far more tender far more kind. but as he wept at the tomb of his friends so does he allow us to weep for the loved & the lost, not lost but gone to await our coming. but Mary how desolate seems my room, my bed, my arms, my heart, it almost overcomes my better feelings sometimes, I long to press again those sweet lips to inhale her sweet breath & to see her little outstretched arms & sparkling eyes, when I had left her for a while she was exceedingly attached to me for two months before her death & was not contented with anyone else except her father of course she was in my arms almost constantly you will judge how much I feel the void. but I do desire to feel that God in his righteous judgment has done all things well, & only may I be prepared by His Holy Spirit for an entrance

[Margin:] Dear Mary I feel much better this morning I wrote this letter on Sunday for I felt so very bad that it was not unlikely I should have been confined to my bed, so I could not keep from writing

into that blessed abode where she is now forever praising God is all I desire, sometimes I have thought that this present sickness may be the beginning of my last sickness on earth we never know how any illness will end. I do desire to feel that I love my Savior more & more & have the witness of the Spirit witnessing unto my spirit that I am a child of God. Oh sister will you not pray that I may have brighter evidence a more confident hope that I am indeed brought from death unto life I am afraid sometimes that I have not true religion that the hypocrite’s part will be mine. that Christ will at last cast me off, you always seem so calm & firm in your faith & views, have you ever any doubts or fears often I think perhaps my Father in Heaven has given me as much as he sees fit, perhaps I am longing for what would make me to confident or make me trust in my own strength too much, all I do at such times is to pray Lord I believe help th[ou?] my unbelief but sister do pray for me as you pray for your own soul my paper is out & I am not half done. but I have written in much pain tartar is very severe

[Margin:] The children all send their love to yours Give mine & Godwin[‘s] to your husband we recd. his kind & affectionate letter. write soon

[Margin:] Mother is better

[Address:] Mrs Mary Jane McDonald Care of Rev D. K. McDonald Cincinnati Ohio