11 August 1863: “…we ventured once more to urge him to make his peace with God.”

Item description: Letter, dated 11 August 1863, from Mrs. Mary Preston to her relative Mrs. Kennedy, informing her of the death of her nephew, William.  She discusses William’s final days and religious activities surrounding his death.

[transcription available below images]

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Item citation: From the DeRosset Family Papers #214, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Solitude Aug 11th 63

I have just come away from our darling Kate dear Mrs. Kennedy to inform you that last night at two o’clock our poor suf-fering William passed away from this earth of sorrow and trouble and we trust has gone to the Land of Rest. Our poor Kate is overwhelmed but endeavors to shelter beneath the Good Book & request me to ask you if you think she has reason to hope that all is well with her precious brother.  I suppose she wrote you how averse he was to speak of his soul’s interest & how impatient & unstable he often became when the subject was mentioned but after [?] left us we saw a change in him and it became evident his heart was soft-ened & we ventured once more to urge him to make his peace with God & yesterday afternoon after he rallied from prostration occasioned by coughing I asked him if he did not feel how good the Lord was to him to spare him a while longer he said “Oh yes & I am so thankful”.  I said Oh William I wish I could see you resigned to God’s will he replied with emphasis I am & when I would urge him to trust in Jesus he would close his eyes fold his hands & seemed en-gaged in prayer.  When Kate asked him if he prayed all the time he said I pray but not all the time & after our minister prayed with him & was about to leave he urged him to look to Jesus & to commend himself entirely to him he bowed his head & thanked him so earnestly.  We were very fearful the final struggle would be painful but we were spared  that he went to [?] never awoken & passed away quickly & quietly. Not longer before he died I asked him if he was still trusting in Jesus & he said Oh Aunt Mary I am so sick to breathe I can hardly tell how I feel.  I said but Oh [?] ear is ever attentive to prayer no mat-ter how faint how feeble & again he seemed engaged in prayer. I wish I had time to write you a more minute account but I must close & send my letter to the office.  Kate desires me to say she will write in a few days to you.  She is not well looks badly but I think & hope that rest & quiet will soon restore her.  She has had a most anxious time of it & has been untiring in her devotion to her brother.  Dear Annie is quite well.  Eugenia poor child has not improved as I hoped she would & loks badly but I trust she will yet be benefitted by her trip to Virginia.  Kate & Annie join me in love to yourself & Aunt Lizzie & the rest of your household & please dear Mrs. Kennedy ever remember me & mine in your approaches to the Mercy [Lord?],

Affectionately yr friend

M. H. Preston

More about this item: “Mrs. Kennedy” may refer to Catherine DeRosset Kennedy (1800-1889) of Columbia, SC, while “Kate” may be Katherine Douglas DeRosset (1830-1914).

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