3 May 1864: “we stood by powerless to comfort or help while it seemed to me that my breast heaved in unison with every sobbing, laboured breath that little Sallie drew.”

Item Description: Diary entry, 3 May 1864 by Sarah Lois Wadley. The Wadleys lived in various places throughout the Civil War including Amite in Tangipahoa Parish, Monroe and Oakland in Ouachita Parish, La., and near Macon, Ga. On May 3rd, Sarah had just visited a woman whose child had been paralyzed by scarlet fever as a baby and was sick again and near death. She also poetically describes a beautiful spring day, along with family affairs. Sarah wrote until 1886 and died in 1920.

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Item Citation: Folder 5, Sarah Lois Wadley Diary #01258, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription:

Tuesday May 3rd, 1864

 I have just finished my late dinner after having been asleep all the morning. Sunday evening Mother, Miss Mary and I went to see Mrs. Hawkins, a poor woman whose only child is very ill, we found the poor little girl at the point of death as we thought, yesterday evening Mother and I went down again, the child was no better and the poor Mother was quite worn out with watching and care. She had no one to sit up that night, and I resolved to stay. Mrs. Lidwell afterwards came over and we persuaded Mother to go to bed, exhaustion conquered her and she slept soundly all night while Mrs. Lidwell and I kept watch. The poor little girl has been sick in bed four weeks, and for a week past has taken scarcely any nourishment, she lay quietly almost all night. I felt so sorry for her, she must be a beautiful child in health, her eyes are large and black, and she has silky golden hair, even attenuated as they are her features are beautiful. She is only six years old, has been afflicted since her infancy with a partial deafness and dumbness caused from scarlet fever, her head is now drawn back and paralized so that she keeps it constantly in a painful position, it seems like it would be a mercy for God to take her to heaven but our poor earthly eyes cannot see this. Just before day Mrs. Lidwell thought she was dying and woke up her Mother, the poor woman wept and sobbed in an agony of grief, we stood by powerless to comfort or help while it seemed to me that my breast heaved in unison with every sobbing, laboured breath that little Sallie drew. In about a half hour she rallied a little, and we left Mrs. Hawkins with a promise to return this evening.

        The morning was fresh and beautiful, the sun was just rising and his earliest rays fell on a scene of exquisite freshness and beauty, gilding the shining green leaves of the oaks and the dusky tops of the pines above, while the wheat field and the road lay in dewy shadow. As I walked slowly homeward I thought of how many such mornings I have risen and looked out on all this beauty, many a time with a glad worshipping heart, but ah too many times with a dimming care and a heart full of my own little daily troubles, not thinking of how many wake every morning to bitter or despairing sorrow. I am afraid I have been too selfish and have confined my cares my hopes too much to the circle of home, I might have done much more, at least I might have thought much more and might have prayed and trusted more than I have done.

        Father went to Millhaven yesterday morning, we do not expect him back until tonight, perhaps he may not come then. Willie has not come yet, Mr. Barr is going to send a servant to Homer Thursday and I shall write to Willie by him. Mr. Barr spent last night here and breakfasted with us this morning. Loring and Eve were a little unwell yesterday and the night before, have recovered now. The weather has been quite cool since the shower we had Saturday night, last night we were afraid there would be frost, but there was none.

        Night–I returned from Mrs. Hawkins’ late this evening, her little girl was still breathing. Oh how sorrowful to see her lie thus, her breath coming gaspingly, and her poor weary eyes seeming dimmed by the shadow of death. I did not think she would have stayed so long, soon she will be one of Heaven’s angels. Our Father knows when to call his children home. When I look at this dying little child how all my cares, my sorrows and my restless yearning fall away from me, what matter is it what troubles we pass through if we only bear them so that we shall be taken to God at last.

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