With a trembling heart…Sep 2nd, 2009 | By Leonard Legends & Legacies | Category: Real People, Real Stories
In my earliest days of researching my family history, I tried to put myself in my ancestors’ shoes. I wondered what it was like to pack up as many earthly belongings as would fit and LEAVE my family and friends, with a very real possibility I might never see them again.
Worse yet, I wondered what it would be like, given the lack of telephones or even telegraph, to send or receive a long delayed notice that a family member had died. Now I know. Ann Frankenburger Nicklas, granddaughter of our common benefactor Jennie Leonard Hutchinson, recently provided us with just such a letter.
William and Mary (Van Ort) Leonard migrated from Washington County, PA. to Marion County, Ohio in 1855. Two of their sons remained behind, four more, and one daughter, moved even farther west. On September 30, 1868, typhoid fever took the life of William’s bride of forty-four years. Four days later, William mailed the following letter to eldest son Edmund. I added punctuation to make it more readable, but the spelling and form (one continuous paragraph) are original.
Marion Co., Ohio Oct. 4th 68
Dear Children it is with A tremling hart and hand I atempt to write A fue words to you, you must excuse me for all mis takes for this is A hard task for me to write. On the 30th day of September five minutes before the Clock struck four in the afternoon your kind Mother departed this life. She is gone. She is no more. She had her sences to the last. She said all was well, all was well, all was right and that she was not afrade to die. She was Confined to hur bed 16 days. about all that time she suffered beyond all human magination. I think if thare ever was A sincere effort to save life it was hurs. thare was three doctors to see hur. One attended every day but hur time had cum. She is no more. It was tifoid fevour she had. She was buried in the grave yard at Waldo in a nice dry place. we took hur to the Church that she helped to build whare her furnel was preached. thare was a large atendence. She was buryed in the most desant maner. now then, A fue words and I will close. just let me say to you that I feel if all is lost and I am left alone. I have made up my mind to make a sale and brake up hous keeping and work my way what little time I have to stay the best way I can. I have rented my little farm to John Stryn, Mary Jane’s (his daughter’s) man. they have two brothers and two sisters near hear that you have almost forgoten. if Sary (Edmund’s wife Sarah) cant cum try and cum your self if you can on Oct the 8th. all well today that is left of us. Mary Jane with us that week. our little jerman gurl is with us yet. now then Edmund and Sary I want your advice. what du we sel. Sel all about the house that your mother and I have worked so long for or not. please tel me what you think is best for I hardley know my one (own) mind. you must excuse me for not writing sooner. this is the first letter I have wrote, pleas to ansure (answer) this soon as in cums to hand. from your old father but cant say Mother.
The letter speaks for itself and certainly doesn’t need any interpretation from me. Now imagine having to write that same letter at least four more times.
I’ll post scans of the letter, when I get some spare time, under William’s database profile.
Next week (I hope), the story of the discovery of not one, not two, but THREE historically significant family Bibles… one of them more than two HUNDRED years old!