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Thursday, June 23, 2011

"I thought your little heart would break"

George W.E. Row's notes for Bible class

May 10, 1884. The little white gown with a border stitched around it was made for Houston by his Father and I before he was born, in Aunt Nan's room at Greenfield...So begins a letter written by Lizzie Row for her three young children. The letter, really more of an interior monolog, was intended to be read by her children when they were older. By now it had been thirteen months since her beloved husband, George W.E. Row, had died at Sunshine. This had been by far the most difficult period of her life. Lizzie now had sole responsibility for her children. She had to manage Sunshine, a 342 acre farm, without the help of her husband. This included hiring, managing and paying a work force. She was the administratrix of George's estate. Lizzie had to deal with creditors, wind down the saw mill business, find a buyer for the steam engine bought from Benjamin Bowering, contract for the sale of the thousands of shooks lying in the mill yard. The accumulation of her cares and sorrows bore heavily upon her.

From Lizzie's letter to her children

     As she sat writing at the table, a flood of thoughts and memories flowed from her mind to her pen: "I held Houston's head in my hands and his Father cut his hair the day he was ten months old...Two little bouquets in a large Houston envelope were worn, one on my neck and the other on your F[ather's] coat the morning we were married. It was Dec 14, 1875. You can see from letters rec'd from your Father before and since our marriage how kind hearted and affectionate he was.
     "During his sickness before he was unconscious we were alone. I asked him if he still loved me he said 'yes' and put his arms around my neck [and] said 'I love you the house full the barn full and all out of doors.' This is what he used to teach you all to tell him...He was not sick quite two weeks, was not conscious when he died, but breathed quietly. Mabel was at Greenfield, Horace asleep, Houston by me on the bedside. I hope you all will meet him on that beautiful shore.
     "Mabel your Father loved you dearly and I thought your little heart would break when we came back from the burial. You went through the house calling 'Father' and asked me 'Why didn't God let Father stay until tomorrow when I come and wanted to see him so bad.'
     "Dear children you are bright and happy now. You don't know your loss while I am so sad and lonely. Dear little Hossie [Horace] as Father used to call you can't remember sitting in my lap and holding Father's hand while he was sick in bed...
     "This mustache cup was given to Father last Xmas at Shady Grove as a present for teaching Bible class...Your Father was not a church member but I think a Christian. His motto was 'Do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with thy God.'"

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