Letter from J. S. Rankin

The following letter was transcribed by Kathy Tucker of Seattle, WA for inclusion at the Genealogy in Washington Co., PA web site in March 1998.

Kathy writes:

This letter from Pastor James Sloan to my g-g-g-grandfather Samuel Thomas upon the death of his wife Elizabeth in 1864. I believe Mr. Sloan had been the family pastor and had moved to a different congregation. The Thomas family was living in Dunningsville at the time of this letter.


Waynesburg April 12 1864

Mr. Samuel Thomas 

Dear sir 
The multiplicity of business, which has crowded on me for some time, 
has prevented me from addressing to you a letter of condolence in your 
late severe affliction. I truly sympathized with you in the time of your 
sadness and sorrow. No one knows the anguish of separation from a 
beloved partner, but he who has experienced it. I have felt the 
loneliness and sadness consequent upon such an event. I still remember, 
and never can forget the untold sorrow arising from the consciousness of 
the loss of a beloveds wife. Every object was a memorial of the departed 
one. After an absence from home, on my return to that consecrated spot, 
I met with no welcome smile, but with a bleeding heart was compelled to 
enter that desolated abode, heretofore made cheerful by the presence of 
that loved one, who mingled here sympathies with me in all my joys and 
sorrows too. How crushing the thought! “Thou art gone to the gram(?)”. I 
was left with an infant, two weeks old, and who did not know her mother 
was dead. and was permitted for a few short hours unconsciously to 
nestle in that bosom, which throbbed with a mother’s heart - with a 
mother’s undying love. Your case was different. Mrs Thomas lived long 
enough to have children around her, who could appreciate her worth, who 
had experienced her kindness, and love, and some of whom could only lisp 
(?) the endearing name, “My Mother.” You have sustained a loss. Oh! What 
a loss! -- My dear Friend, allow your old pastor to condole with you, to 
tender his heartfelt sympathies with you, suffering under the bereaving 
hands of your heavenly Father. It would have been a priveledge for me, 
(however mournful) to have been with you in the time of your affliction. 
I baptized Mrs Thomas and received her as a member of the Visible 
Church, and it would have refreshed my often sorrowful heart to have 
heard her dying tesitmony. I esteemed Mrs Thomas, as a kind friend, and 
a consistent christian. One who adorned her profession. If I am so happy 
as to reach the mansions of bliss and glory in heaven, I have no doubts, 
but I will meet her there. I shall never see her again, in this world, 
and partake of her kind hospitality, but I shall meet her, where all 
God’s children shall meet to part no more. “Where those exhaustly germs 
of piety shall appear in new branches of vigor, new forms of beauty, and 
new clusters of fruit, as eternal ages run their ceaseless rounds. Where 
the immortal spirit, will spring into a life, where it shall have a 
wider range, and act a nobler part. My dear Friend, “you sorrow not as 
those who have no hope.” Your beloved wife sleeps in Jesus, and he will 
bring her with him, “when the ransomed of the Lord shall return to Mt. 
Zion (?), with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads.” What a sweet 
hope! The sweetest that can enter into the soul of man. Indulge this 
hope. Tho the object of your affections has faded in the tomb, yet her 
disembodied spirit blooms in glory. In your hours of loneliness and 
sadness, let your thoughts follow her to that land, where the sun never 
sets, and all is high eternal noon. I have heard with sorrow that your 
daughter Nancy Jane, is sick. I hope it may not prove serious, but that 
she may soon again enjoy her usual health. My earnest prayer is that she 
may be prepared for any event, which may await her in the dispentions of 
God’s providence. I do not say it to flatter, but I do consider Nancy J. 
Thomas as one of the most amiable and excellent young ladies amongst my 
acquaintances. I often call to mind the happy evenings spent by our 
children together. Those were happy days, but how sad the thought that 
they have passed away never to return. My little family is separated and 
never to return to our old home. I fear I shall never find a spot, that 
I call home again. I am trying to learn to say, “Thy will be done.” Dear 
Bro, cast all your cares onto the Lord. He will sustain you. Plead his 
promises. He is faithful. May heaven’s riches blessing rest on you as a 
family. I still hope Isaiah is living and will ere long return home. My 
kindest regards to yourself, and all of your children, and especially to 
Nancy Jane and tell her she has the sincere prayer of her old pastor for 
her recovery, and her salvation, yours, James Sloan
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