This is a NEGenWeb Project web page
and is presented as part of the
MARDOS Memorial Library Collection.
On the 11th day of December, 1876, near Providence, Bureau county, Illinois, the subject of this sketch was born. I seemed to be a healthy baby, and for a short time grew as other children. But at four weeks old, my bones began to snap and break. One day I cried all day, and my mother wondered what could be the matter. She found out that one of my limbs was broken. In time it healed, and lo an arm broke. This had no more than recovered when the other arm broke. And thus my bones would break, one after another, for six long year's. Whenever I was moved, it caused me great suffering. My bones being very soft and tender, just the least thing would cause them to break. One day my little sister Lenora, two years older, was showing me how some people shook hands at meeting. As she shook my hand to show me, my arm broke.
I knew nothing of the pleasures of childhood. I could not play as other children, but had to sit still in the house and look out at the other children; and part of the time was not even able to sit up. I was doctored but without any apparent benefit. The doctors in those days did not seem to understand my case. But the doctors now say it was an extreme case of the rickets, such as they have read about but have very rarely seen. My mother prayed for the Lord to take me out of my intense suffering. There was not a thought that I could live. My burial clothes were made, and everybody expected that they would shortly be needed. But God saw fit to let me live. His thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are His ways our ways. If any one had said to my mother that I should live to be twenty-eight year's old, she would have said it was out of the question. I stopped growing. For years my weight was only twenty-four or twenty-five pouns; but in later years I have gained some in weight, though not in height. My weight at the present time is about fifty pounds and my height about thirty-three inches. I ride in a baby carriage or go-cart, and am often taken for a baby and spoken to as such.
As I go about, being,so small for my age, I am quite,a curiosity to strangers. I have often been amused when people would crowd around me and ask mother or Sister Katie questions about me, such as, "Can she talk?" "Is she smart?" "How old is the baby?" 'Has she got feet?" "Can she use her hands?" "Oh what a big baby!" One lady on the train, not long ago, came up to me and began to talk baby talk. "Hello, sir! Hello, sir! Boo!" This was indeed amusing to me. It drew the attention of every one in the car. Of course, the baby did not respond in the way she expected, she supposing it would laugh and crow. When I was explained to her she was somewhat taken back.
I am often asked if I do not get tired sitting all the time. Of course, I know nothing else only sit, as I never walked a step in my life. I know it must be grand to be able to walk, but I know nothing from experience, of the pleasures of walking. Some day, I expect to walk the streets of the New Jerusalem just as well as those who now have the full use of their feet; and that will be exceedingly grand.
If I had been strong and healthy like other children and young people, perhaps I should not have known the Lord. I might now have been running after the pleasures of the world. I can't remember when I first began to pray. One day while lying on the bed in my room alone, the Lord came to me. I wanted to be a Christian and know that I was saved. While praying for this the Lord heard my prayer and blessed my soul. I was not at that time, more than five years old, and I have served the Lord ever since. I am thankful I have been preserved and kept from the wickedness of the world.
The Lord is so good to me. He often comes to my heart with such refreshing peace. He melts my heart so that it is easy to pray. I say, Oh, Lord, just help me to pray and prevail with Thee for others." This world is full of suffering humanity. There are many in distress, running after the world, seeking peace and finding none. The Lord helps me to pray for such. I cannot help longing to be in the active work of the Lord, helping to rescue poor lost souls, and those who are blinded in sin. But perhaps God can get more glory out of me as an invalid than He could if I were well. He can help me to pray for those who are strong and able to work in His vineyard. I know there is nothing accomplished for God without earnest prayer. So I am content to fill my little corner and be what God wants me to be. I say from my heart, "Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven."
I was necessarily deprived, to a great extent of school privileges. My sisters taught me my letters and how to spell. I loved to learn. After we moved to Kansas, my sister Sarah taught school near a place called Big Bend, but afterward named Speed. There was no schoolhouse in the neighborhood, so she taught in one room of our house. This was a large room and served quite well for the purpose. This gave me a chance to go to school at home. I was greatly delighted; and as it did not hurt me to sit in school, I was allowed to study as much as I liked.
In time, my sisters went away from home to Orleans, Nebraska, to attend school at the Seminary. Then my father moved to Orleans to give them the benefit of the school. We settled close to the seminary to be handy to school and church; but still no one thought it possible for me to attend school, until in 1889, when my dear friend, Emma H. Hillmon, now Mrs. Emma H. Haviland, was Principal of the Seminary. God put it into her heart to give me a chance to go to school. She came to see my mother and offered to give me free tuition in the seminary, and urged mother to send me. So every day I was wheeled to school in my invalid chair, which friends on the Sappa had kindly donated me; and was carried up the steps to the school room by mother or Katie, and placed at my desk, where I sat until lessons were over and they came for me at noon and night. My bones did not break any more. I was comparatively healthy, and nothing prevented my attending school. I was now fairly started in school and eager to learn. The following year the seminary closed; but the next year, under Rev. C. E. Harroun, Jr., the way was again open for me to attend school, and I gladly embraced the opportunity.
Ever since I was old enough to know anything about the awful curse of strong drink, I have been greatly interested in temperance work, and have felt like lifting my voice in this grand cause whenever opportunity presented. I have many times felt the blessing of God in singing temperance songs or in speaking temperance recitations. While in school at Orleans several young people were carefully trained by Sister Emma Hillmon on the Demorest Medal temperance recitations. These were spoken from time to time in the Seminary chapel before large audiences. Judges were appointed who were to observe critically every word and gesture and award the medal to the best speaker. It was in one of these contests that I won the silver medal which I have on in my picture, shown on another page. This medal I could never wear for pride or show, but only on special occasions to show my interest in the temperance cause and my relation to it.
Rev. J. Adams, now living at Greenville, Illinois, but at that time pastor at Orleans, sometimes gave temperance lectures around at county schoolhouses. At such times he would often take with him some of the students from the seminary to sing, and I was sometimes called upon to speak or sing in these meetings.
Of later years my thoughts and attention have been called more particularly to foreign missionary work. When my dear friend, Miss Hillmon, left Orleans, on her way to Africa, my heart was stirred. I. longed to go too and work for the elevation and salvation of my own race. All the years she was in Africa I was in close correspondence with her, and felt that in spirit, if not in bodily presence, I was by her side. Since, I have had the pleasure of meeting several dlfferent missionaries from Africa, India, and. China, and have come to feel a deep interest in every heathen land. Since I can never go myself to carry the Gospel to the heathen, I esteem it a great privilege to help hold the ropes in this country, and to pray for and encourage those who go.
As I look back over my past life, and remember how good the Lord has been to me through all my sufferings, I am made to wonder. But if He can get any glory out of my life I shall be satisfied. There have been persons who would say to my mother, "Why don't you take her to the show or museum? That wouldn't be any harm and you could make your living easily." Others would say, "There is a fortune in that girl." Quite recently a gentleman said to my niece, as he saw me for the first time, "There is ready money."
But, dear reader, God did not create me for this purpose. He created me for His glory, and if I can be a help to any one, and if God can get glory to His name out of my life, amen! To this end shall I live. It has never been a temptation to me to want to go with a show or to be in a museum for money making purposes. I once went to a museum in Chicago just to see and learn. I was asked by one there why I did not speak to the manager and get a place in the museum, and make lots of money. Oh, no! Such places are not for me. God wants me to live for Him, and I could not do it there. I must keep separated from the world. "Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you; and will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." The love of God in my heart keeps me from wanting to do the things that God disapproves and I love to do the things that He approves.
Some wonder how I can be happy in my condition. It is the sunlight of God in my soul that makes me happy. It would be hard to live without the Lord. I get much pleasure from the reading of good books. I enjoy looking at the beautiful things in nature and in art. I love to listen to the singing of the birds and to sweet music. In fact many pleasures come to me through the five senses, of which I have full use. Then too, I have good use of my hands and can work and earn a little. And of the little I earn, the Lord gets the tenth. That is His. I am so thankful that the Lord enables me to work in this way. For if I could not use my hands, or if I could not read, time would drag heavily, and life would become very monotonous. The work I do is knitting, crocheting, fancy work, and making horse hair watch chains. The Lord always provides a way for His children.
And then I am blessed in having a host of friends. Every one is so good to me, and seeks to make my life pleaaant and cheerful. I have many pleasant hours with the teachers and students of the Orleans Seminary. I can never forget them. They have been such a help to me.
Another blessing I enjoy is a comfortable home, just a few rods from the seminary, where I attend Sunday School and church. Our home is a home where the Lord has come to dwell. Our family is small now. A part have crossed over the river. There are five girls left, myself and four sisters, three of whom are married. Our family now at home consists of mother, myself, and Sister Katie, my faithful attendant. I am thankful to God that He has spared to me my dear mother and sister, who have cared for me so kindly and tenderly all these years. In all of my helplessness, and now more especially in mother's old age and failing health, Katie has been and is today our cheerful and faithful standby. She has surely had abundant opportunities for the exercise of patience. Of her it shall be said, "She hath done what she could." "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
|Back||Table of Contents||Next|