Colesville June 8
Mr. Abiezer Phillips,
French Creek or Buckhammon [sic] settlement
Harrison county, Virginia
Windsor, June 1st. 1817
The unwelcome task devolves on me of informing you of the death of my dear and affectionate wife, your amiable and respected sister Margaret. She was delivered of a daughter on the 7th of May last, so comfortable that the second morning after she was able to come and take her breakfast with me at the table. She recovered strength remarkable and everything except the fatal circumstance which was cause of her death appeared flattering for about ten days, when the circumstance above alluded to became alarming. Which was that of having nothing pass her bowels since a few hours before her confinement. Physic was now resorted to, to pervent a fever which must inevitable ensue unless on alterated could be effected. Profuse quantities were administered for two days when our fears were in a measure dissipated by a brisk operation. But alas! how soon was the Sun of hope eclipsed. The operation of physic ceassed and a most excruciating pain in the head commenced. The pain continued unabated until the Wednesday before her death. The pain abated and a kind of stupor ensued. Wrecked by such torturing pain and a scorching fever, her nerves were so debilitated that she was unable to move her left hand or foot for the last three days before her extinction. Her tongue became numb and no longer able to fill its office, except at intervals she uttered broken whispers manifesting deep concern for the welfare of her child. At other times she gave evident proof of a partial privation of sense. All hopes of her recovering were now extingushed and no other signs evinced till Friday. She revived and recovered the use of her tongue so as to be able to speak loud enough to be heard in any part of the room. She said the two preceeding days she had thought she never should get well but now she felt better and desired me to give her some victuals. I gave her food several times in course of the day for which she had a keen appetite and was apparently better so that I again felt some encouragement. But on the following morning, Saturday the 24th, May instant, my fears alas! were again excited. The cold and iron hand of death approached the clayey tabernacle and bid defiance to our every exertion to save her life......
The lamp of life held put to burn till after one in the afternoon when she yield up her breath to that omnicient God who gave and to whose sovereign power every heart must yield.
To part with the object of my every earthly desire and that too without the pathetic consolation of reciprocally taking a long long farewell or with out knowing the state of her soul as it respected her views of eternity, was a trial beyond the power of language to describe.
Nothing remains to console my mind or cheer my languishing spirits but the declaration that "God does not willingly afflict his children but for their eternal good" and the hope of a blessing in the dear pledge of conjugal affections. The child is apparently well and in the care of my relatives. We call her Peggy Eliza. Your mother was with Margaret thro' the last stage of her sickness and both her parents were witnesses of her dissolution. The stroke is severely felt by them. Bereft of their youngest and darling child that seemed to have been given to repair a former loss and in whom they promised themselves much comfort in the decline of life- no relatives at hand to listen to their tale of affliction or participate in their grief but their surviving children (if any), dispersed in different and distant climes with whom they can have no discourse or enjoyment but by letter, and that but seldom, is a case truly pittiable.
Altho. the chain of our connection is broken your parents are entitled to my everlasting friendship and filial regards.
And altho. the prospect of my ever seeing you is blasted I hope to possess a place in your remembrance as the disconsolate stranger mourning the fate of your late blooming and affectionate sister.
With sensations of deep regret Dear friends I perhaps for the last time subscribe myself your afflected brother
Joseph R. Osborn
P.S. You may not have heard that your brother John left this place in a clandestine manner last fall and has never returned. He sent for his family a short time after to the Black River. We have not heard from them since.
I received your letter of the 26th January with pleasure. We were glad to hear that the prospects were not as dubius with you as with us. After the receipt of it your father for the first time insinuated that if he could dispose of his substance here he should have a mind to follow you. What his calculations are at present I an not able to communicate. But I am apt to conclude that the late severe affliction will strengthen his notion.
A general scarcity prevails in this place. Many families are on the point of starving
Joseph R. Osborn
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