Friday, September 29, 2017

Susan Carhart Tallmon Diary...1877-78

Susan Carhart Tallmon was married in March 1862 at 19. Her first daughter, Grace Melissa was born in January 1863. Next January she left Iowa to join her Union cavalry husband in Baton Rouge. Her one year old was bitten by a stray dog and died of hydrophobia, March 1864. Her next daughter, Ada Morganza, was born in Baton Rouge in January of 1865. She then had six more kids.

In August of 1877, Ada tried to light damp kindling in the family cookstove with kerosene and was burned to death before her mother's eyes.

The first letter about Faith was written in June of 1877. The second was written in January of 1878, just before the birth of her daughter Margaret Amanda. My great great grandmother Angelina was born in 1866 and was witness to all this.

Susan was raised in Up State New York at the time of Seneca Falls....a hotbed of feminism for that time.

June 2, 1877

We do we not experience more faith? Do we not trust in God?  Do we think that if he is good and perfect he must have put in us when making us a sufficient sence (sic) of what is for our best good and that therefore we know what will be for benefit to have and do and be?  Can we not consider the possibility of our shortsightedness, of ignorance almost infinite

Suppose a baby on its mother’s knee, trying to reach a lighted candle….Mamma prevents his reaching it.  He struggles and snatches.  She moves him farther from the object of his desire and exhorts and threatens.  How great is his indignation and righteous anger?..How sure he must be that the same power even his maternal parent who has transmitted to him his physical vigor…his delight in beauty and brightness…she who has been and must be his loving providence…has made that candle for him to have and to hold.  The very nature of things…that of the boy and the candle prove conclusively to him that they were made and predestined for each other.  Therefore the commands and warnings he hears are unmeaning or unimportant.   And when he has exhausted not his will but his body in kicking and screaming and the wise but tender mother gives him a lesson in natural history by bringing the least possible taste of fire in contact with his fingers how quickly and completely he learns the lesson he need not have learned the capacity for of faith which lies within each of us.
Sometimes faith is illustrated by telling of a child leaping in the dark to its father’s arms.  The arms are sure and safe and kind, but without faith the child cannot reach them.

I knew a you woman (myself) who had no experience beyond the neighborhood of her father’s farm, who during our Civil War left her father’s house and made a journey of hundreds of miles into the midst of the South, alone with her baby, all because of her faith in the few lines of a letter…as she believed in her husband’s writing.

The experiences of each hour was over new ground, was a revelation in its realities and its possibilities…was (she afterwards admitted) like stepping off a bridge, but she thought not of turning back.  Possibly with more worldly wisdom she would have wavered in her purpose, but no earthly wisdom ever yet proved unfavorable to the beauty and glory of the Christians walk by faith in God.

If this young woman could leave her friends and go among strange scenes and people braving the dangers of climate, of contagion in hospital, of blocade (sic) running, of travel by rail cars and steamboat, of contact with strange people, of xxxxx among low minded persons because of some letters of invitation, promises and encouragement…surely I may go courageously on that last journey from my present home to meet the Saviour who has gone to prepare a place for me that where I may be also.

Shall the pain, the darkness, the chill and the decay of death affright me? In themselves they are no doubt bad enough and I like them not, but mey business is not with them.  I go by and beyond them to the Bridegroom who awaits and cheers and trusts me to show my love and faithe by heavenly starting on the journey alone….alone and in the dark.

When I thing of the experiences of life from which I have prayed for deliverance and of those favors for which I long with all my heart…I can but say God knows best.

Of all life’s trials for me, and some have been very bitter, while others apparently before me seem hard to bear, I think none shall take from me my submission and trust in the kindness of Providence 

A year ago I heard some preacher say that to believe anything without evidence was simple credulity.  I have thought that to take the old popular idea that faith is itself evidence of things not seen is to make everything of nothing.  God would not be angry with those who deny his existance (sic) if they had no evidence of it.  

Said the  preacher: “Taking home the sufficient evidence of things not seen that only is faith and our lives will prove the debth (sic) thereof.  We may believe Christ died for us & not love him but acording (sic) to our faith we love and live for him.

January 18, 1878

I think I have remembrance of reading the foregoing essay to my darling Ada.  Today she would be thirteen years of age.  Today I expect also to give birth to another child.  But Ada is dead….dead….dead.

Several weeks ago she was burned to death before my her mother’s eyes.  “Mamma will He take me to be with Him?” she asked, and I said, “Yes, love, he will.”  To myself I said “If there be any God, any Heaven, and Christian, this child has been that Christian and that God will take her to that Heaven.”

When her life went out before me, as the dreadful fire had been extinguished and was not, so seemed that precious life which was entwined with every fiber and affection and motive of any being as no other life had ever been or I fear can again be, then it seemed not to exist…to have ceased to be…and since then, tho in God is my only hope and trust….I sometimes seem to have no hope, no trust.

O the horrors of that dreadful death!  The terrible realites of any adeath…..of all death!  How lttle I expected in writing of future trials on the previous page of this book, that my child’s death would be the next of those trials.  I hope I read that to her.  It would agree with my customs to have done so, and perhaps it may have helped her as today it seem to help me to face death.  I do not think, if I diea tonight, I shall feel the terrors that I have suffered for her fo weeks, or months past in thinking of her death.

At present the thought of going to her presents itself even before the thought of going to God….In that dread hour He must comfort, help and control my thought and if I di may it be to His glory.  Father into thy hands I commend my spirit and pray Thee receive me for Christ’s sake.  To Thee only give I also those for whom I have responsibility.  Keep them from the evil of life and save us all in Heaven.
To them, with yearning love I bed a fond farewell, and “now Ilay me down to sleep.”

Is not sleep as mysterious as death?  We resign ourselves to one with content, with peace, yea with gladness.  The body we disrobe and lay aside in the dark, the spirit seems not to be….yet on the morrow we know it lives, that only it was resting, shut up in the dark while its tenement was repaired and however it shall dwell with Jesus after death be knoweth, and God’s way is best.

Life itself…how strange it seems!  Its origins, its dawn its development, its lessons, its waning, its close…is not each as strange as death!  But we learn to know each is best in God’s way so shell we see death wen we see by the light of Eternity.

June 1878
Death and Life

I often talked to Ada about or life beyond death.  I remember to have told her once that when we saw what kind provision God had made for our existance (sic) and comfort and advancement toward higher life when we are born into this world, we might trust him to take an equal care of our continued life and pleasure and good beyond the grave…beyond birth into immortality, beyond the change from a dull chrysalis existance to a kind above our conception, as this life of light sound study love hope hate patience heroism and faith is beyond the conception of a warm wet struggling breathless babe before birth. 

It is nearly a year since my Darling died.  Yesterday I went alone and sat by her grave and thought of the comfort we had taken in communion and felt that still she was part of my cofort and life tho gone before.

Death has seemed to have taken her from me but yesterday as I rested by her grave and thought of my other grave so far away it was to feel a comfortable connection that their occupants are still mine own, beloved and loving.

In time no doubt, I can think of death as only a barrier or a vail (sic) between us. 

God help me!  I pray, I long for thee, my only hope and help.  Until death comes for me help me to do my duty….my whole duty humbly by each of those that still live….to the older children with intilect (sic) and love, the younger by warding off dangers, the babies whose existance on earth depends still on my care as well as their father… my most puzzling responsibility and greatest care of all.