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Letters from Jerusha (Sage) Gear

[Letter from Jerusha (Sage) Gear (wife of Hiram Gear) to her Aunt Anna (Butler) Butler (wife of Sylvester Butler). (See graphic below.) Sylvester was the brother of Jerusha's mother Jerusha (Butler) Sage. Amelia was Anna & Sylvester's daughter who had died of T.B. in 1844. Jerusha Gear had lost two children, one in 1840 and the second in 1842, and then her husband in 1843 soon after the birth of their youngest son. The grandmother referred to would be Eunice (Robbins) Butler (Sylvester's mother) who died at age 92 in 1849. The address on the letter says "Mrs. Anna Butler, Upper Middletown, Conn," which is now Cromwell, CT. -- Susan Csaja]

Marietta, June 25, 1845

Dear Aunt Anna,

It was very pleasant to me to receive a few lines from you. But I was very sorry to hear of your bad health, also, of Uncle's lameness. You are indeed an afflicted family & I feel that I cannot let this opportunity pass without expressing to you the tender sympathies I feel for you in your afflictions. My own heart, too, has been deeply stricken, & it has taught me to feel for all the bitterness of grief, at the loss of one, who was dearer to me than my own life & was taken. O how did wish that my body also might be laid with him in the silent grave, that I would never again enjoy happiness on earth, or be fit for the performance of my duty. It has been an effectual upon me to wean me from earth, & it was what I needed, for my afflictions were too prone to cling to earthly objects, & to forget the transitory nature of all things here below, till I almost forget there was a nest beyond, prepared for the children of God. There never was a happier family than ours, till death came & claimed one, then another, then still another. The staff on which we leaned as his prey. There never was a more affectionate, or pleasanter companion than I once enjoyed. Never did an unpleasant word, or unkind look escape him, but he had the most perfect control over his temper ever the same, & I have often thought that we were too happy together for long continuance. We used often to talk about a separation, but I little thought that he would be taken & I left. I could not endure the thought. I used often to say that I could never be supported through such a trial. But the Lord has been better to me than my fears. I have been wonderfully supported, & felt that I could "lean on the arm of the mighty God of Jacob," & He has sustained me, & made me happy in His love. I love to look forward into the unseen world, & contemplate employment of those happy spirits that are released from sorrows of earth. No ! I would rather be prepared to meet them there. The resurrection of the just, is a delightful theme. But a little while, & we will meet these dear friends which now sleep in Jesus. Their bodies will again be raised incorruptible, & we with them, if we are the children of God, "will ascend to meet the Lord in the air, & so shall we ever be with the Lord." What is this world with all its charms compared with an eternity of bliss at God's right hand! It is a speck; lighter than vanity. We are only on a visit here. The messenger will soon come to call us to our Heavenly Father's Home. Then why grieve, because our friends go a little before us! Our Father in Heaven loves his children too well, to wish them to be unhappy, but it is in Himself that He desires them to seek all present good. Earth's pleasures are forbidden pleasure & when He sees our affection taken up with earthly objects, He removes those objects in love to us, that He may bring us more closely to Himself. I hope, my dear Aunt, you will be sustained under your heavy afflictions, & enjoy the sweet consolation of "lasting all your burden on the Lord." I have felt his sustaining power. & He will comfort your heart also. "When Jesus wounds, He wounds to heal." Sweet consolation! Cousin Amelia is now happy in the arms of her Savior. Could she speak to you, would she not say, "Dry those tears, dear mother. My savior will soon call for you! Be ready! I will welcome you to our eternal rest. Every tear here is wiped away. We shall part no more."

Give my love to good old Grandmother. I thank her for her kind remembrance. Her old cloak will make my little boys very comfortable for winter. I thank you dear aunt for all your kindness, & that you may enjoy the light of God's countenance to cheer you through this wilderness is the prayer of your affectionate niece.

J S Gear

Give love to all the family & remember me to all inquiring friends. I shall be happy to hear from you if you are able to write.

[A letter from Jerusha (Sage) Gear to her 1st cousin (Harriet ) Lucy (Starr) Williams, daughter of her mother's sister, Mary. "Aunt & Uncle Woodruff" were her mother's youngest sister Sophia and husband Asabel Woodruff. As she said , her aunt, born in 1800, was only six years older than she was. Sophia died the next year, 1885. "Cousin Jane" was one of Sophia's daughters and "Mary Bingham" mentioned was another of Sophia's daughters. "Geo. Henry Butler" was her 1st cousin, son of her mother's brother Sylvester. "Sister Elizabeth" would have been her sister-in-law, the wife of her brother Benjamin who had died young, and "Laura" was her eldest daughter. "Cousin Mary" was probably Mary (Butler) Bulkely, sister of George Henry Butler, and "Sophia" would have been Lucy's sister. The Jerusha she mentions at the end was her daughter, Mrs. J.G.Ewart. -- Susan Csaja] [From Steven Adkins I have further learned that Thomas Ewart married to Jerusha Gear in 1855 after the death of his first wife Grace Dana,.]

Granville, May 8, 1884

Dear Cousin Lucy

It is a long time since we held communication, one with another. I always enjoyed your letters, they were filled with so much that was interesting with regard to distant relatives, & friends of my early days. But I seldom hear from or about the associates of my youth in these latter days & indeed, so many of them have left the scenes of earth that my brother, Rufus & myself are all that remain, of my father's family. The messenger of death still claims one then another, for his prey. We cannot lay hold upon any dear, & say, I cannot spare you, you must not leave me. I will not let you go. Our dear Aunt Woodruff is thus left in her old age to mourn the departure of him who has been her bosom companion for over sixty years. Yes! Our dear Uncle Woodruff left the scenes of earth, one week ago, last Friday night & entered upon the realities of the never ending state. We all loved him very much, he was so kind & gentle always, & our Heavenly Father had spared him to a good old age, & now, has gathered him into the heavenly garner "as a shock of corn fully ripe." Aunt W_ will miss him very much, I do not think she will survive him long- She will be 84 in Aug - He would have been 86 if he had lived till the 20th of that month. I often think how we began our spiritual life together, & both professed religion at the same time. There is but 6 years difference in our ages & both of us are very near the end of life's journey. Her companion was spared to her over sixty years, while I have been left without an earthly prop for forty one years. But our Father in Heaven does all things well. He has ever been my stay & comforter & has never forsaken me in these long & dreary years. Thanks be to His great & Holy name. My children, I trust, all belong to Him, & such as are alive love his service. O how I would like to visit you once more & tell you of all the way in which the Lord my God has led me these many years but I cannot & what my Savior appoints for me is just & right. I have not been to Marietta for over one year, so have not seen Uncle & Aunt for that length of time. Cousin Jane is very feeble, can scarcely hobble about the house with a cane. She lives in the house with her parents & has one of Mary Bingham's daughters staying with her who goes to school. They have kept house separately but I think now Aunt will give up housekeeping & live with cousin Jane. A few weeks ago cousin Geo. Henry Butler wrote to cousin Jane & they sent me the letter thinking I would like to read it & I was glad for the privilege as I learned from it some things I had not known before about the relatives. Among other things he spoke of sister Elizabeth's crippled & destitute condition & Laura's feeble state, which touched my heart with pity toward them & I wished very much it was in my power to help them. Now as I am entirely dependent upon my children in a temporal point of view, I presented her case to the "God of the Widow." praying Him to remember her in mercy. A few days ago a sum was put into my hands very unexpectedly, which I determined to forward to her, hoping it might be of a little use to her in her afflicted state. I feared she might not get it if sent to her address so I enclose it in this letter, asking the favor of you to hand it to her as soon as convenient. I should like so much to get a letter from you once more & learn how you are prospering as regards health.

Love to cousin Mary & Sophia & a large share for yourself From your loving cousin J.S.Gear

My home is with my daughter, Mrs.J.G.Ewart, Granville, Licking county, Ohio. Let me hear from you as soon as convenient. Jerusha sends love.

[I'm not sure about everyone she talks about in this letter. I believe that Aunt Garfield & Aunt Welthia Merwin were her father, Hiram Sage's sisters while Aunt Sophia was her mother's sister (who married Mr. Woodruff). Mr. Preston was her cousin Jane's husband. Eva Bingham was Jane's sister's daughter. Jane also had a brother Lot Norton who is probably cousin Norton and he had a daughter Edith.
The Nooks, & Plains are still parts of Cromwell (Upper Middletown) and parts of Cromwell still go underwater when the river rises in the spring. They have had several memorable floods of the Connecticut River, cutting off parts of Cromwell, the last big one I recall was in the 1970's. She talks about Hiram at the end of the letter. -- Susan Csaja]

Granville - June 18, 1884

Dear Cousin Lucy,

I thank you for your long interesting letter & in reply will endeavor to answer your questions, to the best of my recollections, & knowledge. I will begin with the early home of my mother, your mother's eldest sister. I have a faint recollection of Grandfather Butler, an aged man living in Upperhouses down the street not far from the Connecticut river, in a large frame house with a "ball chamber" in the upper story covering it's entire extent of the building. After this, I remember his disposing of that place, purchasing a small farm at the Nooks, a place two or three miles above, on the banks of the river which at times in the spring overflowed its banks covering their garden up to the back door, so that the house could not be reached for a while except by small boats. I remember too the sad death of our grandfather. He left his home one day to go down into the village on some business, & chose the banks of the river as his pathway. Not returning as was expected at night the family became alarmed. Grandma went to bed in great anxiety, but he came not. She fell asleep at last & dreamed that her bible was brought to her with a stroke of water drawn across it's pages. At early dawn search was made along the river banks & there his lifeless body was found, drowned upon the river brink. It was supposed he stumbled & fell into the water & was unable to help himself. Many a time when I was very young, about 70 years ago, have I been & loved to go to the Nooks to visit my grandmother. They raised a great many Melons & we children could feast upon them to our hearts content. My first recollection of grandmother was of an old lady, bowed almost double washing dishes with her dish pan upon the floor, & she bent over them - indeed - I never remember her as standing upright. I do not remember ever seeing her in church. I know nothing of her christian experience - she was feeble and bowed greatly from the time of my earliest recollection. Uncle Allen married a daughter of Mr. Epaphras Sage, by the name of Sarah, then built him a house & moved up on the plains. After he died, Uncle Sylvester having previously married a daughter of Mr. Elnathan Butler, left the farm at the Nooks and moved into the house built by Uncle Allen, on the plains, near his wife's father. From this time until her death, our grandmother took to her bed & performed no longer active service - while she lived. The four Aunts which I mentioned in my letter were your mother, Aunt Garfield, Aunt Sophia, & Aunt Welthia Merwin. My father's house was the familiar and frequent resort of these four. He lived at that time out in the neighborhood of Dea. Isaac Sage & Mr. Russel. They always made their home with us when they came to Upper Middletown. It was in the winter of 1817 that Mr. Nettleton labored then Mr. Williams was pastor then. The Spirit of God worked mightily upon men's hearts. So great was the sense of sin upon many hearts that while going home from prayer meeting many would stop by the way to lean upon the fence & groan & weep. I was in the city attending the first Mrs. Garfield's school during the time of greatest interest. but when I came home there was an inquiry meeting at the house of the pastor & I begged leave of my parents to attend. I went; the seat upon which I sat was shaken by the deep emotion of souls distressed on account of sin. I became alarmed at my own condition in the sight of a just & Holy God. The next day I was so wrought upon by the Holy Spirit that I could not eat or work. The next evening I went to prayer meeting in the "ball room" of which I have spoken. They held their prayer meetings in that room, it was so large. On leaving the house, Mr. Nettleton came to me & whispered in my ear, "Give not sleep to your eyes nor slumber to your eyelids till you find a Savior. I went home & told my parents that I was not going to bed that night. I would spend the whole night in reading my bible in prayer. That was my fixed purpose when I went to my room. After a while I became so exhausted that I threw myself upon my bed & fell asleep. When I awoke, I was filled with anguish that I had suffered myself to be overcome with sleep. I got up immediately & went to my closet, & falling upon my knees, begged forgiveness for so great a sin & while repeating the words, "Here Lord, I give myself away, Tis all that I can do" a ray of light broke into my troubled spirit. Such love, unspeakable love, filled my inmost soul. I longed to clasp the Savior in my arms & wished that all could know & feel the love of Jesus. My four Aunts had each one of them experienced during the revival the same love, & we all rejoiced together in a new found Savior. They were all at my father's, more or less, that winter. And before the next communion season were each propounded for admission into the old Congregational Church standing upon the common just off the main road, with about forty others & were received at the same time into that church. I do not recollect when your mother & Aunt Garfield removed their membership to the North church but I think they became members of the church of which Dr. Crane was pastor.

I was interested in the history of your own conversion & the circumstances connected with it. I had not known them before. I was not personally acquainted with Mr. Crocker. He came to Upper Middletown after I came west. My brother wrote me respecting the interest he had felt in that Old Cemetery where so many of our dear ones are resting till the resurrection morn & his efforts to restore order there which I think was worthy of commendation, not only from the friends of loved ones resting there, but from the community at large as a matter of improvement. It is a shame to neglect & allow ruin to mar the burying places of our dead.

You ask me to tell you what kind of a place Granville is. It is a quiet, beautiful place, surrounded by hills, not noted as a business town, but noted for its educational advantages. Here we have graded schools , the Granville Female College under the direction of the Presbyterian church, a Young Ladies Institute, & Denison University under Baptist control. We are in the midst of these several anniversaries at this time & have an abundance of Literary entertainment. These entertainments will close with the commencement exercises of Denison University next week Thursday, & then comes a vacation of ten weeks

Mary Pearce is living in Granville & owns a house here. She has just been to Chicago to visit her bro. William & took her son Gordon with her, who is in poor health for a temporary visit in Colorado.

We have a pleasant frame house situated on the corner of two streets about one square from the depot. It is painted light brown with a dark brown trimming & blinds. My room is on the south east corner getting a view from both streets. A small porch in front covered with wisteria & yard with flowers, shrubs & trees which give a grateful shade. We like our house. It is pleasant, near church & the schools & business portion of our town. Mr. Ewart left a life insurance which procured this home.

I have frequently corresponded with cousin Jane. She is in very poor health & hobbles about with two canes. A Presbyterian church has been built nearly opposite Uncle & Mr. Preston takes her there to church in a rolling chair. I believe he has business in the telegraph office. Eva Bingham has been with cousin Jane nearly two years attending school. As cousin Norton & Polly are there now, she has come home & Edith has gone east to visit friends.

Mr. Ewart's first wife was a daughter of Mr. William Dana of Newport. She left four children, the names, Mary, the eldest, Thomas, next, Alice & William the youngest. Mary in Granville with three children, 1 son & 2 daughters. Alice, wife of Rev. Frank Adkins is living in Elyria has five children, three girls & two boys. Thomas is in the Law business in Marietta & William is inventor of a cable link chain very popular & valuable invention which secures him a fortune. He advanced money for his father to help him out of his troubles & is paying the security to his step mother to help her in her time of need. He is proverbially kind to all his relatives. Has just put in a monument to his father grave costing 6 hundred dol.

On the next corner of our square is the Baptist church, just built, costing forty thousand dol. Over on the next corner is the Town Hall & Episcopal church. Then across the street on the other corner is the Presbyterian church & on the opposite corner on the other side the Methodist church, not yet finished.

Hiram has gone to California. He broke down in Health & his wife's father sent for him to come out there, hoping that it would be for his benefit. She also has been an invalid for many years. He has 4 children, 2 boys in California & a son in college here & one daughter who expects to be married in October. His wife's father lives in San Francisco. They have better health there.

My paper is full, Love to all, Have not heard from Elizabeth.
your cousin, J. S. Gear.

December 9, 2005 / Mary Cloutier Libreville, Gabon Africa (Christian and Missionary Alliance)

I'm a missionary serving in Gabon, Africa. I'm researching early Presbyterian missionaries to this area, which includes Rev. Ira Mills Preston and his wife Jane Woodruff Preston. I have little info on them, but I found Jane mentioned in her aunt Jerusha's letters on your family website (See previous letter). At that point, the couple was living with Jane's parents in Ohio. I didn't find any other mention of them in your website, but the Prestons did have an impact here in Gabon, Africa. In fact, Jane wrote and published a book called "Gaboon Stories." (New York: American Tract Society, 1872) The Prestons served at the Baraka Mission School, in Libreville, Gabon (now a bustling city). I was wondering if the family knows this, or if there is more information/photos available.

The information for "Gaboon Stories" came from Jeremy Rich, who has several papers posted on the web, regarding colonial history in Gabon.

[There is no salutation or date on the following letter but may have accompanied the letter of June 1884, or at least was kept with that letter as it shares a small damaged area with that letter. Someone also wrote "Put with genealogies" at the top of the letter. Grandfather Butler was Benjamin Butler, Uncle Joseph & Uncle Sylvester were two of his sons. Edmund was Edmund Sage, Jerusha Sage Gear's brother. -- Susan Csaja]

With regard to Grand Father Butler, & his loss, I know but little was so young, when he died, that I do not remember much about him personally, but although so young, the circumstances of his death made a deep impression upon my young heart. I have heard my mother speak often of the time when his vessel & cargo was seized by the French & he lost his all & the sad change in their circumstances from a state of affluence to that of want. I think it must have happened not far from the time of my mother's marriage & that not very long after, he left the house where the Ball room was & moved to the Nooks. Aunt Sophia was born August 9, 1801, & I was born August 5th, 1806. I do not know that Grandfather was a captain of his vessel when seized. Uncle Joseph was a sea captain, but whether of his father's vessel or not I cannot tell. I have been at his house when he came home from sea & well remember the sea weed & tropical fruits he brought home to his family. I do not know where his vessel was kept between its voyages, or of even seeing it. Neither its name or whether it was a sloop or schooner. I know not in what capacity Uncle Joseph went out, at first, or whether he was on the vessel when seized, or who was captain; neither in what year or where it was bound, or the value or whether insured or the season of the year. I am entirely ignorant about the whole matter except what I have heard from relatives. I know this, that Edmund took quite an interest in the matter at one time, I forget what year & made an effort to gather together all the information he could obtain in the matter, & tried to enlist Uncle Sylvester in the cause but to no avail, feeling confident himself that some day these claims would be made good & went to Washington to see about the matter, & this is about the amount of my knowledge upon the subject. The seizure must have happened about the beginning of this century, and my impression, with regard to the value of the vessel & cargo, was that of a Million of dols.

I do not see what can be done in the matter. If there is any encouragement that these claims can be realized by the heirs, it must necessarily involve a great expense in collecting them. [See further story of the seizure and claims]

I suppose a trip to Washington by some interested claimant that could examine the papers on "file" there would settle the matter once and for all & I know not of any way to prove the righteousness of the claims for I do not think there is a person living that can be a true witness in the matter.

From your loving Cousin
J S Gear

Write when convenient.

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