Letter from Sarah Sim to Sister, October 29, 1863

IIn her October 29, 1863 letter to her sister, Sarah Sim describes the deaths of her daughters, Helen and Mary, from diphtheria. She also mentions the recent birth of another son, and her struggles to maintain her own health while watching three sons under the age of three. With her childcare burdens, she fears that she will not be able to return to the East for a winter visit.

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Dear Sister

We rec'd yours of the 11th Inst was glad to hear that you had arrived safe home and that you had a pleasant visit east but while you have been enjoying yourself visiting our friend in old Con we have been plunged in the deepest sorrow by the loss of our dear Helen and Mary Jane. I suppose you have heard of the death of both ere this as Mr. Sim wrote to some of you in Cin soon after Mary died. She died one week after Helen with the same disease. We have most all had it but not very bad excepting the girls. Helen was sick one week she suffered a great deal. The first day she complained of her throat being sore. I thought she had taken a little cold. I gave her some salt and water and thought it would pass away. The next day I found that she had the diphtheria so I went to doctoring her for it and she got no better and we got the doctor but she continued to grow worse. Having heard ice highly reccomended [sic] we tried it but nothing done her any good.

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She lost her voice some days before she died so that it was very hard to understand her. She walked about some the day she died. She was so much distresed [sic] that she could scarcely be down. It was dreadful hard to see her suffer so much. I think that in the latter part of her sickness that she thought she would not live but we could not converse with her much. When she was dying she rose up in the bed and looked about the room and smiled and it seemed an unearthly smile. It seemed as if she saw something that she could not express. She said nearly audible O Father! Mother! and seemed very much pleased. Her Father told her that she was going to Jesus said yes and seemed to be delighted and soon after went into spasms. When she was dead there was a beautiful smile resting on her countainance [sic] O it was very hard to part with her. How could I spare her all my dependence for a little help and when she was gone I was counting the years when Mary would be as old as Helen and then how soon my hopes of her were blasted. She was taken sick the next day after Helen was buried and lived but five days. I done all I could to save her all to no purpose. She would have been a

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great comfort to me if she had lived. She was such an amiable child. But they are gone and our loss is their gain. We are left to mourn their untimely death. It is a great trial to us but we must try to be resigned beleiveing [sic] God does all things for the best. We have now another little boy nearly 4 weeks old. He was born Oct. 4th. So I have 3 little boys less than three years old. I am more tied up than I ever was before. Willie was sick with the disentery [sic] for two months has just got well. So with my own ill health and so many of the family being sick you may well suppose I have had about as much as I could get along with but I am getting pretty well now. I am doing my work after a sort have no one to help me. Grandpa is not able to do much he has the gravel very bad he is getting old and infirm and very childish. You all are making calculations for me to come east this winter but I don't see how I can possibly. Besides every thing else being against my going it is to [sic] late to start on so long a journey with a family of little ones. Today we have a cold snow storm the snow is quite deep more than we had all last winter it looks

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realy [sic] like winter. Our corn is nearly all in the field. We have been sick so much that our work is very much behind but I hope we shall have pleasant weather yet before winter fairly sets in. It is getting late and I must close so my love to you all and I remain your true Sister


About this Document

  • Source: Letter from Sarah Sim to Sister
  • Extent: 4 pages
  • Citation: Nebraska State Historical Society, Sim Family, RG3435, Box 1, Folder 1
  • Date: October 29, 1863