Much of what
we know about our ancestors comes from handwritten letters.
families, they are useful documents in providing descendants with
insights to what life was like in early Texas.
And in the case of a rare letter written in 1843, they can be poignant
reminders of family tragedies, which occurred frequently on the
16, while living in San Augustine County, Rev. Samuel D. Sansom
wrote to three of his children living in Tennessee describing the
untimely death of their mother, Bettsy, on June 8, 1843.
his wife and other family members had arrived in Texas
earlier during the year, settling near Newton McAda's homestead
on the Attoyac River. He taught school and preached in the community'
school on Sundays and Wednesday evenings.
He found the
region fertile for his professions: "They (the residents) cared
for nothing but hunting deer by day and night," he wrote.
But Rev. Samson
soon converted many of the community's unchurched people. He was
rejoined "to see old gray-haired men and women with their children,
all happy and praising God."
Deep in his
letter, Rev. Samson wrote: "But now sets in the weightiest part
of my letter, which was uppermost in my mind, but promising to be
particular in writing to you, I have used order." He continued:
"About three or four weeks ago, your mother took a swelling
in her bowels and limbs and (it) was thought to be dropsy, but...the
neighbor women told her it was another nature. However, in eight
days it vanished and on Saturday the seventh, she was taken with
a kind of shivers and followed with small symptoms of fever. But
(it) soon discovered itself to be a disease of the bowels, which
increased for three or four days."
went on: "On Thursday, she told me she wanted to take Calomel. I
told her I was opposed to Calomel, but if she insisted, I would
not hinder her. She took it and her pain increased in spite of everything
until Friday night, about 9 o'clock, she took her leave of this
world and went to Jesus whom she has loved and faithfully served
above 40 years."
told his children: "Oh, my children, I know you cannot but grieve
her for a parent, but my grief is for the best part of myself. I
say nothing more of her now that I have always said in her lifetime...(I)
am willing to say the sun never shined on that women who filled
her place with more dignity and propriety than she has done as a
woman, a mother, member of the church, and a a neighbor."
letter was copied in 1972 by Dorothy Click Cook, a great-great-great
granddaughter of the pioneer preacher, who was born in 1774 in Abbeville,
South Carolina, the son of John and Jane Samson. His father John
was killed by Tories in the Revolutionary War in South Carolina.
Our thanks to
Nell Bazziel of Corrigan for sharing with us a copy of Rev. Samson's