This is a handwritten letter by Laura Francis Clark Hamby or George Washington Hamby (my great grandparents), sent to their son James Earley Hamby and his wife Charlotte Goins Hamby after the death of their three year old daughter, Stella. The writers were Stella’s grandparents.
This was found in Jesse M. Hamby’s (1920-2012) photos by his daughter, Jean Suico. She copies it as it is written without changing or interpreting their words.
The poem quoted is an Isaac Watts hymn text. The "Jessie" referred to was the two year old child of the writers, deceased just a decade earlier.
Birmingham, Alabama, Feb. 19, 1899
Mr. and Mrs. J.E. Hamby
Words fail to convey our feelings of sorrow on receipt of the sad intelligence of the death of your darling Stella. Our own grief at the loss of this precious one teaches us how crushing must be your affliction. We feel like we would do or say something that would comfort your hearts in this sad hour, if we only knew how. However, we will attempt to write a letter of condolence, feeling it a necessity to do so, though very difficult to compose, since the more earnestly and touchingly it is written the more deeply will it probe the wounds still bleeding under the stab of affliction.
We recognize the fact this morning that never before has providence in his wisdom sent a great grief or a more bitter sorrow into your hearts and house than in the present dispensation. Never before since the death of little Jessie has our house been sadder or our hearts been made to act with such severance than now. Therefore, our grief is mutual and you have our deepest sympathy and earnest prayer.
May God sustain you in this trying hour by putting you to remembrance that he has only taken back to himself what was sent you for a short while. He has plucked the little bud from your home that it may blossom and bloom around His throne up yonder. Yes, it was a sweet tender little plant, so delicate that God saw it could not withstand the fiery darts of this troublesome, unkind and unfriendly old world, and He has only come and taken from you to replant it in the Garden of Eden to care for it for you until the dawning of that great morning when all nations and tribes of the earth shall be gathered together that God may from the great assembly make up his jewels.
The sweet consolation is for you that your darling one who has already preceded you to that throne will be, beyond all questions, one of His brightest jewels. Its little sun had hardly risen from the Easter morning of life before death pleased its shinning. For about four years its little rays have been peeping over the Eastern hill of life, shinning in your home churning your hearts and brighten all prospects for a useful happy life. But just after passing the fourth milepost of life and ever before reaching the meridian of time, death overtook it that it might be invested. And today it shines in God’s home with a celestial brightness that it could not have possibly demonstrated here below. Yes she was a little sunbeam, and now that her light is out the home is dark. But be comforted. For if God left her here just long enough to fasten tight the golden cord of love around your hearts, then be well assured that he holds the other end near his great throne of Grace and after a little while you may meet her.
She is not dead, but asleep in Christ.
As the poet says:
“Hear what the voice from heaven proclaims
For all the pious dead:
Sweet is the savior of their names,
And soft their sleeping bed.
They die in Jesus and are blest,
How calm their slumbers are!
From sufferings and from sin released.
And freed from every snare.
Far from this world of toil and strife,
They’re present with the Lord:
The labors of their mortal life
And in a large reward.
May God’s richest grace help and sustain you both and help you to bare in submission to His sweet will and feel that the cord of blessed kinship binds you closer to the skies.
No more will its sweet voice be heard on earth tho’ it be dead still it continues to speak. Its voice used to be heard here below calling pa-pa and ma-ma. But today the same words are murmured in its new home.
Be faithful father and mother that by-and-by you may meet and have a happy reunion in the sweet hereafter.
God bless and comfort you both is the prayer of your folks at home.
Father, Mother & family