Why doesn’t anyone write interesting obituaries anymore? Why can’t they sound more like this one?
Our Dead. IN MEMORIAM.
The Pale horse and his rider visited the Cowenshannock Congregation and took away from our dear Brother Martin his companion in life, and our much esteemed Sister Esther John, who was born October 11th 1828. Fell asleep in Jesus March 7, 1894. Aged 66 years 4 months and 26 days. Sister John had been intermarried with Hawk, raised a family of 14 children one of which preceded her to the spirit world. She left a dear husband, thirteen children, seventy six grand and three great grand chidren to mourn their loss which we believe is her eternal gain. Sister John had been a consistant member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church for a period of between 45 and 50 years, but about two years ago I had the pleasure of baptizing Sister John who up to the time of her departure to rest was a very consistant member of the Brethren church. One of the sons informed the writer that for many years she kept family worship in her house. We believe that she had her house set in order. May all her children follow her Christian example, and be prepared to meet their mother in the haven of eternal rest and join with her in singing the song of redeeming love. The memorial sermon was Preached by the writer from the language of the apostle Paul 1st Cor.iii, 22, 23 on the 10th of March 1894. May the God of all peace sanctify this providence to the good of all who may learn of it and especially to the bereaved, “Be ye also ready.” J.B. Wampler Blanco, Pa.
Here’s a picture of Esther:
I think I’m a little bit afraid of her.
But back to obituaries . . . . “The pale horse and his rider” . . . “fell asleep in Jesus” . . . “had her house set in order” . . . “haven of eternal rest” . . . “singing the song of redeeming love” . . . .
Please don’t think I’m mocking this obituary, or the obvious faith of Esther and the folks who memorialized her. You can count me among the believers. My point here is that obituaries now are so cut-and-dried, so boring, so name-name-name-date-date-place-place-church-cemetery-the end. It wouldn’t surprise me if there’s an app for that . . . .
This obituary took time to write. The writer knew Esther and her family, and has given all of her descendants a treasure with this brief capsule of her life. The writer knew the community of Somerset County, Pennsylvania, and the folks who would be reading the obituary. What we get in 2012 is a glimpse of another time, when a person’s character might be reflected in her obituary, where the things and people that were important to her were spelled out, so the readers could perhaps nod their heads while reading and say, “Yep – that was Esther.”
I have no idea what will be included in my own obituary. All the obvious information, sure – husband, parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, church, cemetery. And anyone who finds me in 3012 will know nothing important, except that I lived. Who do I have to pay to end my obituary with “Be ye also ready!” ????
Disclaimer: I am not related to Esther (John) Hawk. She is the great-great-grandmother of one of my dearest friends. This obituary and the photo were attached to the tree of another researcher on Ancestry.com. The obituary originally appeared in an unknown newspaper, and was credited as having been given to Carol K. Fisher O’Melia (great-great-grandaughter of Esther John Hawk and David Hawk) by Robert William Hawk, who received it from Edward Tiger.