|Eliza Ann Hawkins Thomas
A Mother in Israel at Rest
Mrs. Solomon Thomas Passes Away
at the Age of 90 Years
|Eliza Ann Hawkins was born in Daviess county, Indiana, Dec. 7, 1816, and died Feb. 10, 1907. Her age was 90 years, two months and 3 days.
How great a life our sister lived she never knew. Her life was so busy with her labors of love she never found out what a great, good woman she was. Her realm was home, her throne was love, her scepter was tenderness, her crown was service. He that would be greatest among you let him be servant of all. Her dear ones were her "joy and crown" and at her Lord's command she was the servant of all. Few now live who knew her well, but what she was is seen in the lives of her children. Seldom even in the most carefully organized homes do all the children learn to love and follow the truth. But her way and ministry surely were tenderest, wisest, best, for her large family all are followers of the Christ she loved.
Her marriage to Solomon Thomas, a Kentuckian, occurred Jan. 3, 1833. After 23 years spent in the Hoosier State they prepared to go to Minnesota. In the usual manner, with covered wagons, a large herd of cattle for those days, horses and equipment, with their eight sons and three daughters, they made their way across Illinois to Iowa. Reaching the home of Capt. E. B. Alderman, near Cass Center, and finding a fine spring of water, they unhitched for the night. How like Abraham as he went out seeking a country. Capt. Alderman went down to the camp and, after talking with the new comers, he was attracted by their spirit and character and decided that they would be valuable citizens. Knowing of a farm for sale he took Mr. Thomas over the next morning to see it. Touched by the interest of the westerner, impressed by the promise of the country, and weary with the long pilgrimage he bought the farm and set about making the home. This was in the year 1856. His son William now [...] the same farm.
With all the cares and vicissitudes of these experiences this mother, wife, this neighbor and friend was uncomplaining. With the spirit of beautiful Christian devotion she rose to meet every emergency with true nobility of soul. Every one who knew her became her friend. They knew her but to love her. She was very quiet and unpretentious but earnest, devout and faithful. Her joy was to be a true helpmeet and faithful mother. A new church was built largely through the arduous efforts of her husband. Their home was open for the pioneer preacher of those early days. They never came too often nor too many at a time. Whether just passing through or shut in by storm, she made them welcome. News of the world came by them. Then papers were few and news seldom came. So the minister became a center of much interest. This of course gave added interest to family religion. Her family, orderly and neatly kept, were trained to be devout and when but boys their voices could be heard in prayer at the prayer meetings.
She, too, had her share of sorrow. When the war broke out her sons were growing young men. As to their God so to their country's flag this home was taught to be true. Noble in [sic] the spirit of the American mother of the soldier boy. What a rare thing to bury the mother of soldiers who fought in the sixties. Three sons were laid upon her country's altar by this mother. Bennett went out under Capt. Alderman and Edmund enlisted while visiting cousins in Indiana, who were then enlisting. All the anxieties in the midst of the uncertainties of those awful days she knew. Edmund sickened and died at the front. Bennett came home sick from disease and exposure and she watched by his side until his spirit took its flight. James was in the service but a short time and still lives.
The world knows full well the story of the illustrious American soldier of the sixties, and while his courage and heroism and devotion are exalted, back of it all and with it all, and dare we not say, above it all, let us not forget the mother. Was her courage or devotion or patriotism less? Perhaps it cost her more to say good-bye and to receive the letter telling of sickness and the message of death or to see a son come home, fade away and slip from her embrace.
The Japanese say that the secret of America's great soldiers is that they had great mothers.
Submitted by: Emily Terrell
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