|Mary Ann Tirzah Sayles Holt
March 18, 1842–June 19, 1885
|The decree of nature which dissolves the bonds of friendship and tenderness in this world is the most imperative, the most heart-breaking that comes to man.
In his agony at the sundering of a golden friendship whose gentle suns have eclipsed all other lights and blended his life experiences in mellow shadows of grace and mercy and peace, man asks for instruction, he seeks to find some familiar token among the clouds of mystery that have closed in around him, and finds it not. The lights have gone out, the sweet echoes of morning are dead, the form of mountains and meadow and sorge are lost. The whole creation is impassive, dark and solitary.
There is but one star alive to the consciousness of the man who stands beside the marbled countenance of a dear friend, a part of himself, who has received the destroying kiss of death. All the recollections of hallowed days and years of association flow together and become a luminous sphere, a westering star that is ever rolling toward sundown in the heart, yet never reaching its horizon until death comes again and the star and its orbit vanish forever.
We are moved to these reflections by the death of Mrs. Mary Ann Tirzah Holt, wife of E. C. Holt, Esq., at this city, who died at her home, at 8 o'clock and 40 minutes on Friday night, June 19.
The death of this amiable woman was wholly unexpected. All day Friday she was in the travail of childbirth, but the throes of maternity passed away so softly that there was nothing but happy expectation in the sick chamber. Her sickness was premature, but this was not thought serious as she was a woman of great vitalilty and strength. Towards nightfall her case assumed a grave aspect. A beautiful little boy was born dead. A few minutes afterward the mother complained that she was growing faint and cold. Heroic treatment was resorted to by Dr. Gawley, the attending physician, and his assistants. But it wrought nothing but death. In less that ten minutes after the little boy came with the maze of oblivion on his dimpled face, his mother was waiting on that same listless and unspeakable shore.
Mrs. Holt was the daughter of Hon. N. G. Sayles, the earliest pioneer of Jones county. She was born in Ohio, March 18, 1842, and was brought to Iowa by her parents when an infant. They first made their home in Iowa City when that place was the capital of the state. Mrs. Sayles died there leaving her daughter an orphan at the age of five years. Not long afterwards her father came to Anamosa, and she remained identified with the interests of the town, a faithful worker in every good cause, until her dying day.
Her education was received in St. Joseph's Academy, Dubuque, where she acquired those womanly accomplishments which fitted her to adorn her own home and made her a pleasant and desirable member of the best society.
She met Mr. Holt in 1838. Though the daughter of the richest and most influential man in the county, and having numerous suitors for her hand, she discovered sterling worth and genial sentiment beneath the modest exterior of the young mechanic, and married him in 1851. Their union proved to be one long summer of blissful faith. Two mortals cannot be united in the close friendhip of husband and wife, where that relation is spiritualized to the height of a real friendship, withot becoming incarnated in each other. They grow to be of the same body in thought and impulse. All the tides and climates of their personalities are lulled and subdued by the influences of a sacred affection and those glorious anthologies which fall from the tasteful lips of love. Such did this union prove to be. It was a marriage that could well have been recorded in the celestial city, but it was more happily registered in the daily conduct of the man and woman who enjoyed its blessed fellowhip. Nine children, in whom were mirrored the graces of a loving mother, were the fruit of it.
Mrs. Holt was a woman of fine educational attainments, and as far as her domestic responsibilities would admit, she was a constant student. Her mind was a pool clear and deep. Quiet, reserved and thoughtful, she wore well with her friends, and often won her enemies by the dignified candor of her conduct. Her death came with grievious suddeness to our town and county, but it fell with the weight of despair upon the bereaved husband, who feels utterly inconsolable. Sympathizing kinsmen and neighbors have done all in their power to soften the sting which death's blow has left in his heart, but time and philosophy must do the rest.
The funeral services were held Sunday afternoon at 1 o'clock, Rev. J. I. Corbyn of St. Mark's Episcopal society officiating. The ritual for the dead was intoned by Rev. Corbyn, and appropriate hymns were sung by a quartette choir composed of Messrs. J. W. Miller and Hassan Monroe, and Misses Laura Monroe and Millie Buchen. An eulogium upon the character and worth of the deceased was pronounced in eloquent terms by the reverend gentleman. The body was enshrouded in white cashmere and draped with white illusion. The baby boy who received the benediction of mortal daylight in voiceless beauty, laid beside his mother with her arm tenderly covering him. The funeral casket was the costliest that could be procured, and was very rich in its sombre splendor. Flowers shone and distilled fragrance everywhere around the dead. All of the symbols of immortality were represented in flowers. There was a pillow made of white and pink roses, a harp of syringas and colored geraniums, a cross and wreath of syringas and white rose buds, a star of white rose buds, in the center of which was a cross set off with ascension lilies. These and numerous boquets were prepared by the floral committee: Mrs. A. E. Martin, Mrs. D. M. Hakes, Mrs. Lucien Ellis and Mrs. Dr. McGuire. An anchor composed of white flowers was presented by Mrs. James Davidson of Monticello. Vines were trailed round the casket and looped up with tiny boquets, and on the breast of the dead, enthroned in dissolving loveliness, was a cluster of angel-wing begonias, which were her favorite flower.
The pall bearers were O. E. Gillen, Dr. Skinner, James Spellman, J. S. Perfect, Dr. Gawley and Dr. Blakeslee. The remains were conveyed to Riverside cemetery, where a brief service of song and prayer was held, and they were then consigned to the dust. We do not remember having seen a more spontaneous expression of public feeling than was called forth on this occasion, and the funeral cortege was the largest that has reminded the men of this community of the vanity of life.
Source: Anamosa Journal, Anamosa, Iowa, 25 Jun 1885
© Copyright 1997-2013, The Art Department, © Copyright 2014-2018, Richard Harrison.