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Mary Ann Walworth Booth
February 23, 1817–January 25, 1898

The death of the wife of the senior editor of the Eureka and mother of the writer occurred at half-past eleven Tuesday evening, in her 81st year. The funeral services were held in the Congregational church Thursday at 2 p.m., conducted by the pastor, Rev. S. F. Millikan, assisted by Rev. J. I. Corbyn, of St. Mark's Episcopal church.
We are delayed one day in publication and necessarily defer until next week the tributes of love to her blessed memory. Our mother! Her ears closed to all the sweet sounds of this world and her tongue bound in the silence of infirmity—at last her fettered spirit is released and she hears the sweet praises of Heaven and speaks for the first time the raptures of the redeemed in the Eternal Home!
Sorrowful is the heart of her companions for more than fifty-seven years, and sorrowful are the hearts of her children and grandchildren, brother and two sisters, yet who could call her back again! Hers is the blessed peace that the world can neither give nor take away. She rests not in the narrow home on the hillside, but with her Lord and the loved ones gone before. May we all be ready to follow her!

Thursday the 27th, at 2 P.M.

The mystery of death,
The stopping of the palpitating breath,
The deep, strange silence that doth more prolong
The slumber! ah! what questions throng!
"Where? Where?" we say,
"Doth the fled spirit stay?"
Nor understand the living nor the dying.
And yet, while time endureth
'Tis death alone that cureth,
And bringeth to its end life's day of sighing—
The soul a little longer slumbereth
And when its rest is taken,
To stronger life immortal shall awaken!
Brief announcement was given last week of the death of Mrs. Edmund Booth, wife of the senior editor of the [Anamosa, Iowa] Eureka, which occurred at 11:30 Tuesday night, the 25th [25 January 1898]. Her age was 80 years, 11 months, and 2 days. A long and active life naturally brought a gradual decline of her physical powers in these latter years, and during the past ten or twelve months she has been entirely helpless. She came from a long-lived family, possessed a vigorous constitution and much energy, and her inability to perform her household duties and their assumption by others, as well as the thought that she herself had become so dependent, brought natural regret to what was otherwise a serene condition of mind. But this all ended and we love to reflect upon the happy thought of some author, that the first day in Heaven brings full compensation for all the toils, disappointments, pains and infirmities of this earthly life.
A letter from Frank [Frank Booth, Mary Ann's son] to his father contains this heartfelt expression: "Mother is gone. I can hardly realize it. I can with difficulty think of you and the home without her. But I do feel thankful her sufferings and weariness are at an end, for she wanted so much to go and longed only for release. She wanted rest and now she has it with all the joy and happiness that may be hers. I know now what it is to have someone on the other side, waiting for us, perhaps watching over us. And there is joy in it; more of joy than sorrow. My sorrow is for you, left alone. And you have been so patient and loving—you may be sure your children appreciate your gentleness and kindness to mother. I hope you do not miss her so much, and yet you must miss her greatly. Companionship for nearly fifty-eight years, almost uninterrupted, means dependence upon it as a part of our nature, and loss of it is loss of part of life itself."
The daughter also writes: "Why could have I not have known that the end would be so soon. How I wish I could have been with her to the last. Dear mother, her spirit is free and she is with the loved ones who have gone before. But we must not—we can-not wish her back, she so longed to go. She could not "understand" why the Lord let her linger so long. Now she understands and rejoices in His goodness and love."
Mrs. E. Gustafson, of Sycamore, Ill., who was in the family for a time some years since, writes a letter full of thoughtful sympathy, from which we quote these sentences: "I know she wanted to go, for she told me it would be better. I know it is far better, but so lonely for those left behind. But Mother Booth was a noble spirited woman. I some-times think, what would she have been if she could have had her hearing and speech. I cannot help thinking of the good she might have accomplished. I could not live with her without being the better for it. As it was, Mother Booth was a wise woman who built her house upon the Rock. The last sign she ever made to me was: 'Meet me in Heaven.'"
The funeral services, preceded by a brief prayer at the house, were held in the Congregational church Thursday afternoon at two o'clock, opening with an instrumental voluntary—"Traumerei."
Rev. S. F. Millikan, pastor of the church, then read the following sketch:
Mary Ann Walworth was born at Canaan, New Hampshire, Feb. 28, 1817. At the age of four she lost her hearing and power of speech in consequence of sickness. She was educated in the institution for the Deaf and Dumb at Hartford, Conn., where she spent five years. It was there, and while in the classes taught by Mr. Edmund Booth, a graduate and afterwards a teacher in the same institution for seven years, that the friendship was formed which ripened into an affectionate attachment. Later her family removed to Illinois and afterward to Iowa and located on the Buffalo [Creek] one mile west of Anamosa, where her father and brothers erected saw and flouring mills. Mr. Booth soon followed, and on the 26th of July, 1840, their marriage was solemnized by Justice of the Peace John G. Joslin, there being no clergyman nearer than Dubuque, so far as they knew. This is the first marriage on the records of the county, though there was one which preceded it. Four children were born of this union—Thomas E., Harriet, who died in infancy, Harriet E., now Mrs. Rev. G. F. Leclere, of Chillicothe, Texas, and Frank W. Booth, teacher in the Pennsylvania institution for the Deaf at Philadelphia.
Life in the earlier years of this new country involved hard struggles and many privations, and with a view of a betterment of conditions, Mr. Booth joined the great companies of gold seekers in the spring of 1849 and made the then perilous six months journey overland to California in safety. He was separated from a fond wife and two children nearly five years, but she husbanded his earnings in the mines with wise, constant and judicious care and made investment that gave homes not only to the two families and this church but to all others residing in this block. Her clear discernment in all business matters and her industry and executive force were very marked for one measurably isolated by infirmity; and she sought by example and training to prepare her children well for their work in life, remembering steadily and lovingly the supreme fact that integrity of character, purity and steadfast faith in God constitute the strongest and safest foundations.
Mrs. Booth was a charter member of this church, which was organized in 1846, and has held uninterrupted connection with it for more than 51 years. Though shut out from hearing the gospel and from the voice of song, she, in the earlier years, did not forget her obligations, and later for a long period, until failing strength prevented, she was always present and participated with her brothers and sisters in the joy and comfort of each recurring communion season. Her interest in this church and its ministers all these years has been constant and loving, and many times has she told her children and grandchildren how much she longed to hear a sermon and to hear the music and singing. Though we parted with her at last with deep sorrow, and though the blow has fallen with crushing and peculiar force on her faithful companion of more than fifty-seven years, yet we thank God that the longings of these years of silence have been realized and that songs and praises and everlasting joy shall be her perpetual heritage.
The choir sang "Immanuel's Land," as follows:
The sands of time are sinking;
The dawn of heaven breaks;
The summer morn I've sighed for,
The fair, sweet morn awakes.
Dark, dark hath been the midnight;
But dayspring is at hand,
And glory—glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land.
Oh, Christ! He is the fountain,
The deep, sweet well of love;
The streams on earth I've tasted,
More deep I'll drink above;
There to an ocean fullness
His mercy doth expand,
And glory—glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land.
With mercy and with judgment
My web of time he wove,
And aye the dews of sorrow
Were lustred by his love;
I'll bless the hand that guided,
I'll bless the heart that planned,
When throned where glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land.

Rev. J. I. Corbyn, pastor of St. Mark's Episcopal church, read part of the 15th chapter of 1st Corinthians and other appropriate scripture selections.
Prayer by Mr. Millikan.
Solo by Miss Jessie Niles—"He Giveth His Beloved Sleep,"
as follows:
Sorrow and care may meet,
The tempest cloud may lower;
The surge of sin may beat
Upon life's troubled shore.
God doth His own in safety keep,
He giveth his beloved sleep.
The din of war may roll,
With all its raging flight,
Grief may oppress the soul
Throughout the weary night;
God doth His own in safety keep,
He giveth his beloved sleep.
In childhood's winsome page,
In manhood's joyous bloom!
In feebleness and age,
In death's dark gathering gloom.
God doth His own in safety keep,
He giveth his beloved sleep.

Mr. Corbyn having been a near-neighbor of Mother Booth for many years, and who had rendered her greatly appreciated kindnesses, made brief remarks indicating his high regard for her excellencies of character, and earnestly exhorting his hearers to live as those who go in peace on their journey to the shores of Paradise. This was followed by the sermon, from the first division of which we quote extracts and giving in full that portion bearing directly on the life of the deceased.
Mr. Millikan presented as his theme "The Heroic Life." His texts were from Acts 26:10—"Whereupon, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision" and Galatians 1:16—":Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood."
These words are a finger-board pointing forever to the path in which from that time forth one of the world's heroes walked. These words, with lightning flash, open but the sure way to glory through the gloom of a selfish, sensual age. These words reveal the character which, in all ages, makes man the only glorious creature of earth—the character which alone makes life sublime, the quality which forever will make sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty "heirs with Christ and joint heirs to an eternal inheritance."
These words therefore may well stand before us this hour as we meditate upon the heroic life, for they are the gateway to that life for many a man like Paul and many a woman like Mrs. Booth, and they wrap up the quality of character which wins life for all souls.
First let us clear away some mists and misconceptions that have gathered around the conditions of a heroic life in these days. Let us acknowledge that the circumstances of our lives differ widely from the surroundings of the first Christians. The humanity, the refinement, the charity, the sweetness and the light which Christ’s religion has wrought into the civilization of our times make it impossible for the most self-sacrificing Christian to win the crown of heroism on the cross or at the stake, in a mob of wild men with Paul at Lystra, or under the hot breath of lions or the teeth of tigers with many of the early martyrs at Rome.
* * * Men are not stoned, sawn asunder, slain with the sword in these days for confessing Christ. They are not forced to wander about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented. They are not driven into deserts, mountains, dens and caves of the earth because they are willing to be known as Christians in our times. Thank God all these tortures and deaths have passed away like a dark dream. The Sun of Righteousness has arisen with healings in his wings for the fierce fanaticisms and inhuman cruelties of the distempered ages. Let us not only thank God that a partially christianized civilization has turned from such deeds of darkness, but let us thank God with fuller hearts that such proofs of heroism are no longer demanded. Surely we have much occasion to rejoice that almost all opportunity for spectacular heroism has passed away, though doubtless the proofs of courage which were required in the martyr ages were impressive evidences of devotion to the Lord. Yet no man shall surpass me in admiration of those grand souls who were made a spectacle to angels and men in ancient amphitheaters and medieval and modern inquisitions, yielding themselves to wild beasts, racks, wheels and flames, willingly – nay, joyfully – rather than deny the Lord. * *
To me, Paul, toiling patiently on at his work as a tent-maker in Corinth, is quite as heroic a figure as Paul fighting with wild beasts at Ephesus. Doubtless he was equally heroic in either condition. To me, Agnes, the most healthily and heartily heroic Christian nurse of whom I have read, not excepting Florence Nightingale herself, showed the heroic life most gloriously when for years she stayed at home caring for an invalid mother with a Christian daughter’s devotion, all the while powerfully drawn to enter upon the life which in after years made her famous. * * I have no doubt that some of us are failing in duties which we see as clearly as we see each other’s faces this beautiful day and who think we could be really heroic in some other place. Now I am very sure that the heroic life is simply a life of obedience, of duty-doing – whether it be in high or low conditions – great or small surroundings. The heroic life roots itself in the surrender of one’s self to the law of Christ.
Of this calm heroism our sister’s life has been a signal and shining example. Shut out from the world in which we move – where words have wings to bear our thoughts – never hearing even the voice of her own husband with whom she has walked in joy and sorrow for fifty-seven years, never hearing the glad voices of her children, sons and daughters, who have grown to strong manhood and noble womanhood, she has nevertheless so lived that her children rise up and call her blessed; and her husband, now in his 88th year, is forced to cry from a sorely bruised heart: “This is the hardest blow that ever struck me!”
What a wholesome rebuke such a life is to the weak, fussy, feverish lives of souls that are forever complaining of lack of opportunity to walk in ways that win social distinction or gain the world’s admiration. What a stimulus – what a fine stimulus – such a life is to souls that cherish a true ambition to be worthy of remembrance by doing worthily and patiently the tasks – the humble, daily, homely tasks – which cost courage, toil, exactness, punctuality, and build character which blesses the world and moves serenely on to the mansions of God!
Such souls do not confer with flesh and blood, but move to the music of duty, and find themselves at last in the front ranks of those elect spirits who have saved their children and done much to save society from feeding its hunger on froth and foam, or wrecking itself among the whirlpools of folly or on the rocks of shame!
It is easy to say our sister was shut out from social ambitions by infirmity; but it is also easy to see that she would not have yielded to their seductions or followed their false lights had it been otherwise. She had learned that duty doing is the gateway to nobility; that duty doing is earthly as well as heavenly glory.
Mrs. Booth’s love for God’s house never lost its ardor: The very ground on which this church stands was bought with the fruits of her economy. Her heart-hunger to hear a sermon and take part in a service was life-long. Thank God her life-long wish and ours for her is granted.
E’en now by faith we join our hands
With those that went before,
And greet the ransomed blessed bands
Upon the eternal shore.

Our sister’s love for her Lord has been as steady as the stars and as strong as life itself. She was the oldest member and, I believe, one of the charter members of this church. She always counted it a joy to sit with us at our Lord’s table, and never for more than half a century (save when sickness forbade) has she failed to find her seat at Christ’s table, and there to renew her consecration to Him who bought her with His own blood.
Though the face of the deaf is seldom a demonstrative face, it was delightful to note the quiet glow of her soul fill her face with light as she received the symbol of that bread of which if a man eat he shall never hunger, and of that blood of which if a man drink he shall never thirst. As she joined in this high feast her heart sung – Here we feel our sins forgiven While upon the Lamb we gaze, And our thoughts are all of Heaven And our lips o’erflow with praise. Still in ceaseless contemplation Fix our hearts and eyes on Thee, Till we taste our full salvation And unveiled, Thy glories see.
For two years she has been unable to come to that feast in body. For about one year she has been confined to her chair and her bed. Since her faculties began to decline, her husband has kept his place day and night by her side with just but heroic tenderness, watching the slow transfiguration and wondering if he might not fall first. Her children and grandchildren have at times kept tryst with him at her side. When, only a few days since, her daughter was forced to return to her home in the south, Mother Booth slowly spelled out on failing fingers, “H-e-a-v-e-n!” – her farewell to her husband, to her children, to us all! Let us copy her heroism! Let us copy her love for her Lord! Amen!
That always uplifting hymn, “Jesus, Lover of My Soul,” was then rendered by the choir, followed by interment in Riverside Cemetery and the closing prayer at the grave by Mr. Millikan.
The choir consisted of Misses Jennie Niles and Dora Hartman and Messrs. A. F. Kemp and J. A. Hartman, with Mrs. J. S. Stacy at the organ.
The pallbearers were A. Heitchen, H. Wurzbacher, C. A. Wildey, E. J. Wood, A. A. Myrick and E. M. Harvey. Judge Stacy was in charge of the general arrangements.
The floral decorations, by request of the family, were simple though appropriate. A cluster of calla lilies, caught with white illusion laid [sic] upon the casket, which was festooned with smilax. Bouquets of roses, sprays of autumn leaves, palms and other plants also fitly attested the love and esteem of mourning kindred and friends.
It was very hard for the aged companion to bid good-bye to her with whom he had walked for more than fifty-seven years. Though Mr. Booth is a semi-mute – deaf but having command of speech – yet they were almost wholly isolated; in the world and yet not of the world. If we reflect a moment, this separation, in the nature of the case, means much more to the one who is left than to those who hear and who can join in the social and religious privileges of life. Yet it is a consoling thought to the children that Father and Mother enjoyed the many blessings of an education, and that even in their isolation they had peculiar and happy capacities for bringing sunshine and contentment into each other’s lives, though many struggles and deprivations marked the earlier years of their pilgrimage together in the pioneer period. How can he be otherwise than grateful, then, as the more than half century brings in sweet retrospect the labors and the loves of the wife and mother wrought into the home and wrought out in the lives of those permitted to dwell therein? Yes, he is grateful, even in his solitude, and the span of separation will be a narrow one at the farthest. Yes, we children are grateful likewise, though we have homes and loved ones still with us, but how unspeakable, how immeasurable the debt we owe to our mother! May every one of all those she held in her heart in these homes and in the homes of her brothers and sisters join her in the everlasting home beyond!
How better can we close these tributes of love to our mother than by the impresssive lines from Helen Marion Burnside, in a poem entitled


[And again, departing from the coast of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coast of Decapolis. And they bring unto him one that was deaf and had an impediment in his speech {sic}, and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. . . And looking up to heaven he sighed, and saith unto him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And straightaway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. – Mark vii, 31-35.]

“Ephphatha!” – aye –
When o’er our heads these earthly years have drifted,
The cross of silence we so long have borne,
At length from patient shoulders will be lifted
On some clear shining morn.
Oh friends – up heart!
Along your pilgrim way ne’er journey sadly,
Bethink ye, “Nobly borne is nobly done” –
The cross itself bears all who bear it gladly,
Until the goal be won.
Oh friends – up heart!
What though no earthly sound may break the stillness –
What though no loving voices cheer the way,
Yet Hope’s warm sunlight the surrounding chillness
Dispels with golden ray.
When earth is past,
Will not the songs of Paradisal gladness
Fall yet more sweetly on our open ears
Because of all the silence and the sadness
Of these, our mortal years?
Is it not much
That when the silver chord at length shall sever –
That when the Father calls His faithful child –
His voice will fall on virgin ears that never
By earth-sounds were defiled?
Oh friends – up heart!
Take up the cross, by sadness unimpeded,
Up heart, and ponder as ye march along,
How Christ’s “Ephphatha” sweet shall be succeeded
By Heaven’s great choral song!

Submitted by: Wilma Spice
Source: Anamosa Eureka, 28 January 1898 & 3 February 1898
Note: You can read more about Edmund and Mary Ann Booth on our Biography page and in the book, Edmund Booth, Deaf Pioneer, by Harry G. Lang (Washington, DC, Gallaudet University Press, 2004).
The book tells about Edmund as a Forty-Niner who went to California to strike it rich in the gold fields, and about Mary Ann's part back in Iowa. It also documents Edmund's life after his return, including his not inconsiderable influence as a newspaper editor and as a champion of education for the deaf.
Edmund Booth is also featured on the Library of Congress American Memories site, including his diary and letters chronicling his overland crossing; prospecting at Feather River, Hangtown, and Sonora; visits to Sacramento, Columa, Columbia, and Stockton; and return voyage via Nicaragua, 1854.

© Copyright 1997-2013, The Art Department, © Copyright 2014-2018, Richard Harrison.
Last updated on Tuesday, 15-Jan-2019 06:30:26 MST