I thought it was interesting how Aunt Bessie's (daughter of George and Sarah Kirkham) personality was highlighted in her letter. Also, the important historical information is in the third paragraph, as Kirk tells. I included a typed copy of that paragraph so it would be easier to read.
The sketch is one that George drew of his wife and son. I think it is Sara and her firstborn, but if someone knows different, please let me know.
Bessie mentions the B.Y.U. Library. Kathy Reed introduced me to the fact that there is a file there for George Kirkham in what I think is special selections area. I have looked through it and looked at the materials Bessie donated. Anyone can go to that library and see and copy the materials.
Bessie's Letter to Adah
Typed copy of part of a letter written by Bessie LaVerne Kirkham Fillerup, daughter of George and Sarah Kirkham. It was written to Adah Kirkham Smith, her niece, on 26 March 1977.
Was thrilled to hear you talk of the S. L. Temple and you folks going thru and remembering your Grandpa’s work there. Must tell you this, it was there in the Temple he was working when his last work was completed he got so interested in what he was doing that he was locked in for the night and he told us how “grand and wonderful” he felt to be there for a whole night, so calm and peaceful he said. When you go thru remember he helped to build it all, especially the carvings, etc. When I go, and we always go thru when we go to Utah, I try to touch the woodwork especially the Celestial room and the room before that, the beautiful white woodwork, the doorways, steps, etc. etc. Uncle Leonard and I was married in the little room (wedding room) just up the stairs at the end of the Celestial room, and I have often heard him say that was his special job. Not long ago I sent them, in his honor, a beautiful knit lace doilie for that room and when I go now, I see it under one of those beautiful vases. It is so thrilling to remember my beloved Father and his life and work and so happy I assembled his Book of Remembrance and placed it in the B.Y.U. Library for all to read and remember him, along with his precious wives and children. He helped to build the St. George, Manti, Logan, Salt Lake Temples, and it was 100 years ago that he was at the Dedication of the St. George Temple and at that Dedication that he received his call for a Mission to England. We attended the St. George Temple re-opening and Dedication and was so sorry to see all the beautiful old things and decorations gone that Father knew and loved, and I am glad we went thru it before it changed.
Sketch by George Kirkham
Kathy Kirkham Reed, daughter of William G. Kirkham and grand daughter of Lott and Sarah Kirkham wrote to tell me the picture George drew of Sarah is with her son Joseph, who died when he was three years old. The following are partial entries (only the material pertaining to Joseph) from the journal of George Kirkham which explain his son’s illness and death. And added note is that George’s mother, Mary Ann Astington Kirkham died on October 23, 1881.
Sunday Oct 30, 1881: I went to the Sunday School Anniversary in the morning. I stayed at home in the afternoon with my little Joseph, who was not well, while his mother Sarah and her mother (Note CJC – Eliza Russon) went to the afternoon meeting.
Monday, Oct 31, 1881: I went to work all day for Sister Willes, and continued so all the week, sitting up at night with our little Joseph who was getting worse. We had Brother Hart to come and see him, who was a doctor of herbs. He said our little boy had got the Typhoid Fever, and was a very sick child.
Sunday, Nov 6, 1881: We all stayed at home on account of our little son who was very sick. It stormed most of the day, snowing and blowing. It was a very dismal day, for our little boy was very sick. We sat up all night with him, my wife with him the first part and me from 12 until morning.
Monday, Nov 7, 1881: Our boy was getting worse. We had a Bro. Hart tending him. We had to tend him very close.
Tuesday, Nov 8, 1881: I worked all day in the shop. We had to sit up all night and watch all day. At night we thought we would have to part with him, but the Lord answered our prayers and we still were able to keep him. He was now down to the lowest notch. His mouth and lips were black, and his looks would give us the horrors.
Wednesday, Nov 9, 1881: I stayed home all day. My little boy Joseph was very bad. We were doing all we could to get him better, and called on the Lord to help him. He was a bright little tot.
Thursday, Nov 10, 1881: I returned home and found my wives feeling very bad about my little boy. He was not very much better. We sat up all night, about 12 o’clock he took worse and never slept a wink hardly the rest of the night. I went in search of beef. I went to 3 places before I could get it, to make some beef tea to take. He was now very low and would take all the attention we can give, with the blessings of the All Mighty to save him.
Friday, Nov 11, 1881: During the day he looked very bad, but he took another change for the better. ….. At midnight my wives called me up, and I sat up the rest of the night. We had to feed him with a spoon, and only a little at a time, either toast, water, egg and brandy pearl barley, water rice, water beef tea, besides his medicine.
Saturday, Nov 12, 1881: I stayed up all night. I stayed home all day until night.
Sunday Nov 13, 1881: My little Sarah’s birthday, my little daughter whom we buried during the past summer, who was only 9 months and some weeks when we buried her.
Monday Nov 14, 1881: H seemed to be better. …….so, I returned home and was glad I did in one sense of the word, for my boy took worse and was bad all day. I ran in every few minutes to see him. How we did pray to the Lord to spare his life, and had others do the same. He was most all skin and bones. We believed the Lord would yet preserve his life. Most all others thought he would die. But we wanted his life spared so bad. He was such a smart child
Friday Nov 18, 1881: Our little boy would be better of all his trouble if not for a gathering in his head, which gave him great pain.
Saturday Nov 19, 1881: …..I found my folks sitting up taking care of our little boy.
Tuesday, Nov 22, 1881: Our little boy still laid in bed.
Friday, Nov 25, 1881: …..At midnight I was up as usual to watch over my little boy who was very sick, that is weakly sick. Nothing but skin and bones, as you might say.
Sunday, Nov 27, 1881:….We sat up every night with my little boy, for he was a poor little sufferer.
Saturday, Dec 3,, 1881: …..We did not know whether our little boy would get through or not, he was so low. I laid down and my Sarah came and called me up at 10 o’clock. I got up and administered to little Joseph and they laid him down again. I went and laid down again and slept until 7 o’clock. Then I arose and my wife went to bed, but our little boy was suffering very bad with the gathering in the head. He could not sleep for it.
Sunday, Dec 4, 1881: I stayed at home all day keeping my boy company, together with his mother and Mary. It had been a weary time for us, and he was now going thinner and thinner.
Monday, Dec 5 1881: …..I sat up with our boy as usual and waited on him, and did all I could to comfort him.
Wednesday, Dec 7, 1881: (Complete entry) I went to work all day. The weather was very cold and windy, but about 10 o’clock it cleared off and was warm all the day. When I got home, I was compelled to hear the sad news. Sad in one sense, not in another, that my poor little boy Joseph was dead. He was but a skeleton and was a sorrowful sight to look at. Bro. Loutensock made his coffin. Our neighbor Sister Austin made his clothes, also. But he was now out of his pain, having suffered for over 5 weeks. We all were almost worn out, but did not shrink from doing all we could to comfort him while he lived.
Thursday, Dec 8, 1881 (Complete entry) The weather was fine and clear. My father-in-law (Note CJC – Lott Russon) dug his grave. The day was a dreary one for us. At 3 o’clock a number of our friends, besides our relations, came to bury our dear little Joseph, who was born while I was working out his mother’s and his aunt’s (Note CJC- both being married to him ) emigration in Salt Lake City on the tabernacle. (Note CJC- Was he paying back to the PEF?) He was now 3 years and 3 months old, and he was a star of our family, and the Lord saw fit to take him and we have to submit to it, for the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, and blessed be the name of the Lord. It seemed as though we had suffered great during the past summer, having lost 3 children and a mother (Note CJC- see above), but all we could do now was to try and get over it, and acknowledge the hand of the Lord in it. He told his mother just before he took sick, he was going on a mission up to the graveyard, and many other things he said, which were or did not seem natural for a little boy like him to say. We could remember so many things he said, and how good and bright he was, and willing to do anything he was told to do, but when I think how he suffered and fell away to nothing, as you might say. When I came home in the evening and saw him being washed by his grandmother, about 10 minutes after his death, I thought I would have sunk. It was a dreadful sight to see. His bones could have been counted almost. As I write about him my heart is sad, but I said the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, and blessed by the name of the Lord.
Friday, Dec 9, 1881: I went to work as usual, feeling bad about my little boy, now and then during the day bursting in tears for the loss of Joseph. At night I returned to home and still felt very bad, knowing we had two sick, Rachel and Eliza. Eliza Russon (Note CJC- his mother-in-law probably) stayed with them while we went and buried little Joseph. Rachel was the worst. She had got the same complaint as Joseph.
Note-cjc- Over time, Rachel and Eliza improved and were healed. These children were daughters of Mary and George.