Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Epitaph: Her happy release

On the afternoon that I visited West Rushville Cemetery to photograph the gravestone of Jesse Rowles (aka the stone with the carver’s advertisement), I also photographed the nearby gravestone of Sarah Louisa Rowles (d. 1842).

Sarah is the right age to be a daughter or niece of Jesse, though I have no evidence that reveals their relationship. It is interesting to note that her gravestone includes neither “wife of” nor “daughter of.”

The Sarah Rowles stone is not signed, but it is consistent in style and material with other stones by local stone cutter John Strickler.



In memory
of
SARAH LOUISA
ROWLES,
depart this life
November 9, 1842:
aged 33 years, 6
months, & 2
days.


The epitaph is taken from the hymn “Death of a Sister,” which can be found in an 1806 collection of hymns assembled by Englishman John Dobell (b. 1757, d. 1840). That collection attributes the hymn to “Anon,” and I have found no other source that names the author.

Compare the epitaph on the stone to this version from the Dobell collection:

’Tis finish’d! the conflict is past,
The heaven-born spirit is fled;
Her wish is accomplish’d at last,
And now she’s entomb’d with the dead.

The months of affliction are o’er,
The days and the nights of distress;
We see her in anguish no more—
She’s gain’d her happy release.


No sickness, or sorrow, or pain,
Shall ever disquiet her now;
For death to her spirit was gain,
Since Christ was her life when below.

Her soul has now taken its flight
To mansions of glory above,
To mingle with angels of light.
And dwell in the kingdom of love.

The victory now is obtain’d;
She’s gone her dear Saviour to see;
Her wishes she fully has gain’d—
She’s now where she longed to be.

The coffin, the shroud, and the grave,
To her were no objects of dread;
On him who is mighty to save,
Her soul was with confidence stay’d.

Then let us forbear to complain,
That she is now gone from our sight;
We soon shall behold her again,
With new and redoubled delight.


West Rushville Cemetery, Fairfield County, Ohio

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