FITZHUGH, Mrs. Laura
San Joaquin Valley Argus
February 23, 1878
Died at Snelling, June 7th, 1877, Mrs. Laura Fitzhugh, widow of the late Dr. J. W. Fitzhugh, aged 51 years.
The cherished subject of this sketch was born in Boone county, Mo. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Benson, were Virginians, and were very nearly related to the Abbots, so well and favorably known as one of Virginia's most noble families. And who that has ever met Mrs. Dr. Fitzhugh can doubt but that she came from the most noble and gentle blood of America? Being possessed of a large share of childish beauty and sweet manners, her wealthy and influential parents (the writer is indebted to an old slave of the family for this information) anticipated for their lovely child and brilliant future; but, alas! For the frailty of human hopes; for just a little Laura was budding into sweet childhood, that found and loving mother was taken by the death angel to live again in a brighter and fairer land. And Mr. Benson found it necessary to place his daughter in a boarding school, where she remained until she was sixteen years of age. At that time she met Dr. Fitzhugh, then a handsome, talented physician. They were married and soon retired from the gay society of town to live upon a farm in Henry county, Mo. The farm was a wedding gift to the Doctor, from Mr. Benson, the father of this child - bride. The Doctor was of very domesticated turn of mind, while the young Laura had not awakened for her maiden dreams of beauty, refinement, elegance and ease – dreams with which all gifted with a love for the beautiful, grand and sublime, people their brains these were part of the being of this graceful, gentle, loving woman. Her idea of home was in strict accordance with a quotation which we remember from
"Home is the resort
Of love, of joy, of peace, and plenty where,
Supporting and supported, polished friends
And dear relations mingle into bliss."
But it would seem as though it had been pre ordained that this rare and gifted woman should never fill the position for which nature had so richly and bounteously fitted her. For just as she merged into the sweet state of finished womanhood, the Doctor concluded to try his fortune in this, then new and uncultivated country. In 1852, with a good and faithful old family slave, who is still living, and other servants, and with energy, comfort and many luxuries, this delicate lady, who had never known aught but a life of ease and refinement, came like a true and faithful wife to share her husband's fortunes; and, after arriving although almost constantly surrounded by the coarse, rough, and vulgar, she not only retained all the refinement that nature and education had given her, but by her elegance and gracefulness of manner she assisted in cultivation those with whom she associated. Her sweet, gentle voice, her kind, charitable heart, ever ready to rejoice with those who had occasion to rejoice, and whose gentle, loving eye could shed the tear of pity and sympathy over the grief’s and sorrows of those around her. She loved everything that was beautiful both in nature and in art. No little wild-flower within ocular distance ever missed her admiration. Oh! how the heart swells, and aches, and throbs when the truth flashes o'er us that we shall never meet this well-beloved and dearly-cherished friend on earth again. Then, if we who are not cognate, feel so deeply and so thrillingly this loss, how deep, how full of woe, how bitter the anguish of those dear ones allied by the tenderest of all earthly ties – the children, those whom she loved almost to idolatry. Oh, how sad to see no more the loving black eyes so full of fond affection; to hear no more the sweetest voice that ever fell upon their ears; to feel no more that little, soft, white hand that was wont to lay so lovingly upon their fevered and aching heads, or twining so tenderly among their shining hair those little fingers, in token of mother's love and mother's sympathy; to listen no more to the sweet, silvery laugh that often called them in groups to her side to witness some novel scene or join her in her admiration of some rare flower. Oh! yes, but, do not let her gentle, silent passing away fill your young hearts with bitterness, anguish or despair. Your lovely angel mother, your sweet, low voiced mamma has only passed under the dark, mysterious drapery which hides the lovely bowers where bright, glad angels had long awaited to welcome the delicate, fragile blossom. Yes, my darlings, your mother dwells in the gem-bedecked home of the spirit world, with all of her earth soul longings gratified. She needed no refining fire to fit her for that glorious home. Then, weep not, sorrow not, but with an eye of faith, and a heart of trust, look up and over and say "Mother, darling mother, we will smile and be glad. We will be true and faithful, that your may have no care to mar your new found joy in the gloden glory of the bright beyond. Sing and rejoice with the saints. Twine garlands that will not fade or perish, with which to crown our brows when we meet and greet you in your home in paradise."
To give some idea of how well beloved by her husband was this good, true and faithful wife, we will relate a little incident. One evening, seated with this dear friend beside her cheerful hearth fire, her son Cole came in and handed her a litter. Looking at the superscription, she said, while a sweet smile played upon the animated face, "Oh! it's from the Doctor." We watched the glowing tender expression of her countenance, until we saw the silent tears glistening in her eyes. She then looked up and , smiling through the crystal drops, said, "Just listen!" And again the tear dimmed orbs sought the page, and she read aloud: "My dear, I feel that a fortune is within my grasp. Be patient a few short months and your brightest hopes and aspirations will, I trust, be gratified. I have given my claim a name which I for years have loved above all other names. I call it the Laura."
One evening in early spring, while riding over the plains with this nature loving woman, looking for wild flowers and mosses to be sent to Miss Rose, who was then attending the Mills' Seminary at Oakland, we said, "Mrs. Fitzhugh, have you any favorite among your children?" After a moment's pause she answered, "No. Mrs. Steele, I love them all:" and with that sweet pathos so natural to her, she continued: "Rose is a sweet, loving child of nature. She always reminds me of a moss rosebud swinging to and fro to bird music. May is quiet, like her pa, but none the less loving. Hale being my first born claims a large share of my mother love. Cole is so affectionate and loves me so dearly I could not take from him one grain to give to the rest. And little Gordon, you know, is our baby, and I feel that he is known, to our baby, and I feel that he is very, very dear to me."
Being naturally of a delicate temperament, she was not fitted for the coarse and hard labors of life, but still her love of order made her industrious and extremely neat. Her home was a picture of floral beauty and domestic happiness. In all the long years of social intercourse with this family, we never heard a harsh or unkind word spoken either by mother or children. This whole family have ever been noted for their politeness and suavity of manner, Being, as we have remarked, of a delicate and fragile constitution, she was ill prepared to receive the news of the sudden death of her loving and devoted husband. From that day her face became more and more attenuated, her hands more transparent, her large dark eyes more spiritual, and her sweet voice more tender. Every day life seemed to grow less desirable, until weary of its cares she laid down, and like her dear companion, without a murmur or groan, she passed away, and while the casket which had contained the spirit was lying in its marble like liveliness, the soul winged its way to the bright realms of spirit worked, and was caught in the loving arms of him who had gone before her, while the angels sang glad songs and waved sweet chaplets in honor of the happy reunion, and the heavenly arches rang with the sweet chorus, "There's room enough in paradise for all a home in glory."
Contributed by: Carol Lackey