One by One the Moments Fall: 1879–1880
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53 r Forty-six-year-old Lulu Jacobs sends a condolence letter to twenty-threeyear -old Genie Webb on the death of their mutual friend, Delie Chew, whom Genie cared for in her last days. Lulu reintroduces herself by asking permission to address her as “Genie” and then by describing her own deep love for Delie. Lulu acknowledges that Genie’s faith is stronger than her own, but she agrees that they should mention each other in their prayers as part of their newly developing friendship, forged in grief. She suggests that Genie read Adelaide Proctor’s inspirational poem “One by One.” As the two women come to know each other better, they exchange accounts of the friends and relatives they have in common: the Vennings and Chews in Philadelphia, and Genie’s cousins Charlotte Forten, Annie Purvis, and the Iredells in Washington. Lulu urges the reluctant Genie to reveal Delie’s deathbed words, then retracts her request out of respect for the sanctity of such an intimate moment. [From Louisa Jacobs. Postmarked “Nov. 24, 1879”; addressed to “Fillmore Street, Camden, N.J.”] 1419 Pierce Place1 Washington, Nov. 21st 1879 Dear Friend It is evening and I am alone. Your cousin Charlotte and mother2 having gone to church, and I have come here to speak awhile with you. I am glad you wrote to me. Intuitively I have felt that one or the other would sooner or later write. You were kind in not waiting for me. After our beloved one3 left us I wanted to write and ask you to tell me of those last days since it was your sad privilege to pass them with her. I would it had been mine too. Then I remembered Genie (for you will let me call you by this name) how your own heart was One by One the Moments Fall 1879–1880 Cordelia “Delie” Sanders (Chew) with unidentified children, probably her sons, Charles Sanders Chew and Richard Sanders Chew. (Library Company of Philadelphia) One by One the Moments Fall: 1879–1880 55 torn, not only by this grief but another so recently passed4 through how it all came back with a fresh overwhelming force. So I did not ask the boon. But sometime when your heart is better healed you must tell me all about it. Yes, I loved her most dearly. It was a rare friendship, such as comes but once in a lifetime. God has seen fit to break the link, and I bow to his behest, looking beyond sorrow and self to that hereafter, where my heart is, there to be united to the lost and loved through the endless ages of eternity. This thought is a help to me and yet it does not comfort me now as it ought. Did she speak to any of you before she went—to her children? They tell me she suffered fearfully at the end. Poor darling! I would she could have been spared that. I am glad you cared enough for me to write, for many are the times I have thought of you and been thankful that you were where I could not be, knowing Delie loved you and your presence gave her comfort. My dear Genie I can only take your hand in a oneness of sympathy and love and say, look up, be comforted, your loved ones and mine are at rest. All life’s trials for them are over. They rest from their labors. Oh! If our hearts were not so clinging in their selfishness we would not mourn a day. And yet I believe God does not chide us for that since it is not rebellious grief. Your prayer to take with Delie the sacrament you tell me was answered. It must have been a precious comfort and will ever be a precious memory. I would I shared it with you. I am not yet settled in a home. Give my regards to your sister Miss Edith.5 I trust all the little people6 are well, and that you are not working too hard. I wish the distance was less that separates us. Think of me and write as you would to a friend feeling that there will always be a bond of sympathy between us. Sincerely yours, Louise r [From Louisa. Postmarked “Dec. 10, 1879”; addressed to “Fillmore Street, Camden, N.J.”] 1409 K Street7 Washington, Dec. 10th, 1879 My dear Genie I thought to answer your letter before this. It came...



Subject Headings

  • Jacobs, Louisa Matilda, 1833-1917 -- Correspondence.
  • Purvis, Annie (Harriet Ann), 1848-1917 -- Correspondence.
  • Webb, Eugenie, 1856-1919 -- Correspondence.
  • African American women -- Correspondence.
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