Epilogue: The Pilgrimage Be Done
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

159 r Louisa Jacobs had been diagnosed with heart problems in 1907 and made out her will that summer, naming her closest friends as beneficiaries: sisters Lilian Willis (Boit, b. 1850) and Edith Willis (Grinnell), whom she had known and loved all their lives; her third cousins Genie Webb and Charlotte Forten (Grimké), whose mothers, like Louisa, were born in Edenton, North Carolina; the grown sons of her beloved friend “Delie” Sanders (Chew), Richard and Charles Chew, and Delie’s sister-in-law Martha Sanders; Louisa’s half-cousins William (1875–1933) and Elijah Knox (1871–1944) of New Bedford; her old Boston friend Hattie L. Smith; and teacher Loretta Simms (1876–1978), whom she had mentored and who would become, like Jacobs, matron of the National Home for the Relief of Destitute Colored Women and Children. After retiring in 1908 from Howard University’s Miner Hall, Louisa boarded at a house on V Street in Washington. Genie Webb’s Washington cousins Sarah Iredell (Fleetwood) and Laura Iredell (Hawkesworth) died in 1908 and 1909, respectively, and Genie’s sisters Edith and Cordelia died in Philadelphia in 1912. Louisa regularly visited the Grimké household on Corcoran Street, which included her old friends Charlotte and Frank Grimké; Archi­ bald Grimké and his daughter, the poet and playwright Angelina “Nina” Weld Grimké (1880–1958); and Richard D. Venning. In the summer of 1911, during her first visit to Boston in three years, Louisa wrote concerned letters to Angelina and Archibald Grimké after “Nina” fractured her spine in a train accident. Louisa returned to her V Street apartment in September and would remain there until 1914. Louisa’s last year in Washington sounded the death knell of an era. Charlotte Forten (Grimké) died July 23, 1914, followed the next month by Annie Purvis’s brother William and then, in September, by Christian Fleetwood. With death on her mind, Louisa made arrangements in August and September to set foundations and pedestals for the graves of her mother and uncle, who Epilogue The Pilgrimage Be Done 160 Epilogue: The Pilgrimage Be Done were buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her plan to be buried beside her mother would be carried out by Edith Willis (Grinnell ). Suffering from “hardening of the arteries and old age,” according to the diary of Robert Apthorp Boit (1846–1919), Louisa gave up her V Street arrangement in 1914 and moved permanently into the Brookline Street home of Edith Willis (Grinnell). The Willis family’s plan to care for Louisa in her old age had been set in motion back in 1904 when Cornelia Willis, on her deathbed, asked her daughter Edith to take on this loving responsibility.1 [From Edith Willis Grinnell.] Brookline April 5th 1917 My dear Miss Webb: Louisa died this morning peacefully and quietly. She failed very rapidly and it is merciful that it was so. I had not expected it so soon, but she has suffered much this last winter, and though I shall sorely miss her, I rejoice she is at rest. Her love has meant very much to me all my life. Your letter, with the psalms came yesterday morning. She had then lost unconsciousness of her surroundings so would not know of your loving thought for her. We shall have the Episcopal service here, by our Rector,2 some time on Saturday. We have to consult his convenience. Sincerely yours Edith Willis Grinnell r [From Reverend Francis J. Grimké. Postmarked “November 7, 1919, from Washington, D.C.”; addressed to “Mrs. Cordelia Webb Hegamin,3 1914 W. Norris Street, Philadelphia, Penn.” On the envelope, in pencil, in a later hand, “Louise Jacobs died prior to Eugenie Webb.”] 1415 Corcoran Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. Nov. 7, 1919 Dear Cordelia: I was surprised to learn of the death of Genie. I am sure, while you will miss her, it must be a great relief to you, in view of her condition both physical and Epilogue: The Pilgrimage Be Done 161 mental, to know that she is at last at rest. I am sure you did all that you could to make her comfortable and happy. The fact that she seemed never to be satisfied, was no fault of yours, but due purely to her mental condition. I shall always think of her, as I used to know her years ago, before the change came in her condition. I was always very fond of her, and it was always a pleasure to meet her...



Subject Headings

  • Jacobs, Louisa Matilda, 1833-1917 -- Correspondence.
  • Purvis, Annie (Harriet Ann), 1848-1917 -- Correspondence.
  • Webb, Eugenie, 1856-1919 -- Correspondence.
  • African American women -- Correspondence.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access