Tuesday, July 26, 2011

“O what a gospel!”

It is common to see a family name inscribed at the base of a pedestal monument. Inscribed at the base of the monument for Rev. Thomas Parker (b. 1827, d. 1863) is not Parker but M. E. Church—Methodist Episcopal Church.

DEC. 25, 1827.
JUNE 8, 1863.
35 Yrs. 5 Mos. 13 Ds.

while dying he exclaimed,
i am at the river, and am looking
both ways. bright, all bright!
o what a gospel!

Letters written to James Anderson by his mother and sister,1 members of the M. E. Church in Marion, Ohio, give an account of the Rev. Parker’s death.

Mrs. Thomas Anderson to her son James:

Well, dear Princie, Mr. Parker at three o’clock this morning, exchanged worlds. He could not be convinced that he was about to die until Saturday, for he had a strange delusion that he was going to be brought down to the very gates of death, and then by supernatural power raised to preach the gospel of Jesus for many years. But on Saturday, feeling that his end was near he gave up, and wished to be alone with his wife. On the Sabbath, the holy sacrament was administered. Just a short time before he breathed his last he said to his mother: “I am all right, I am safe, and it is almost over. I shall soon meet our friends who have gone before and tell them the good news.” Thus passed away a good man. He crossed the river of death in safety. The cold waves of Jordan had no terrors for him.

Miss Annie Anderson to her brother James:

Mother gave you the particulars of Mr. Parker’s death. His family feel their loss greatly, and have our sympathy. Mr. Parker was a good man and well prepared to die. He looks natural in death, and a sweet expression of contentment and peace is on his face. He will be buried tomorrow afternoon at 3 o’clock; and the funeral sermon at his particular request will be preached by the Rev. L. B. Gurley. On Sunday morning at 11 o’clock the corpse of —, who drank himself to death, was found in a stable in town. Thus two men died, and what a contrast! One the most beautiful of all deaths, and the other the most miserable.

Marion Cemetery, Marion, Ohio

1Anderson, James H. Life and Letters of Judge Thomas J. Anderson and Wife. Columbus: F. J. Heer, 1904.


  1. If only accounts of death were written like that now.

  2. These old letters are fascinating and just like old newspaper articles, they fill you in on all the morbid little details, such as the deceased's appearance etc.

  3. I came across them with a search of Google Books. There were other references to Mr. Parker--mostly saying what a good minister he was. One did mention that he had been in ill health. Makes it all so real when you read first-hand accounts.


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