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In Their Own Words

January 08, 1871

Financial Troubles Tested Faith

In Richmond County, the financial and emotional problems which beset Gertrude Thomas and her husband in the years during and after Reconstruction sometime shook her very strong faith to its foundations:

“… I have been thinking this morning of the wild tumult in my head the other day, when through my mind there came a doubt if Julian [her youngest son, sick with a fever] would live. Mr. Thomas appeared to think him very ill and said so. I did not rise from my seat, and I know my husband thought I was a careless mother as he busied himself in preparing some medicine. I did not pray, but into my heart there came a wild longing to wrestle with the grim angel Ayreal for the life of my baby. It was not until he called me that I went to the bed and lay down by him. ‘Mr. Thomas,’ said I, ‘if God takes my baby from me I do not know what I will do.’ He did not understand me. I lay down by Julian and taking his hand in mine I felt how entirely helpless, how utterly impotent I was to help him from drifting from me, and unconsciously with my thought I tightened the clasp upon his little hand. It was not long but it seemed an age that this defiant spirit continued, and then my over burdened heart was relieved by tears. Julian is better, much better. He has had no fever yesterday or today and I am grateful, truly grateful but in my own consciousness I realise that I was not willing to say, ‘Thy will be done’ had that will required my baby, my darling to be taken from me.”

Source: Virginia Ingraham Burr (ed.), The Secret Eye: The Journal of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, 1848-1889 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990), pp. 360.