Jessie Fremont Traver Moore
Amazing Graves: Ghosts of Sand Lake
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Beloved brothers and sisters, welcome to my little Family's corner of this fine cemetery. I am Jessie Fremont Traver Moore, or Mrs. P.H. Moore as I was better known. I reside here with my past and future relatives, including my great grandfather, Henry Wethy, who fought in the Revolutionary War.
I was born at the Traver farm on Vosburgh Road in 1857. My parents, who attended the Sand Lake Baptist Church and for whom a stained glass window there is named, gave me the middle name “Fremont” after an abolitionist candidate for President who has since faded from knowledge. I know how that feels. Needless to say, I was raised to respect peoples of all races and origins as worthy of the good news of salvation.
Indeed, so enthused by this was I that I attended the Female Seminary first in Lansingburgh, then in Hamilton, N.Y., where I met my husband. At the slightly advanced age of 22, I married my dear Pitt, the son of an illustrious missionary, a man who shared my ambition to save as many heathens as possible.
It was not easy to leave behind my dear parents, my favorite brother Charles, or my other siblings, but so we did, and sailed for Assam, India. It took weeks to get to our post, most of the voyage by sea. Now, it is my policy always to express gratitude for all that is good in anything and speak as little as possible of any discomfort or suffering that might have been entailed. [A face that suggests there was plenty] There are people in this cemetery who never left the county, or the state of New York, but I traveled between here and India three times. I saw the grandeur of Naples, Rome, Paris and London and the steamy Suez Canal, exotic Ceylon and oh so many points in between. A woman could not ask for greater adventures.
Pitt and I ministered for 36 years in Assam, with only three furloughs home. This meant leaving our dear only child Clara back here for her education, with only letters to keep us connected – letters, and the rare visit when we were able to get home or she was able to come out. Thankfully, we were rewarded with great satisfaction not only in her and in our work and our family, but in our colleagues and friends.
In Assam we not only brought many Assamese to Christ, we started a school that eventually was educating over 100 girls, Hindus and Muslims as well as Christians. We participated in the civic life of Nowgong, and I counted many lovely Hindu and Muslim ladies among my acquaintance, even those who did not feel compelled to accept Jesus despite my best efforts to share the Good News with them over tea in their homes. In my diaries – which, by the way, I published -- I remarked how I nonetheless hoped I would see them in heaven.
Now, I would forgive you for thinking at this point that since I have clearly passed already I could tell you whether I have met with those lovely ladies in heaven, but I’m afraid I have not been authorized to reveal any information about what comes next. We who are dead leave all that gazing into mirrors darkly to you.
I can tell you that my dear husband Pitt labored to save souls as devotedly as any Baptist who ever lived, and I was right there doing it with him, teaching, translating, and administering. You must understand that many an ambitious young missionary couple would start out full of hope -- and luggage -- but be forced to retreat because one or the other’s health would fail quickly in the tropical heat. This may explain why we never had as many able missionaries in the field as we needed. Fortunately, Pitt and I were blessed with strong constitutions, at least until I was 57 and could no longer face the thought of another summer in India. I was making my way home at the very moment war between Germany and England broke out, which added some suspense about torpedoes to the voyage. What blessed relief it was to return to Sand Lake and sit in the shade of the Elm trees. Pitt had planned to follow me home soon, but he went to his reward in 1916 while he was still in India, with his brother Penn by his side instead of me.
Of course, loss and grief are ever part of life – I lost my dear daughter just eight years later -- but so is joy. I wish you as much of it as you can bear. I went to my reward in 1936. I do pray, brothers and sisters, that you may ever keep your hearts open to all of God’s children.
[Sandra L. Hutchison wrote the above, with edits by Dee Erickson, Jessie's great-grandniece. Diane Doring protrayed Jessie. Photos on this page by Andrew Mace and Dee Erickson.]