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Emma Eugenia Howell

1897 - 1912

Source:  Burnet Bulletin, 30 May 1912
Transcribed by JoAnn Myers, Nov. 2007

Born Sept 5, 1897 -- Died April 1, 1912.

Death is at all times solemn, at all times wonderful, often beautiful.  If the life has been beautiful then so is the death.  In the mad whirl of affairs that engulf us, we are apt to regard death as merely a natural phenomenon and to lose sight of the fact, that when a Christian crosses the bar the touch of the Divine Hand  is always discernible.

When the Howell family was called upon to give up the mother from their home, it was hard to tell on whom the blow fell hardest.  The husband and children, the father and mother, the brothers and sisters all felt the crushing weight; yet to all who knew Emma it seemed that upon her the stroke was the heaviest.  A child still, she felt a personal loss more keenly than did the younger children.  Wise beyond her years, she knew that into her hands had fallen the task of caring for the family, of rearing the little ones, of being daughter, sister, and mother.  It was hers to crush her own grief and find balm for the wounds of her dear ones.

But it was not to last.  The ever watchful, loving and merciful eye of a tender Father was over her.  To Him it was plain that the task was too great, so he wisely relieved her frail body of the burden.

When it was first known that she was seriously ill and that her life was hanging in the balance, we all felt that for the sake of her father and the others dependent upon her, it would be best for her to live.  But when we turned to the other side of the picture and saw her future with its duties, its perplexities that only a mother's company would relieve, its sorrows and disappointments that do not kill, but unmercifully leave us suffering, then we knew that for Emma's sake it was best that she go.

Because of her reserved, sensitive nature, it was necessary to live very near to her to know her.  We are too prone to pass unnoticed many charming and noble traits of character until death brings them more prominently into view, yet to all who were in daily contact with Emma Howell, the mention of her virtues will bring no surprises. 

During the few months in which I had an opportunity to know her as a student, I was enabled to penetrate the quiet exterior of her manners and to find within a most beautiful nature, patient and loving.  To all commands she yielded an unquestioning obedience.  No matter how long the lesson or how hard, she simply smiled and went bravely to work with no thought of complaint.  She seemed to understand that a teacher's path is not all roses, and she realized that "small service is true service while it lasts."  The weariness and heartache of many a long day were lessened by her sunny little smiling "goodbye" at the top of the stairs.

her companions also recognized her helpfulness.  The new student entering an unfamiliar room for the first time, always found Emma ready to show the way.  The tired child with a puzzling problem often found Emma beside her deftly removing the tangles.

Deeds like these are not lost among children.  On the morning of April 1st when news came that Emma Howell was dying, the ache in many a youthful heart was apparent.  The dainty affectionate little girl, and the big fun loving boy full of feeling never-the-less, all felt that something dear was going from us, but that we had all been happier because she had lived.

During the few weeks of her illness the sense of responsibility never left her.  Her conscious hours were filled with thoughts of others; of anxiety for her father and brother who were then almost as near the Valley of the Shadow as she.  Her gratefulness to her nurses and her affection for them was touching.  When her fever-racked body was tossing in delirium, her thoughts were of the children and their needs.  Belle must be kept in school and the baby brother must be cared for.  Nothing was forgotten, and when the icy hand was closing over her, her feverish lips framed the petition that she would have uttered many times had she lived.  "Mama, come to me, I need you so badly."  The mother could not come; the daughter went.

Just one month from the day she bade her mother adieu she too was laid to rest.  Then Burnet witnessed the loneliest most pathetic funeral for years.  Of her own family only the sobbing little sister Elizabeth, stood by the grave and realized what was happening.  The younger children viewed the little white casket and the flower strewn mound that hid it from view, and wondered what had become of Emma.  Kind friends and loving relatives performed the last sad rites and left her to sleep till the great awakening.

"Sleep soft, beloved, we sometimes say,
But have no tune to charm away
Sad dreams that through the eyelids creep,
But [remainder of line unreadable]
Shall break the happy slumber when
He giveth his beloved sleep."

Margaret Cotham

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