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Letter to Mr. Samuel Giesy, Marshall College, Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, from his mother, Mary M. Giesy, Lancaster, Ohio, December 28, 1843



Lancaster, Ohio, Dec 28th, 1843

My dear son Samuel:

A mother's heart is ever filled with kind wishes, and sincere prayers, in behalf of dear children. Her mind is impressed with deep concern and solicitude, whilst thinking of the children of her bosom, one by one, and then collectively of them all, in their serious relations in life. She embraces them all with tenderest fondness, and her heart beats with thrilling and indescribible emotions of love and affection for every one. And whilst absorbed in silent meditation over her children – as a mother and a father frequently are, by day and by night – they are not only called up, before her mind's eye, in their respective situations in life, one after another, however distant they may be; but they are also ranged before her mental vision as regards the past, the present, and the future. Thinking of the present condition, of what they now are, a mother casts a retrospective view of the past, still hovering with fond recollection over their helpless, innocent state of infancy, when she, in her cares, and anxieties, and sleepless nights, alone could sooth and cherish them, and next to God, preserve their life. Then she looks forward with a wishful eye into the future, anxious to lift the mysterious veil of futurity, their to behold her children, if this were possible, through all the shifting scenes of time to their journey's end. Yes, this it is, the future condition of her children, which calls forth the deepest concern of an affectionate mother. Whilst her heart overflows in silent prayer with the sincerest gratitude to God, for past protection, and blessings, and favors, she implores His divine aid and guidance for the future. For, as time imperceptibly, but speedily, moves onward, adding to the number of years one after another in rapid succession, hastening the parents to the goal of earthly existence, and the children into active life, she often secretly asks: what will become of this my son, of that dear daughter, – what will be the condition of them all, in some years hence, when I, perhaps, am no more! Then the breast heaves with increased affection and solicitude for them, and her soul earnestly longs to tender direction, admonition, and warning to their youthful hearts. These considerations and promptings of the heart, have called forth this epistle, intended as a "new year's wish." To exchange congratulations, kind gifts, and good wishes, at the beginning of a new year, is a custom which has become sacred by age; it is still observed extensively among nations, and not without happy effects. While the incense of gratitude arises from the altar of the heart, the hand of charity and benevolence is extended to the needy and the destitute, when this custom is observed in its proper meaning. The hungry is fed, the naked is clothed, the forsaken is sheltered. Parents rejoice and counsel the hearts of their children; ministers of the gospel impress their people with a sense of God’s goodness and mercy, of the brevity of life, and the importance of time, urging and persuading them, in holy eloquence, to a proper use of life, and time, with all the blessings, as pilgrims to a world on high.

But I must return to you, my dear son, wishing you a happy new year, – may you commence this next year in the full enjoyment of health, and under circumstances, every way calculated to render your situation happy and blessed. God grant in his mercy, that you may live to see the close of this year, and many more to come, if this be consistent with his holy will. May you be enabled, by His grace, to spend every day of it profitably to yourself and in the service of Jesus Christ. May this year be crowned with a full measure of heaven’s rich blessings to your body and soul. May you increase in knowledge, virtue, and holiness, and grow in favor with God and men. These, dear Samuel, are my sincerest wishes and most ardent prayer to God for you.

I now add a few suggestions and directions to your careful consideration. You are now engaged in a course of studies preparatory to the gospel ministry. I trust you will never lose site of this object, for which you were sent to an institution of learning and mental and moral training. But having that object in view, you ought to improve with diligence and perseverance all the means afforded you for the accomplishment of it. Without exertion & perseverance no great end can ever be accomplished. Hence we find many persons of careless, indolent habits, who have, in various stations in life, for want of exertion and energy of action, in the midst of all the means and facilities that could be afforded, at last been utterly ruined, becoming unhappy themselves, and useless to others. You should, therefore, faithfully improve your present time with all the opportunities, and means, which are so liberally afforded you for the obtaining of that important end, for which they are designed. This is your seed-time; the harvest will follow. If you cultivate your mind and heart, enriching them with knowledge and virtue, and holiness, you will prepare for yourself a rich harvest in a happy and useful life. Devote to this purpose, every day of this new year, and with the blessing of God, you will succeed and prosper.

A College life, however, is attended with many temptations and alurements to sin, which are sometimes not so easily overcome. And even he, who may think that he stands most safely & securely, without being constantly in his guard, is apt to fall in an unhappy hour. My dear son, you are far removed from your affectionate parents and from their immediate care and direction. You ought therefore to be the more careful and deliberate in all your actions and conduct, and the more prudent and guarded in the selection of your friends & companions. Recollect, that while you are cultivating your mind, and storing it with useful knowledge, you ought, with no less care & diligence, improve your heart, amend your life, and endeavor to grow in grace daily. For knowledge alone, without piety of heart, and blessings of life, will never make man truly happy and useful. I entreat you, therefore, to watch and pray, and to live in constant communion with God our Saviour, whose grace and strength alone are sufficient, to support and preserve you amidst all the trials and temptations of life. Rise every morning, during this new year, with pious resolutions not to depart from your path of christian duties, and to live, and act, and think, in accordance with the will of your heavenly Father. Have this important truth ever deeply impressed upon your mind; that even in the most secret hours, when no human eye beholds you, the holy eye of God is upon you and that you are in his sacred presence. This will be the best preservation from all temptations and sinful alurements whether arising from within, or approaching from without. Harm and injure no man; treat all, with whom you meet, with kindness and affection. Wherever you can perform a charitable act, or bestow a good favor, do it with cheerfulness. Above all, esteem, love, and obey your teachers. That the God of all grace be with you, keep & preserve you, and grant you in every respect, a happy new year, is the sincere prayer of your affectionate mother.

Mother has sent you five dollars & this letter, for a New Year’s gift, and hopes you will apply it to some good use. Father would have sent you one but he has none at present. We all give our love to you & all the friends.

Mary M. Giesy

Lost Faces Ancestor Photos from the 1800s

Wishing you had an ancestor photograph? Check out the 1800s photographs and antique photo albums on Lost Faces. There are over 2,500 photos in this growing genealogy collection

Submitter: Phillip F. Schlee E- mail: schlee@ksu.edu

(Letter to Mr. Samuel Giesy, Marshall College, Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, from his mother, Mary M. Giesy, Lancaster, Ohio, December 28, 1843)

Notes: This letter is one of the 800+ in my collection. I've purchased most of the letters on eBay over the last three years. I don't have much information on thre family, just what I found on familysearch.com: Samuel Hensel Giesy (b. 1826) was son of John Ulrich Giesy and [Mary] Magdalene Hensel. In 1851, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, he married Anna Bella Smith (1829-1855). They apparently resided in Lancaster, Fairfield County, Ohio.

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