Memoriam for Martha Cowden Dysart Mitchell, wife of James Bourne Mitchell

This memoriam for Martha Cowden Dysart Mitchell comes to me via Jim Mitchell (descendant of Orlando), who gives it as having been written by one of her sons:

Mrs. Martha C. Mitchell died at the home of Rev. Dr. and Mrs. B. P. Fullerton, her daughter, St. Louis Mo., on the 19th of Feb. last, and was buried in Kirksville Mo. on the 21st. She lacked only a few days of reaching her eighty seventh milestone – the longest earthly pilgrimage of any of her generation, save one. Her maiden name was Martha Cowden Dysart, daughter of Col. John and Matilda Dysart, and niece of Rev. James Dysart, than whom, probably, no other man ever made a deeper or more lasting impression on the people of North East Mo. Her grandparents were among the earliest communicants of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and emigrated to Mo. from Maury Co. Tenn. in 1818.

She was the eldest of ten children, but one of whom, Hon. B. R. Dysart, of Macon, Mo. is now living. On account of her mother’s delicate health, it devolved on her, at an early age, to take charge of the household. While this gave her a rich experience for the duties of coming years, it deprived her of the coveted privilege of obtaining an education, but she made the most of limited opportunities. She was married to the late Rev. J. B. Mitchell D. D., in Nov. 1846, and they reared a family of ten children, two of whom, Bettie S. and Robert G. Mitchell of Macon Mo., preceded her into the beyond. She professed religion and united with the church after marriage, and few ministers have been blessed with a more loyal, helpful and devoted wife than was she. These traits in her character shone with undimmed lustre during Dr. Mitchell’s last pastorate of eighteen years at Kirksville, and his previous long presidency of McGee College. Many ministers who were educated at that institution, with scores of other students – sons and daughters of the church – together with her husband, children, relatives, parishoners and a host of friends will rise up at that last day and call her blessed.

She inherited keen mental vigor and a capacity for good judgment from her paternal grandmother, for whom she was named, and these were much improved by constant effort to acquire knowledge. But it was not till her children had gone out from the family home that she gave evidence, by papers read in the Ladie’s Missionary Societies and her correspondence, of possessing such rare ability, both in thought and expression. Here was a busy life, but she employed the few spare moments in gaining and assimilating useful information, which born rich fruit in her autumn years. One of her most cherished desires was to educate her children, and to her, no labor was too hard nor sacrifice too great to accomplish this end. She was a worthy companion of a beloved minister who was for many years a leader in the educational interests of the church, and who, for more than half a century took an active part in it’s councils.

She was a life long reader of the Bible, and during her declining years it was her daily companion and constant source of comfort. Her faith was not of the ecstatic type, but was calm, firm and practical. Even during the last years of her life, she was an active worker in the benevolent Societies of the church, until increasing infirmities confined her to the home. Her mind was active, and she was interested in the affairs of life up to her fatal illness. At times she suffered intensely, but often spoke her gratitude for the care and comfort her children gave her, especially her two eldest daughters. She was devoted to her children, and this mother’s devotion included their companions and the grandchildren. The funeral service was conducted at Kirksville by Rev. W. H. Johnson, of Callao Mo. who with his parents and grandparents were numbered among her friends. He truly said that the occasion was one for rejoicing rather than of grief, for she was a ripe sheaf ready for the harvest, and had been for years patiently awaiting the summons to join her many loved ones who had gone before. The casket was borne to the grave by her four sons and two sons-in-law, and laid to rest amid a profusion of flowers, of which she was always fond, by the side of him who was her loving and devoted companion for fifty-five eventful years. “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yes, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.”

A SON.

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