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Before closing these sketches it is our duty to mention particularly one member of our mission family who has recently departed this life, in the faith and hope of the Gospel.
In preparing this little volume there has been a studious effort to avoid any unnecessary mention of ourselves or family. We had no desire to obtrude personal affairs or an undue share of self upon the attention of the reader. A simple record of facts required more than was desirable in this regard. But as Mrs. Goode has finished her course with joy and has entered upon her blissful reword, it becomes a duty to pay that tribute of respect to which she is eminently entitled.
Sarah B. Goode was born on the 31st day of August, 1809, in Washington county, Virginia. While an infant her parents emigrated to Louisville, Kentucky, where she was reared and educated. In her sixteenth year she was converted and became a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In her twentieth year she became the wife of William H. Goode, who was then a lay member of the Church. The life of labor, toil, joy, and sorrow which lay before them was alike unknown and unanticipated by them; for Mr. Goode, at that period, had not felt himself called to the office and work of a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ. A few years elapsed and he became convinced that God had called him to preach the Gospel. The plans and prospects of life are broken up, and the aims and pursuits are wholly changed. The beautiful and comfortable home on the Ohio river was sold, and all the domestic comforts peculiar to rural life were surrendered.
Mrs. Goode “conferred not with flesh and blood,” but cheerfully submitted to her husband’s convictions of duty and obligation. From an intimate acquaintance with her, and a knowledge of her tastes and preferences, I know the sacrifice to have been great, and yet I never heard her speak of it. Nearly a fourth of a century of her life was spent in the itinerancy, and a large portion of it upon the frontiers.
Her health was not rugged, her family large, and her labors necessarily severe; yet she never uttered a word of complaint, or even expressed a desire that her lot should be different, or that Mr. Goode should seek for more desirable fields of labor in the Master’s vineyard. Mrs. Goode was strictly conscientious, devotedly pious, and endowed with rare good sense, and she suffered cheerfully and willingly what God required of herself and family.
At the time of Mr. Goode’s appointment to the missionary work among the Indians there were many considerations which rendered the removal of the family to a wilderness home unpleasant. There were five children of the proper age to require schools of a good character. There were many dear friends from whom it would be painful to separate. Society, intellectual, moral, and cultivated, seemed indispensable to the formation and proper development of the character of the sons and the daughters to qualify them for respectability and usefulness in life.
All these considerations had weight and force; and yet when a friend made inquiry, “Mrs. G., are you willing to leave your friends and take your large family and go to live with the Indians? ought not your children to be in school and favored with such facilities and privileges as they can not have in that country?” she replied, without a moment’s hesitation, “If Mr. Goode considers it his duty, I can go cheerfully to live with the Choctaw Indians, or any where else that Providence may direct.”
Conscientiousness, decision, and fortitude were prominent traits of her character. When the path of duty was plain, obstacles were powerless to turn her aside or discourage her in her work.
At the mission our labors were necessarily onerous, as our family seldom numbered less than fifty souls. The duties of superintendent, teachers, and assistants were properly distributed; the compensation of each was fixed, and his specific work assigned him. Although Mrs. Goode declined assuming regular duties, believing the cares of her family would require all her time and strength, yet she was a most important laborer in the mission. The stores, the larder, the dining-room, and the kitchen were under her careful supervision Thus the servants were required to be faithful and economical. Prodigality and wastes were anticipated and prevented, and thus hundreds of dollars were saved to the institution every year. Mrs. Goode felt deeply anxious for the success of our work, and labored earnestly and indefatigably for the advancement and promotion of every interest connected with the mission. But her labors were gratuitous; she accepted no compensation for her services; she looked to heaven alone for her reward.
After Mr. Goode return to Indiana his family were permitted for a few years to enjoy the comforts of civilized life, surrounded by many dear and valued friends. But again, at the call of the Church, he took his family to an extreme frontier field of labor. He was the pioneer Superintendent in planting the Churches in Kansas and Nebraska territories. He pitched his tent in the immediate neighborhood of Council Bluffs, on the east side of the Missouri river. There they intended to abide, not again changing their place of residence till their pilgrimage should end, and the Master should call them from labor to reward. But in the providence of God Mrs. Goode was not permitted to live to enjoy the quiet and peace of a happy old age. On the ninth day of February last she had a violent attack of sickness while her husband was absent on his district. Her sufferings were intense, but borne with remarkable fortitude and patience. She believed her sickness would prove fatal; yet she did not manifest any alarm or undue excitement. Her spirit was subdued and her will resigned to the will of her heavenly Father. In the midst of her paroxysms of suffering and bodily anguish she would repeat, with remarkable emphasis, portions of God’s precious word which were especially applicable to her condition. The Divine blessing rested upon her and grace was triumphant every hour.
On the fourteenth clay of the month the final struggle came, of which she was fully apprised, knowing that the time of her departure was at hand. Calling her children around her dying bed she gave to each a mother’s advice and blessing, leaving a most tender and affectionate message for her absent husband. “Now,” said she, “my work is done! O that I might sleep and wake up in the better land!”
Almost the last words that fell from her lips as they were quivering in the agonies of death were,
“Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee.”
Her prayer was heard; God came and took her to himself.
She slept in Jesus, and her cold remains now rest in the little rural cemetery, in the vicinity of Council Bluffs. When the mournful tidings had been borne across the oceans to us, and reached us in our mountain home, on the Pacific coast, that Mrs. Sarah B. Goode was dead, Mrs. B. and myself wept as children weep when a mother has been taken away. “But friends shall meet again, who have loved!” God be praised that there is a life beyond the grave! There is a blissful home where the ransomed shall be gathered, where loved ones shall be reunited and separations shall not be known.
Till the great day our mission family shall not meet. Where are they, even at. the present hour? While Mrs. Goode sleeps on the bank of the Missouri, two members of my own household are resting in a single coffin, in a grave in sight of the San Francisco Bay. Mr. Page, our first native assistant and interpreter, still lives to preach Christ crucified to the people of his nation. Four of our first students have died in hope of a better life, two of them having entered the ministry, and labored as assistants in the itinerancy. One of the class which we first received and taught is now a judge of the court, and also a local minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Of others we are not informed.
Mr. Goode’s field of labor and my own are now contiguous. He is in the gorges of the Rocky Mountains on their eastern slopes, preaching the word to the miners of Pike’s Peak. My own field of labor is in the ravines and canons of the same mountains on their western declivities, where I am endeavoring to dispense the message of mercy to a mining population. We may not meet on earth God grant us a blissful reunion in heaven!