37. The Rest of the Story: Emma Austin, Kansas, November 1879

Entrance to Prairie Mound Cemetery. Photo: Gary Smith.
Entrance to Prairie Mound Cemetery. Photo: Gary Smith.
Me standing on the Austin plot where Emma Austin was most likely buried. Photo: Gary Smith.
Me standing on the Austin plot where Emma Austin was most likely buried. Photo: Gary Smith.
In the summer of 1879 Emma Austin traveled from Eldred, New York, to live with her brothers Ell and Lon Austin, who lived and worked in Solomon, Kansas. The hope was that the drier climate could cure her TB.

Edith Emogene Austin (1851–1879
On the morning of November 13, 1879 Edith Emogene (Emma) Austin, 28, daughter of Henry and Mary Ann Austin, died from tuberculosis, at the home of her brothers in Solomon, Kansas.

Emma had been in poor health for more than a year. The last few months of her life she “suffered very much and was confined to her bed.” Emma was “greatly esteemed by all who knew her” and “left a large circle of mourning friends.” Rev. Mr. Pierson conducted the funeral service at the Presbyterian Church. Emma Austin was buried in a plot that Ell Austin had bought in Prairie Mound Cemetery.

2012 Visit to Prairie Mound Cemetery
In March 2012, on the way home from Iowa, Gary and I arrived before dark at the Prairie Mound Cemetery, near the delightful, small town of Solomon. It was about 41 degrees and windy, rather cold for a wimpy Arizonan so I bundled up. Emma (Edith Emogene) Austin was buried in a plot, near the Parmenters, that was owned by her brother Ell (James Eldred Austin), but there was no stone. About 20 years earlier there was a stone with the name Austin and another stone thought to be Emma’s, but the wind seems to have pelted away the name.

The Last Poem Emma Wrote: “I Am Tired”
Shall I fold my hands and rest from earth?
I am tired of the journey’s length,
I have wandered far, I am sick and faint,
I have prayed so long for strength.

I prayed when prayer seemed all unheard;
I have toiled when toil was vain,
I have tried to laugh when the laugh was a cry
From the depths of the soul’s wild pain.

I have kept my faith when I could not see
And courage when storms were high,
I had thought to fight the battle through;
Now what can I do but die.

Bear, saith the master, till I come;
Thy work is slow, but wait,
No task I ever set is small,
No burden over great.

I know thou hast toiled when thou couldest not see,
But toiled so long to fail
Never till now when thou bidest hope,
And faith and courage quail.

Thinkest thou because I have given to thee
But pain for thy harvest yet;
If thou art faithful to the end,
That I could once forget?

Bear on, bear on, the harvest sure,
Thou shalt know up there,
That what we thought so strangely here,
Was wisdom, love, and care.

—Edith E. Austin, Solomon City, Kansas, November 11, 1879. Miss Edith Austin, whose death is recorded in another column, was our best contributor and a writer of great merit. “I Am Tired” is her last piece written for The Sentinel, the day previous to her death.

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