Uncertainty of Living

I am impressed, when reading Horton’s letters, by his dedication to his family, and the importance he places on maintaining family connections. Some of that was likely the influence of the Quaker ways, but I wonder how much was a result of life’s uncertainties. Without antibiotics or other medeicines we take for granted, disease and death were common.

In July 1821, Horton’s second son, Joseph, left home to marry and return with his bride, Pharaby Patterson. This happy event turned to sorrow when the young wife contracted bilious fever and died less than three months after the marriage. Pharaby must have been loved by others in the family, as Joseph’s uncle chose this name for a daughter in early 1822.

Joseph’s sister, Rachel, also married shortly after her brother, and reportedly moved away to Kentucky. Rachel also died, in 1829, of bilious fever, leaving her husband with 3 children. In between these two deaths, Horton and Hannah also lost their daughter, Hannah, in 1825.

After these losses, it is understandable that Horton would hold his remaining family very dear.


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