Monday, August 25, 2014

Valerie Catherine Pratt (1839-1846)

Valerie Pratt funeral notice 1846, belletisdale.blogspot.com
Photocopy. Original location unknown.
1846 essay Valeria, belletisdale.blogspot.com

     Valerie Catherine Pratt was born 23 July 1839. She was the younger sister of Belle Tisdale's mother, Eliza Helen Pratt. Valerie died June 14, 1846. Her death evidently affected Eliza deeply. She saved Valerie's school books and some of her clothes as well as these three essays written by Valerie's schoolmates at the Baton Rouge Seminary.
 (The handwritten e over the A in Valeria in the photocopy of the funeral announcement was probably written by her mother Bernice Connely Pratt.)

Composition 1:
Original. 7 1/2” x 12 1/4” paper, manuscript ink writing. In possession of V. B. Zimmerman.
Transcribed exactly as written.

Valeria.

Valeria was about seven years old, of smiling face and fair complexion. Her dark flaxen hair ever hung gracefully about her neck, and sometimes half covered her high forehead, and gave additional beauty to her sparkling eyes. She was one of my school mates. When she first came among us, she did not know her letters, but in a few weeks under her careful instructress she learned to read. During the time that she was with us we had several parties given in the school, and little Lilly was always among the most smiling, bright and happy of being of an amiable disposition, and we all loved her. We had a May party; Valeria learned a little speech and several songs for the occasion. Those were happy moments when the dear little creature sung and prattled by my side. May day Valeria was dressed beautifully and wore a lovely wreath of flowers about her head, and looked herself like a rose bud the fairest to be seen. One month did not elapse before a great change took place. Valeria was sick. I went to see her twice during her sickness and when I first saw her I thought she would never recover. In the evening after I left her she grew worse and worse, and on sabbath morning, that holy day, she bade adieu to earth. I went to her funeral and never felt as bad at any place before. Although she now rests in the tomb I can scarce believe she is dead; her living beautiful form is ever before me. I hope and believe she has gone to heaven. She left a dear Father, Mother, two brothers, and four sisters to mourn her loss.
“Ah! now I feel as well I may,
Sweet Lyra! Thou art dead.”
Eudora A McGimsey

[Eudora Adeline McGimsey was listed on the 1850 census in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with her parents, Dr. J. W. P.  and Martha McGimsey. Eudora was born in 1834 and would have been 12 years old when she wrote this essay.]

Composition 2:
Photocopy. Original apparent dimensions 8” x 6 1/2”, manuscript ink writing. Location of original unknown. Transcribed exactly as written.

Valeria Pratt

Valeria was a beautiful little girl about seven years old. When she entered the Baton Rouge Seminary she commenced her letters and advanced so rapidly that in a few weeks she was able to read very fluently. She had a mild & sweet disposition which soon secured the esteem and affection of her schoolmates. On one beautiful morning the scholars assembled and the roll was called as usual but Little Valeria (as is seldom the case) was absent; the question was asked why she did not come; her sister said Valeria is not well. Days passed on and each morning was the question repeated, “Is Valeria no better & the reply was ever in the negative; at length poor Eliza with troubled countenance told us that dear Lilly was very sick. Daily was this news repeated until we began to feel that we should loose forever her whom we so much loved. Our worst fears have proved true. Valeria is numbered with the lamented and silent dead. The colds of the earth now cover the once animated and cheerful being of our affection. But she is with her God; Which of us will next be chosen; How necessary is it for us to be prepared for this great event.
Martha E. McGimsey

[Martha McGimsey was Eudora's older sister, born in 1832. She is also listed with her parents,  Dr. J. W. P.  and Martha McGimsey, on the 1850 census in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.]

Composition 3:
Photocopy. Original apparent dimensions: 7 1/2” x 9 1/2”, manuscript ink writing. Location of original unknown. Transcribed exactly as written.

Valeria

Valeria was our dear schoolmate. She was a mild amiable and lovely child, and commenced coming to this Seminary about nine months since. She was in her 7th year but did not know all of her letters, though in a few weeks she began to read very well. Dear little Valeria was beloved by all who knew her; she was a favorite at home, in school and in class. But she will be with us no more. We shall never see her again, in this world, behold her dear smiling face; but let us strive to meet her in heaven. Who would have thought that she who but five weeks ago was among us with sparkling eyes, and rosy cheeks, the most healthy and happy looking in her class, would in this short time be numbered among the dead. But alas, life is uncertain, and stern death nips the fairest first. We should always be ready for death for we know not the day nor the hour when the son of man cometh.
Louisa H. [illegible]


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