Searching for Susan (Chapter Seven - The Long Way Around, page 1 of 2)

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During this period of absence of letters between Edwin and Susan, another member of the family briefly entered the picture. We were confused at first because of how the letter was addressed; to "Brother Edwin." Later, we learned the writer was Sarah Elizabeth Jenkins, the sister of Edwin's deceased wife.

Lizzie, as Sarah Elizabeth is called, speaks of her younger brother, twenty-six year old Henry Jenkins who had travelled west during the gold rush.

Billerica, Mass July 8th, 1866

Brother Edwin,
I will write a few lines this afternoon, to tell you the news that came yesterday. We had a telegram saying that Henry sailed for home in the steamer June 30th and wished Father to meet him in New York. I knew you would be glad to hear there is a prospect of our once more seeing him. We feel very anxious for fear he will not stand the voyage, but hope for the best. He must be more comfortable, for in our last letter he wrote, that he would come east, but knew he could not stand the voyage. The steamer will get in the last of next week.

Father wished me to ask you if you would have business in New York soon, and if so you could make arrangements to go when he did, as he dreads so much going alone, for fear of what may happen when the steamer get in. He knew that some of you went once in a while, and did not know but you might be going soon. I wish it could be so, for he worries so much about Henry that I am afraid he will be down sick. Oh dear, have we got to go through another of those sad scenes that we have passed through three times, within as many years. I suppose we shall have strength given us equal to the day.

Lizzie refers to the death of Edwin's wife Marie Jenkins. They had married in 1858 and she bore him a daughter, Carrie Evelyn Fletcher. On April 27, 1863, the two-year old child succumbed to fever. Five months later, on September 11th, Marie too passed away, a victim of pulmonary consumption, most likely tuberculosis.

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