By Barbara Emery Moseley
Nearly a century after they were written, the Vernon Historians received a packet of letters from a member of the family that treasured them for several generations. Although the ink is a bit faded, the elegant cursive handwriting reveals a poignant love story.
Written before the Civil War, they disclose the death from cholera of 22-year-old Gratia (pronounced Gray-sha) Fairman in 1847. They are from her fiancé, William H. Burt, who worked in Worcester, living there in a men’s boarding house.
Gratia’s brother George had notified him that she was sick in bed with a fever. Burt responded in a letter to Gratia: “It will be my constant prayer that you may soon recover . . . if you should become dangerously ill or materially worse, let me know it and I will soon be with you. I am enjoying my usual good health.”
Gratia’s condition deteriorated rapidly, however. She was in pain, but “she bore her suffering patiently, and calmly resigned herself into the hand of a kind Father who has promised never to forsake his children.”
Those words were from Professor John S. Lee, her mentor and teacher at Mt. Caesar Academy in Swanzey, N. H. (Born on West Road in Vernon, his life of distinction will be told another time.)
On his return to Worcester, after the funeral, Burt wrote to her family, “to find some relief from my anguish . . . there is no sympathy here for those who mourn.” He continues: “Not a day has since passed but I have found my relief in tears, my pillow is often moistened with them at night. Many times have I wished I might never see the sun rise again — I have lived long enough — my cup of bitterness is full. What more of affliction life has in store for me I know not . . . All is gone . . . Wherever I was, in whatever circumstances I was placed, I was sure there was one heart beat warm for me. Death, welcome Deliverer, come to me next.” (more…)