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Death of Mrs. David Backus

Died Dec. 21, 1877, aged 92 years, after living 80 years in Groton


Last Thursday night, between the hours of 11 and 12 o'clock, passed peacefully from out midst Mrs. David Backus, better known as "Grandmother Backus," at the advanced age of 92 years, 2 months and 20 days.

During 80 years of this time the deceased has been a resident of Groton. When this section of country was almost a forest, where occasionally might have been seen the prowling wolf - when the only road laid out was "The Salt Road," (marked trees being the only other guides) - when the nearest mill was east of Cortland, and the nearest blacksmith shop was at Northville - when in all the world there was no railway - when the conception of the telegraph and the telephone had not even entered into the human brain - before the stage-coach had made its appearance in "these parts," there came to Groton by an ox-team, a "blooming lassie" of some twelve summers, names Mary Fish. Scarcely was she out of her "teens" when she was "woo'd and wed" by David Backus, a sprightly lad from the same State, and by six months her senior.

Their married life was as blissful and happy as it is given weak and imperfect mortals to enjoy. As the years rolled on, the old family Bible began to show the record of birth after birth, until ten children blessed their union. Happy household! But as

"There is no flock, however watched and tended
But one dead lamb is there,
And no fireside, howsoe'er defended,
But has one vacant chair,"

so bye and bye the blank space in the "Record of Deaths" began gradually to get filled up. Now there was added the name of an infant daughter, then, of two sons, who died in manhood's prime, then of another son, who was accidentally killed, and at last there was added the name of the "head of the house," the house-band, the partner of 66 long years, who died Dec. 21st, 1877. Since the death of her husband, Grandmother Backus continued to enjoy remarkably good health for one so well "stricken in years." Doubtless her calm, cheerful, peaceful heart and temperament had much to do in conferring upon her the blessing of health and "length of days" which she enjoyed in such unusual measure. Wherever she went she bore along with her an atmosphere of sunshine and happiness and no one could look upon her aged countenance, that always beamed with intelligence and serenity, without experiencing a calm and almost reverential feeling stealing over the spirit; verily "the hoary head is a crown of glory."

Year after year, as the Backus family gathering was held, she was the central figure and the chief object of interest amid this happy domestic group. On the 2d of last September, her 92d birthday, she was able to take her accustomed place among her children, grandchildren , and great-grandchildren at the annual family festival, which she seemed to enjoy with the same zest as in former years, for the domesticities of life were always to her a very form of religion, as they are, and ever will be to every pure heart.

Little did that happy group dream that there were close at hand changes so many and so sad. A few weeks elapse, and lo! her son Artemas is suddenly taken away, then on the self-same day her son George is called upon to follow! thus fulfilling the prediction -

Death never takes one alone, but two!
Whenever he enters in at a door
Under roof of gold or roof of thatch,
He always leaves it upon the latch
And comes again ere the year is o'er
Never one of a household only,

Previous to the death of her two sons Grandmother Backus had begun to show signs that her end was not far off, consequently she was unable to leave her bed to take even a last look of her dead before their burial. Strange to say, before the news of the death of her sons was communicated to her she was in a measure prepared to receive it, in consequence of a premonition she had had of the event. Still the death of her two boys proved such a severe blow to her that she never recovered from the shock, but continued to grow weaker, until, on the evening of the 20th inst., she peacefully passed away to her rest and her reward.

Two sons, Harvey and Brainard, and two daughters, Mrs. M. P. Gale and Mrs. L. Corning, survive to mourn her loss, for,

There is none in all this cold and hollow world,
No fount of deep, strong, deathless love,
Save that within a mother's heart.

A noble and useful life is thus ended; but death and the grave cannot interrupt the influence of such a life - an influence that will continue to make itself felt in all life's moving forms and in all its history and that forever for "the righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance."

The funeral services were conducted by Rev. W. Smith, of the Congregational Church, at the residence of her son-in-law, M. P. Gale, on Sunday last at half past one, P. M. The Revs. Bleismer, and Chas. Smith (Baptist) and the Rev. D. Keppel (Methodist) were likewise present and took part in the exercises.

Thank you Ella N. Strattis for donating this obituary.

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