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Emma Crosby Letters

[Letter, Emma Crosby to Eliza Douse, June 20, 1877] Crosby, Emma, 1849-1926 1877-06-20

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 Fort Simpson, B.C.  June 20th 1877    My dear Mother,   We have had another mail - it brought no letter from you but a parcel came containing three   pinafores and a pretty pair of stockings for Gracie.  How kind and thoughtful you are - and these things   that you send so often are sure to be just the things that are useful to me.  I like to see the children   neat, so does their father.  They are growing finely, both of them, and are a great comfort to us.   The str. came in night before last and left early yesterday morning for the north.  Mr. Crosby   has gone to Wrangle again to meet a young man who has been sent from Portland, Oregon to explore with a   view to beginning a mission there.  He is highly spoken of by the Presbyterian minister of Portland - to   whose church he belongs, and is introduced by Gen. Howard.  He urged that Thomas go there to meet him   and it seemed a necessity that they should confer together as all that has hitherto been done of mission   work there has been under Mr. Crosby's superintendence.  This young man is to return soon to Portland to   report or Mr. Crosby would not have gone now - he was loath to be away.  Flags are at half mast in the   village and if you walked through it you would hear most piteous wailing.  Day before yesterday word   came to the village of the loss of six men - probably all drowned.  Near three weeks ago a canoe left   the village for Queen Charlotte's island.  It carried a Mr. Williams of the H.B.C. of Victoria who was   up the coast inspecting the Co.'s posts and six Indians, and now one exhausted man is brought back by   some Indians living to the north of us to tell a sad, sad tale.  They reached Queen Charlotte's Is.   safely, remained at the Post there some days, then started to return.  The course is a dangerous one,   except in calm weather.  They were about out of sight of land when a strong wind came up.  They changed   their course to escape its violence and sailed before it for some time, when a wave struck them and   split their canoe from end to end.  The bottom came quite out but all managed to get hold of the top of   the canoe which was of course floating and they saved a sail & rope, a pole & knife.  For some hours   they drifted on in this perilous position, singing and praying and encouraging each other as best they   could.  The white man had just offered prayer when he was swept away and seen no more.  This was about   noon while it was some time during the previous night that the canoe had broken.  The six Indians were   still left - but before long one said he felt himself growing weaker and asked the others to sing and   pray which they did and soon he lost his hold and was gone.  Then another fell off - now four were left   and they managed from the part of the canoe they had possession of to construct a kind of raft to which   they somehow lashed themselves, and still on they went.  This was Saturday night or Sunday morning and   on Sunday there on that little raft drifting on before wind and waves, these four poor men held a   service while one of their number who often has led the service here preached to them.  It was this   Sunday night I think that one of these men, crazed I suppose with hunger & thirst and excitement madly   cut the rope that held the raft together.  On the foremost piece was the one man whom we know to have   survived.  The other three fell behind him and what became of them we do not know.  The one man - it was   the one who had conducted the service - now sped on his solitary course.  On [and] on he went - helplessly   drifting - till about Monday night I think he was driven ashore.  Exhausted & starving he could scarce   move, however he found a little venison skin and bones.  The bones he broke with stones and [ate] the   marrow from them - and succeeding in getting some water he felt somewhat revived and when the tide went   out dug a few clams from the beach.  As soon as he was able he set out in search for some camp or   village.  After about three days he found a deserted camp or dwelling where a very small canoe had been   left, but no food could he find.  All he had was what roots & berries he could in his exhausted state   gather in the woods, or clams from the beach.  The canoe he took and started to find help.  The next   day, I think, he reached a village some distance north of us - this was Saturday and Monday some of   these people brought him home.  Such a shock we have scarce felt since we came to the village.  These   are about all the particulars we have been able to learn yet. Poor man is in such a weak state we do   not like to ask him many questions now.   The gentleman who was with them leaves a wife and family in Victoria.  But I am writing a long   letter.  I must close soon.  We have four girls in the house - two came down from Stickeen, that is   Wrangle, by the last str. for the purpose of living with us and we could not turn them away and we had   two before.   The new people at the Fort prove more agreeable than we expected.  The gentleman is a son of an   English church clergyman in Ontario.  His wife is part Indian, and speaks nothing but French.  She can   neither read nor write but is coming now every day to me to learn, and I think is capable of much   improvement.  Mr. Morrison and his family also remain in Fort Simpson.  We have lately been receiving   two copies of the Weekly Globe - perhaps through Papa's subscribing for us as he said he had done and   the old one not being discontinued.  Perhaps it would be well for Papa to speak of it. I suppose the   conferences are not through their work yet.   We expect Mr. Crosby back tomorrow.  With much love to yourself and my father, I am, dear   Mother,   Your most affectionate    Emma


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