Thursday, July 22, 2010

Frances Adams Chamberlain: Death & Funeral

Below are three transcribed newspaper articles: Fanny Chamberlain’s obituary, an article about her funeral, and the beautiful eulogy given by Rev. E.B. Mason at her service.

Fanny Chamberlain’s obituary, as printed in the
October 20, 1905 issue of The Brunswick Record

Mrs. Frances (Adams) Chamberlain, wife of Gen. Joshua L. Chamberlain, passed away on Wednesday night at her home in this town. She was about 80 years of age. They had been looking forward to the celebration of their golden wedding in December next. She was the daughter of Asher Adams, one of the old Boston merchants, and Amelia Wyllys of Hartford, Conn., whose home was the old Wyllys mansion of Charter Oaks fame. She was a lineal descendant of Mabel Harlakenden, known as “the Princess of New England,” being in fact of the blood royal. She was a member of the family, regarded as an adopted daughter, of her cousin, Rev. Dr. George E. Adams, pastor of the First Parish church in Brunswick. She was a rare and gifted woman, and had opportunities in life to be active in wide and varied spheres. During her husband’s governorship of Maine and presidency of Bowdoin College, her generous hospitalities and especially her personal interest of a large number of young men, students of the college, she endeared herself to many who cherish the memory with grateful affection. Mrs. Chamberlain lost her eye-sight several years ago, and has since suffered very greatly from a combination of diseases, which she had borne with admirable patience. She will be widely missed and deeply mourned. She leaves a son, Harold Wyllys Chamberlain of Brunswick, and a daughter, Mrs. Horace G. Allen of Boston.

Funeral services will be held on Saturday at 2:30 p.m., at her late home on Maine street.

Photo of the First Parish Church, taken during the brief period between 1848 and 1866 when the church had a spire. The spire was blown off in a windstorm and fell onto Maine Street--no one was injured. From the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# 2008.383.3.b.

Description of Fanny’s funeral, from the
October 23, 1905 Lewiston Daily Evening Journal

TRIBUTES TO MRS. CHAMBERLAIN, BRUNSWICK, ME., Oct. 24 (Special).—Saturday the funeral of Mrs. J.L. Chamberlain was held in Brunswick. Only family and intimate friends attended the prayers at the house at half after two in the afternoon.

From the home the remains were carried to the Congregational church where the funeral service was held. The officiating clergymen was Dr. Mason, who was a pastor of the college church for over forty years and he was assisted by the present pastor, Rev. Mr. Jump, who offered the opening and closing prayers.

“Sun of My Soul,” one of Mrs. Chamberlain’s favorite songs, was given at the beginning of the service, and at the close the organist played magnificently, “The Land of the Leal.”

Mrs. Chamberlain passed away on Wednesday night. Only the Sunday previous she went for a drive. On Monday it was noticed that she wad suffering from a cold and on Tuesday she was much worse. This hastened her death, the indirect cause of which, no doubt, was the injury to her hip, received last August as the result of a fall.

Besides her husband, Mrs. Chamberlain is survived by two children, Mrs. Horace Allen of Boston and Mr. Harold Wyllys Chamberlain of Brunswick and three littler grand-children, all the daughters of Mrs. Allen.

Mrs. Chamberlain, who was seventy-seven years of age [sic; she was actually 80], has been totally blind for the past five years and for several years previous to that, was partially blind. Her husband and son have been especially devoted to her during her years of affliction. Even after her blindness Mrs. Chamberlain played beautifully upon the piano and not only from memory for she also improvised.

In speaking of her a friends said: “Mrs. Chamberlain had a fund of funny stories and of quaint sayings. She was young and bright in spirit, even to her last. She was cultured and intellectual and an artist in painting as well as in music. But better than all her versatile talents was her dear, true strong, loving heart.”

One of her dearest friends spoke to the Journal reporter of Mrs. Chamberlain’s wonderful faculty of entertaining a large company of people easily and with no apparent effort, making everyone feel that he was a part of the happy circle.

It will be remembered that Mrs. Chamberlain, who was formerly Miss Fannie Adams, was adopted by her father’s brother, Dr. Adams of Brunswick, when but a child. The officiating clergyman at the funeral services told the story of her life in a series of word pictures, the first of which described the beautiful little girl with her great, observant brown eyes, as she came up the aisle of the old white church, on the first Sunday after the adoption by Dr. and Mrs. Adams.

He carried her through her girlhood to young womanhood when she had the care of the singing in the church and played the organ for eight years. Then he told how she became interested in a young man in the college and later gave her heart to him and the scene of her marriage which was solemnized by her adopted father, was pictures. Then he described her as a mother and never, said he, was there a more devoted mother than she. Then he pictures the time when her husband was made governor of the State and “this same little Fannie Adams” performed the duties she was called upon to perform with such marked ability and acceptability.

Then to the time Mr. Chamberlain was made president of Bowdoin College when she was still “the same little Fannie Adams,” and the students came to her with their joys and sorrows, wrong doings and love affairs. Whatever happened, she always took the part of the student, being almost a mother to them.

Then he told of her blindness when he came with faltering step up the aisle of the church, leaning upon the arm of her husband and followed by her son, and then, sweetest of all, of her last years.

Colored postcard showing the interior of the First Parish Church. The Chamberlain family sat in pew #64. From the Pejepscot Historical Society, acc# 1982.97.418.6.

Rev. E.B. Mason’s eulogy, printed in the
October 27, 1905 issue of The Brunswick Record

Eloquent Tribute Made by Rev. Dr. E.B. Mason in the Congregational Church

It is the prerogative of man, as an intelligent being, with memory and imagination, to banish the present and recall the past; to summon before him the faces and forms of things and persons that were long ago, and live over again the experiences of other times. We can blot out in a moment the town as it is, with trolley cars, new buildings and dwelling houses; the splendid structures on Bowdoin College campus, the Science and Art buildings, Hubbard hall and even Memorial hall, and see in place of them a quaint beautiful New England village with its simple life and scholarly ways.

It is on a Sunday morning. The “past rises before us like a dream.” We are in the old church which once stood on the sire of the present edifice. We see a square prim New England meeting house, with galleries around three sides, and windows screened by green blinds. Outside the streets are quiet and empty, save for the people on their way to morning service. The door opens and a father mother and little girl softly enter the sacred place. Little Fanny Adams has come from her home in Boston, to live with her cousin George, who loves children, and longs to have one in his house. The little girl grew up, listened to her adopted father, your honored pastor, Dr. Adams, preaching Sabbath after Sabbath, and became a part of Brunswick life.

Years have passed away, this impressive church, which always deeply affected her, has risen on the site of the old meeting house, and each Sabbath morning, there is seated at the organ, a young woman who loves music, and knows how to lead the congregation in its public and solemn worship. Soft strains breathe forth or swell into loud triumphant chords, while the people sit and reverently wait for the uttered words of prayer praise and religious instruction. Once more Fanny Adams is taking her part in the church life, and for years continues to render this important service to the congregation.

Among the members of the choir, and for a time leader of the choir, is a young man between whom and the organist grows a beautiful friendship, which ripens into warm deep love, and which we know now was to last for half a century.

A third picture rises before is like a vision. It is a wedding. The bride and groom walk slowly up the aisle, and stand before this altar while the solemn words are spoken, which make them husband and wife. The picture is easily filled out. All its details come back. We see the throng of friends, and hear the thrilling organ notes, and the full melodious voice of the minister, as he recited the impressive and touching marriage service. Fanny Adams again goes out of the church, and this time as the bride of the young man who helped her in the singing of the choir.

Forty or more years elapse, and we are in the Congregational church, on almost any Sunday evening, when the door slowly opens and three persons carefully enter; a father, a mother, and a son. They move cautiously down the aisle, at almost a creeping pace, and we soon see that the mother is totally blind. A devoted son and husband support her at every step, and seat themselves by her side. She sits motionless during the service, and at its close smiles brightly on friends who stop with a word of greeting, before being led back to the other side of the street, and the home made as comfortable as love can make it, but always in darkness. Those who fill in the events between four scenes described, can rehearse the story of a strong useful and beautiful life.

I have not alluded to other incidents outside this building, her experiences in the war, the days in Augusta as governor’s wife, with receptions and social obligations; nor the college life when her husband was president of Bowdoin College, and students gathered in their home, or came to her with their troubles and questions for sympathy and direction; for the home life which is too sacred for strangers to meddle with; nor her regretted inability to unite with the church, because of a scrupulous conscience which could not assent to propositions beyond comprehension.

Enough, however has been said, and we turn from the days of yore to the ‘Land o’ the leal.’ We forget the past, and summon the future. Memory gives place to vision. It is not a new life but the same life enriched and enlarged, which is projected on into scenes of indescribable brightness and grandeur.

Immortality is an experience like love, or marriage, or any other part of the life lived by reasonable beings. It is not a deduction, for arguments crumble to pieces and fall like a house of cars, but it is an experience, an achievement, an attainment. Some accomplish immortality in this world, and are already passed from death unto life, but others, perhaps most people, learn its meaning, and feel its power only in the world to come. They move on into brightness, while we watch the departing glow. It is an experience not of the body, which moulders away and disappears in the corruption of the grave; it is an experience not of the mind, for learning never comes to a knowledge of God, or eternal life, but it is an experience of the spirit, of the human spirit, blended with the Divine Spirit, and becoming a part of the imperishable. While everything is an experience of God, either a walk in the morning, a song sung from the heart, a piece played on the organ, a friend met in the darkness, yet the supreme experience is the experience of love and immortality with the Eternal Father. That little Fanny Adams, who appeared one Sunday morning in this church seventy or more years ago, who later played your organ, was married before your altar, and worshipped here on Sunday evenings with her husband and son, has gone into the bright and glorious life and light which is immortality and joy and peace. Old and tried friends have brought in for the last time her mortal body, and will lay it in the grave, but her spirit, with its music, and brilliant gifts, and memories of the past, and treasures gathered in this world, has gone to God who gave it, and will abide with Him forever.

The services were held on Saturday afternoon in the Congregational church, and were conducted by Rev. H.A. Jump, assisted by Dr. E.B. Mason.

The singing was by a quartet of Bowdoin students.

The bearers were Prof. Franklin C. Robinson, Capt. Lemuel H. Stover, James W. Crawford, Prof. Henry Johnson, Prof. William A. Houghton and Emery A. Crawford. Interment was at Pine Grove Cemetery.

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