Thursday, November 24, 2011

Removal Certificate from
Quaker Records, Coeymans NY

My uncle Jacob and I visited Mrs. Henry Dubois several weeks after her husbands untimely death in Little Falls and it was on that very day that I met my dear Phebe.  Dressed in mourning as was the woman she so tenderly called her "Mama" and administering to the still reeling Mrs. Dubois as only a devoted daughter could, I found it difficult at best to concentrate on the reason for my and my uncle's calling and not upon heaven's angel that sat close to her mother that day.

In turns feeling the uncomfortability of being in the presence of a family grieving for the loss of a man who was so admired and genuinely loved and desperate to compose my own thoughts to the matter of our visit and lessen my more instinctual curiosity regarding the young Miss Dubois, I relied heavily on Uncle Jacob to steer the afternoon's conversation accordingly.

As I was to learn that day, My uncle and Mr. Dubois had been more than mere mutual business acquaintances.  They had a profound respect for each other.  While very little personal correspondence had in fact taken place, they nonetheless knew of each other's work very well and had occasion to offer entre and recommendation to client's who, when in need of service that either party could not provide, would happily suggest the establishment in New Baltimore or Little Falls, whichever the instance might be.

Tea was served and our visit passed as pleasantly as circumstances could possibly provide.  Indeed, for there came a point when gentle, careful considerations were established and both parties were in agreement that I would seek room and board within the community and assume management of the late and venerable Mr. Dubois' place of business.

While no transfer of title was completed that day or for several years afterward for that matter, our meeting in the parlor of the widow's home was significant and providential on so many levels, the least of which being business associated.

As I listened to Uncle Jacob and Mrs. Henry Dubois lament the passing of her good husband while formulating a plan to address the business' resumption of operations, I found myself stealing moments of observation with quiet consideration, the adroit pose and movements of her daughter, Phebe Ann.

While being entirely chaste, I am and have always considered myself to be a gentleman of advanced perception.  I say that not in any effort at self flattery but rather, in previous occurence.  I have often experienced a sense for something as it was happening, that led me to believe or feel as if there was impending significance attached to it.  I recall meeting Phebe with just this perception.

She was a handsome young woman, that there was no arguing.  Her dark hair and blue eyes reminded me of my sister Catherine. Dressed entirely in black, her veiled head bowed more often than not in quiet contemplation of her prayerful hands, she sat very near to her mother.  A buttress of support.

If she said a word during our first meeting, I really don't recollect.  I myself said very little, deferring to those of Uncle Jacob and Mrs. Dubois.  Our eyes did meet that day, though, that I do remember.  I carry that moment around with me as so many would come to carry images of their loved ones in tiny leather casings or silver lockets that I would one day create for them.

Phebe would tell me many years later that in my eyes she saw goodness and light.  In hers, I saw kindness and comfort.  She was grace and beauty and I love her today as I did on the day I married her.  I miss her.

The years we spent in Little Falls managing our family's jewelry establishment and looking after her mother and older sister Charlotte were as happy as any we were to have in our lifetime together.  As today, there were carriage rides and harvest festivals.  Visting dignataries providing oratorical debates to entertain.  Still, the quiet, country life as was our thriving upstate village would one day be supplanted by my seemingly unbounded curiosity and longing for more.

Notice as it appeared in
March 23, 1838 edition of
Little Falls NY Mohawk Courier

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