Death of Mrs. Josephine Somers
Christian Recorder: June 19, 1890
In the death of Mrs. Josephine Somers, wife of J.W. Somers, Boston, Mass, who departed this life May 12th, a precious and valuable lady is removed from the ranks of the living.
I first made the acquaintance of Mrs. Somers in the summer of ’76, while the Centennial Exhibition was in progress in the city of Philadelphia. I had but recently gone there to take charge of the Publication Department of the A.M.E church and was boarding at the house of Mr. H.H. Gilbert, 627 Pine Street, Philadelphia. One morning at the breakfast table, Madame Gilbert introduced me to Mrs. Somers as a relative of hers. Mrs. Somers at that time was in the prime of life, beautiful in feature, symmetrical in figure, and graceful in bearing to what seemed completion. But making every allowance for female modesty, there appeared to be a diffidence about her which to me, at least, was repulsive, and I scarcely spoke to her for a time, except to bow my head as we passed and repassed. I had heard much of the frigidity of the Bostonians, and I regarded her as a fair specimen of them, and although I was just from the hot South, I would pretend to be full of consequentialities if I were not. This formality, however, in time disappeared and before her genial and social nature which acquaintance enabled me to discover in her. Thus a warm personal friendship grew into admiration and it culminated in she ultimately becoming the idol of my wife and children, and spending much time at our home when visiting Washington City. For years Mrs. Somers and Mrs. Turner were as intimate as two sisters, each calling the other Joe and Eliza; each visiting the other and regarding each other’s house as home, Mrs. Somers manifesting as much interest in our children as she could have manifested in her own had she been blessed with any.
The last time they met was at Springfield, Mass., last June at the New England conference. My wife being with me, and Mrs. Somers being apprised of the fact, she took the cars and was soon the companion of my wife; and the kissing and greeting with which they met I shall never forget. My wife refused to allow Mrs. Somers to stop elsewhere. I gave up our bedroom to the two saintly ladies and slept on the sofa in Mr. E. J Williams’ parlor. At almost any hour in the night when I would wake up I could hear these two ladies, soon to meet in heaven, conversing and frequently laughing. Strange to say that each declared that the other was in a sweeter mood than they had ever seen each other before. But in a few days a telegram from my daughter requested the presence of my wife at the bedside of her dying child. Mrs. Somers said: “Well, if Eliza is going I’ll go home too.” Both went to the depot together and each took the cars to their respective homes. They kissed and hugged each other for the last time upon earth. I shall never forget the words of my wife to Mrs. Somers; she said: “ Good bye, Joe; should we never meet again, we’re both acquainted with Christ, our Saviour, and he will give us a better meeting than this, for there we will part no more.” In a few weeks from that time, Mrs. Somers saw through the papers that Mrs. Turner was lying very ill. She at once forwarded me at Atlanta, Ga. Several prescription and other remedies, which she told me to try upon my wife, expressing a great anxiety for her recovery, and said, “Do all you can for Eliza for you will never get her like again.” But when the remedies of Mrs. Somers’ reached me, Mrs. Turner had been gone to heaven some two hours and the remedies were of no avail. The letters of sympathy and of tenderness and of consecration to Christ which Mrs. Somers wrote me after learning of my wife’s death I will never forget. I thank God that I have her letters on file nicely preserved in my “Memorial Book” with hundreds of others which were sent me in the hours of my distress: and the letters of Mrs. Somers upon the death of my wife will be precious jewels the remainder of my days; for all the letters which were written to me upon that sad event, none flamed with the light of Christianity more brightly than hers.
When I visited Boston last fall and also this spring, and stopping at her house, as I always did, her words of comfort and resignation to the will of God were so forcible that I felt like a little boy sitting at the feet of his master. When I last visited Boston in March and was about to leave, she said to me:
“Well, Bishop, you may never see me again. I am growing very feeble; this throat disease I think will carry me away soon. Should I die before your return, what shall I tell Eliza? Shall I tell her that you are going to meet her in heaven?”
I answered her “Yes, certainly; but oh, go along, you are not going to die yet.” She replied by saying:
“I am not long for this world, and I know it; but I am ready whenever Christ is.” Little did I think at the time that she was so near the better land?
Mrs. Somers was not only a consecrated Christian, but was every whit a lady, possessed of rare virtues, intelligent, companionable, excellent organist, good counselor, patient in troubles, charitable in heart and forgiving in the extreme. She was a devoted wife and exemplary in her life.
Mr. J.W.Somers, her husband, and a faithful husband he was, justly loved her, for she was entitled to it in every respect. God bless her memory; God bless the example of Josephine Somers is the prayer of one who loved and admired her many virtue and her grand characteristics. God grant that the death of this inestimable woman may tell upon the future of her devoted husband, who did everything in his power for her comfort and made her as happy as it was in his power.