Letter # 47 - This letter is from Jan Witte, who is Jan Rubingh’s brother-in-law. He was married to Jaantje Rubingh’s sister Jana, who died only two months earlier. His 14 year old daughter Appelonina has just died as well. Jaantje is with him at this time and she also was ill. It is an incredibly tragic account.
Grand Haven, September, 1881
With this letter we let you folks know of a sad and (for me and my people) awful matter. After Jaantje had been sick for three weeks it appeared to us that she was near death. She had lung problems. Through God’s help she is better again.
I myself was not well. Now for the second time I have medicine from Dr. van den Berg. He said that my illness was in my throat and chest. I was fatigued and sent in a urine sample and they found that the sickness was mostly in the lungs, because I have coughs almost every day. Now it is the second day that I am taking this new powder and I feel a little better.
On Saturday the 17th in the evening Appelonina took sick. She had still worked the whole day at housekeeping and on Sunday morning she put on her clothes and around ten o’clock she went back to bed. Then she ate a little bit and in the evening took off her clothes and said that she was dead tired in her head. I thought that it was from the illness and from eating so little.
During the night I looked in on her because I couldn’t sleep all night, and she lay there sleeping. I heard her groaning and then I got up and went to her and called her name three times and received no reply. Then I put her up on the bed....... and then Jaantje went for water and vinegar and bathed her, and I think that in fifteen minutes she was in eternity. The boys came down from upstairs to me and we went for the doctor and he did not know either what it was, and he thought it might have been a stopping of the blood circulation. But he could not say why it was such a hasty death, nor what the reason was nor its origin.
She would have been fifteen years in November and it had been just two months and six days since her mother died. Thus in a very short time my wife and my oldest daughter both died, and also Jaantje was sick and I myself have not recovered. Oh, what crooked pathways! It seems to me sometimes to be such an enormous burden. We need grace and blessing that God’s will be done. I hope that the Lord may support me in these circumstances.
And now, dear friends, be greeted from your brother in Christ, and I hope that the Lord makes is so that it becomes .....
Your brother and family, Jan Witte