Before I left home following my wedding, my mother put a small book in my hand titled “Light After Darkness”. It was the story of my great-great grandmother, Tryphena Moore and her strange, tragic and ultimately happy life.
In 1854 her husband and his extended family decided to leave their homes in Fort Valley, Georgia and go west to Texas where the US government had opened vast lands to be settled. They assembled a great caravan of wagons with household goods and $30,000.00 in gold hidden under a false floor in one wagon to purchase land . In Galveston, Texas they came across an epidemic of cholera. Her mother, father, six brothers, one sister, husband, three sons and one daughter all died tragically of cholera within ten days, leaving Tryphena a widow, mourning the loss of her entire family. As the sole survivor she returned to Georgia to live with her sister.
In due time she met and married Dr. William Mathews, a great gentleman who was respected and loved by all. Together he and Tryphena had a new family- three sons and one daughter.
Tryphena died in 1905 at the age of 82. When I visited her grave in Fort Valley, Georgia, I discovered the we had the same birthday-January 19th. I was born on the same day one hundred and twenty-one years later!
At her funeral this poem by Frances Ridley Havergal was read:
Light after darkness
Gain after loss….
Sweet after bitter
Hope after fears
Home after wandering….
Rest after weariness
Sweet rest at last.
In giving me this book I think my mother wanted me to know two things- first, life has times of great sorrow, and second, I come from a line of strong women who overcame life’s tragedies and went on to find “light after darkness”.